Friday, December 20, 2013

Peppermint Bark

Am I the only one who thinks working the days between Christmas and New Year is a waste?  Most importantly the day after my house that’s a useless, hungover, lay around with friends, wing-eating sort of day. Looks like I’m going to have to take a vacation day that I don’t have left. The price you pay for precious family bonding.  And the way my family bonds is by playing the traditional game of “who’s the drunkest at Christmas”. It all starts out about as tame as your classic family holiday, until our close friends and “uncles”, aka my dad’s high school friends, { who can still drink us under the table} come over for what is intended to be a nice dessert. And then the Jager gets broken out, and inappropriate games of Cards Against Humanity ensue, and all bets are off for anyone planning to survive without a hangover.
So I guess I’ll stop making you all jealous with my holiday plans, and get back to the reason I think we’re all here: baking. Unless of course you like my rants, in which case you shouldn't worry cause there’s plenty more where that came from. So similar to the Pumpkin craze in October, December will continue to revolve around peppermint, whether you like it or not!  And when I saw this pre-crushed candy cane I knew I needed a bag..or 2 or 3. It just makes life that much easier! On top of chocolate covered pretzels, Oreos, throw them in cookies, you can't go wrong!
But mainly my intentions were peppermint bark, because it's something I feel strongly about. It’s so delicious and refreshing, but tends to be so expensive.  There’s really only one solution to this problem- make your own! It’s such a simple and fun treat to make, especially as gifts! The trick to this is using good quality chocolate {such as Ghirardelli or Godiva}, and you’ll be surprised how good your homemade bark comes out!  My job is to show you how to mass produce peppermint bark from the convenience of your home..and for less!

Peppermint Bark
6oz Dark chocolate
6oz white chocolate
Crushed Candy Cane {or a pre-crushed bag shown above}
Line a square baking pan with parchment paper or tin foil.  Melt the dark chocolate {in a double boiler or cheat in the microwave like I do}. Spread the chocolate evenly in the bottom of the pan then place in the fridge.
*I didn't have a square hence the 3/4 filled rectangle pan. use whatever works!
In the meantime, melt the white chocolate.  Spread the white chocolate evenly over the dark chocolate. While the chocolate is still melted, sprinkle the crushed candy cane over the top.  Place back in the fridge until fully hard.
Break or cut into pieces and EAT!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Peppermint Chip Double Dark Chocolate Cookies

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And somehow it seems to be over before it feels like it started.  Usually my house is a nonstop bakeshop for all of December, but seeing as I’m moving in the midst of the madness, it has been pretty tough! But I commit to fully dedicating every day this next week to making something festive and hopefully get you some good recipes!

So I picked up these Andes peppermint chips, along with about 10 other cool things I never saw before, and now I needed to find something to do with them! I’m one of those “I need these..but I’m not sure for what” kind of shoppers if you didn't realize that already.
I've never had a chocolate cookie recipe that I felt was chocolaty enough {talk about an addict}. So I've been on the hunt for the perfect recipe, and after playing around a bunch, I finally came up with this one for you...and it’s PERFECT!  Until I come up with something better of course, in which case I’ll call that one perfect and the cycle continues.

But this cookie is truly perfect for this time of year. It’s like a winter party in your mouth.  I mean dark chocolate and peppermint chips, could there be a more festive combo?! Don’t bother answering that question, I've answered for you..there’s not!
So for all your work holiday parties and ugly sweater festivities MAKE THESE. They’re so quick and easy they’re sure to be a hit! Would I steer you wrong?! :)

Peppermint Chip Double Dark Chocolate Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen cookies

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder {regular or Special Dark, whichever you prefer}
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup {1 stick) of butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup peppermint chips {I used Andes}

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder and baking soda.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream together butter and sugars until smooth.  Add in eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.
Add in flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips and peppermint chips.
Use a tablespoon to place the cookie on the tray. Bake for 8-10 minutes until firm, then remove.  Place on a cooling rack or enjoy warm!

Happy Holidays! :)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Holiday Scramble Egg Muffins

The holidays are always a crazy time, especially when you're hosting. Thankfully we get to go away to my uncles for Thanksgiving, so my only task is to get the baking done- easy peasy. But when it comes to Christmas it's usually pure chaos in my household.  Mainly because by the time my sister jumps on the bed to wake us up at 8 am and we all get our butts downstairs to open presents, then play with the new things we got for the next two hours..yeah there's still nothing done.  And then of course I want to cook breakfast for the family and Linda's there screaming "you guys are just sitting around, no ones helping clean the house, cut the vegetables, someone put the turkey in, THIS HOUSE IS NEVER GOING TO BE READY!"  And it's at about 245pm when we're fighting over the shower before the family comes at 3pm. OH is that just my house?!
We'll anyway, I'm sure some of your houses are that hectic on Thanksgiving, but it's always nice to make a breakfast treat for the family without creating a total mess.  And I have the answer!

These quick, easy and delicious egg muffins are sure to be a hit without destroying the kitchen!

Egg Muffins
12 eggs, scrambled
handful of spinach
1/2 cup chopped peppers
1/4 cup cheddar cheese (or more to taste)
additional mix-ins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray the inside of a cupcake tin with Pam.  Scramble 12 eggs in a large bowl.  Add spinach, peppers, cheese, or other fillings as desired and mix.
Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop the mixture into the cupcake tins. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until the knife comes out clean.  Remove from the tin and serve!

Makes 12 muffins.

additional mix-in suggestions: Tomatoes, Onions, Sausage, Bacon..anything your heart desires! 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Cookies and Cream Krispie Treats

STOP! Whatever you’re doing isn't nearly as important as making these, and that’s a fact.  These are so beyond delicious, sometimes I think I really am a born genius.  And by born genius I mean good at taking two really really good flavors and putting them together.  Why don’t people always make these?! 
Side note: these were for Halloween, hence the orange filling!
So I think I've said time and time again that rice krispies are my absolute favorite. As in eat-a-whole-tray addicted. And that the pot of melted marshmallow has to be what heaven looks like (below).  Well to add to that, these have to be what heaven taste like.
Seriously the Oreo cookies with a touch of the cream making it melt in your mouth is by far the best thing that ever happened to those rice crispies.  And yes its proven fact.. I've actually broken the rules of Paleo to do some quality testing for you, and I’d do it a thousand times over. They were worth every bite (or 10).
In my world Christmas comes directly after Halloween, and I have no shame in saying so. If I had a choice, my Christmas tree would be up already, but my mom is holding it hostage until the day after Thanksgiving. Rude if you ask me. Maybe it's because last year she let me have control of my own tree and I left it up until March. Yeah you can all start to hate me now. But when the snow was still falling and we were stuck inside, I bet you wished you still had your tree up to stare at and buttered rum candles burning while you drank your red wine. Yup be jealous! 
So anyway I've started to stock up on many bags of festive M&Ms and a few containers of these Winter Oreos before they fly off the shelves come December and then I wont be able to find them.  So maybe you should go get a few packs so you can make these delicious treats for the holidays! You're family will love you I promise.

But in the mean time, go make a test batch of these right now- I’m not messing around!  

Cookies and Cream Krispie Treats
6 cups Rice Krispies Cereal*
1 bag Jet Puff Marshmallows
3 Tbs butter
1 Pkg Oreos

Spray brownie tray with Pam. In a medium pot, melt the butter.  Add in marshmallows and continue to stir constantly until fully melted.  Remove from heat.

Add cereal a little bit at a time and continue to stir until desired consistency is achieved* {I don't usually measure my cereal, just pour until it looks perfectly gooey}. Crush about a half pkg of Oreos (or more if you'd like) in your hands directly over the pot, but be sure not to smash them too much so you have some good chunks in there! Gently fold in the Oreos until completely incorporated. Spread mixture into the prepared baking sheet and let settle about 15 minutes.

Cut into desired squares and DEVOUR!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Last Minute Halloween Sweet Treats!

Halloween is a torn holiday for me, mainly because I LOVE candy, but I try to stay away from it (as much as I can resist). Secondly, because I am a really poor planner when it comes to costumes.  I’m the DIY type, and while I usually end up with a pretty decent costume in my opinion, it’s still a stressful process.  Two years ago my adorable peacock costume killed it. Cute little green corset that I covered with beautiful feathers, a black tutu skirt, black tights, and a cute feather hair clip. Show stopper for sure. Last year I didn't get as creative but my cat woman all leather costume with a store bought mask did the trick.  It seems as though I am on a downward spiral, because this year not even an idea has crossed my mind and it is already October 29th.  I blame it on the old age. 24 has hit me hard let me tell you- my body aches in places I never thought could, I go to sleep before 10pm and even weekend nights are a struggle to stay up. Heck, with my allergy to hair dye, I’ll be grey haired with a cane before you know it! Okay I’m being dramatic.

So anyway, somehow I just don’t manage to have the time to that I used to for creating recipes, playing with food and dousing things in chocolate, which is easilyyy my favorite past time. And even when I do get to play, I barely remember to take blog worthy photos or post about it. On that note, I’m assuming you’re all pretty busy as well and won’t have time to come up with crazy spooky Halloween treats for your parties this weekend.  Well don’t worry I’ve manage to whip up a few easy festive treats you can make in no time!

Ready go!

First up: Candy Bar Chocolate Covered Pretzels
Halloween Candy Bars (Kitkats, Twix, Reeses, M&M, etc)
Chocolate Candy Melts
Pretzel Rods
Sprinkles, optional
Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Chop up all your candy bars into tiny pieces. 
Melt your candy melts in a microwave safe bowl. Dip a pretzel rod and cover almost completely with chocolate, leaving just about an inch at the bottom to hold it. Place down on the parchment paper and cover completely in the candy bar or sprinkles of your choice. 
Place and the refrigerator, allow the chocolate to harden, then eat! or wrap in clear bags and pass out to your work friends for Halloween like i am :) 

Chocolate covered Oreos 
Oreos (with orange cream if you can find them)
Chocolate, White and Orange Candy Melts
Piping Bags
Candy Bars, optional
Sprinkles, optional

Line a baking tray with parchment paper. If using candy bars, chop into tiny pieces.

Melt your candy melts in a microwave safe bowl. Place some of each color into the piping bags and cut a tiny bit off the tip. Dip the Oreo completely in chocolate, using a fork to remove it form the bowl and tap off excess chocolate.  Place down on parchment paper, and then drizzling using the opposite colors than you dipped in (i.e. orange and white on a chocolate Oreo).

If using sprinkles or candy bar pieces, you would do them at this time as well.
Place and the refrigerator, allow the chocolate to harden, and viola!

Orange Spider Champagne I made this last year for my party- so easy and definitely a hit!
Orange Food Color (or red and yellow)
Spider Rings
plastic champagne glasses
Place a plastic spider ring in the bottom of each champagne glass.  Pour in the champagne, then add food coloring until reached desired color. Drink up!
And here's a few other treats I made for last years party. Get creative and scary, it's such a fun time of year!

Friday, October 4, 2013

I'm Back! And I Have Paleo Pumpkin Bread!

Hey all! I'm sooo sorry I've been MIA for a quite a while now, but with vacation, switching jobs, and adjusting to the new schedule I just haven't been able to do much recipe development!  But I have actually found time to work on some projects in the past few weeks which I'm excited to share with you all!

A dear friend got married just two weeks ago, and I was more than flattered when she asked if I would make a surprise grooms cake and cake pops for the rehearsal dinner! I was a little nervous to make the USA soccer jersey cake, and took my first stab at the ever so troublesome soccer ball cake pops that I constantly read complaints about..but all in all I think they came out pretty well! 

This past weekends projects were for two adorable little boys birthday parties, 1st and 4th!  For the one year old was a Mickey Mouse themed party, which included chocolate covered oreos. I was so excited to finally make these..they came out adorable and were so easy to boot {I'll be sure to post a tutorial in a future post}!  The 4 year old was a sports themed party, which I made basketball and baseball cake pops, baseball chocolate  covered Oreo's, funfetti rice krispie treats {not pictured} and mini m&m and sprinkle chocolate covered pretzels {also not pictured}! 
Okay so now to bribe you back with a new recipe. It's fall and I think you know what that means in the baking world: Pumpkin! I am absolutely in love with pumpkin bread, specifically my fathers recipe, but with being gluten free and now Paleo I can no longer eat a whole loaf in a day {but you can bet I'll be sneaking a piece this fall}.  I have created a delicious Paleo Pumpkin Bread recipe which I hope you will love as much as I do.  And feel free to make different variations with nuts, cranberries, chocolate chips {because chocolate makes everything better}..anything your little heart desires!
Paleo Pumpkin Bread
1 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp pumpkin spice
1/2 tsp baking soda

Strussel Topping *Optional ( adapted from Running to the kitchen)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 Tbs unsweetened coconut
1 Tbs coconut oil, melted
1 Tbs honey
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
Combine all dry ingredients together in a bowl. Mix together wet ingredients separately, then combine with dry ingredients and mix well.  

In a separate small bowl, add together strussel topping and mix together.
Pour the batter into the loaf pan and spread evenly.  Sprinkle strussel topping until completely covered.
Bake for 50-60 minutes or until knife inserted in the center comes out clean. 
Allow to cool in cooling rack for 10-15 minutes before removing from pan using the parchment paper.
Happy Pumpkin Season! :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Animal balls and Smore's Krispie Treats

I think we're all friends enough here for me to have a little rant session, right? Lets talk about the gym for a minute, considering I spend a decent amount of my awake time there. Work-Gym-Eat-Sleep- Repeat-- throw in a little kickball game, shopping, occasional happy hour, beach on the weekends and you live my life.

So what is it with dudes at the gym!? Before I was actively training and lifting {back in my boring cardio days}, I might've believed that maybe it did take 2 1/2 hours for boys to get their lifting done and that they worked really hard to get their muscles.  NEW FLASH: it doesn't .  Pardon my french, but if guys would just stop d*cking around and pay attention to their work out instead of standing around for 2 minutes between each set and talking to their buddies, things would get done a lot quicker.  I literally saw a guy doing cable crunches for 20 MINUTES I kid you not. In the amount of time I completed half my workout, I came back to find this guy was still praying for some abs.  Honey, try a salad.
Okay now that my venting is over, and I just told some guy to eat a salad, let me share some sweet treats I made this weekend! I went to a "Neon Jungle" party down the right?! So I had to get my creative side on and think of something that wouldn't take too long, hopefully wouldn't melt too quick, and that went with the theme.  Again looking for a way out of turning on the oven, I went with the always favorite Oreo Truffles {recipe posted earlier on the blog}, with animal print!
They came out pretty cute!

Summer nights remind me of camping and firepits, anyone else? But let's be honest, it's been way too hot these past few weeks for any of that. So I've decided to help appease your Smore's craving by transforming them into the delicious form of Krispie Treats ..they actually don't contain any rice kripsies, but I figure anything in that delicious marshmellowy genre deserves the name.

Smore's Krispie Treats
Golden Grahams, 6 cups
1 Bag marshmellows
3 Tbs. butter
1 cup mini marshmellows
1/2-1 cup chocolate chips
In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add 1 bag of marshmellows and stir constantly until completely melted {making sure not to burn them}.
Removed from heat. Slowly add in Golden Grahams until desired marshmellow-cereal ratio is achieved  *I never measure mine, I just pour until they look right so it may be a little more or less than 6 cups.
Let stand for a minute or 2.  Toss in the chocolate chips and mini marshmellows and stir gently to avoid melting.  Spread into a greased baking pan and allow to cool complete.  Cut into squares and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

White-Chocolate-Vanilla-Bean Cookies-and-Cream Dark-Chocolate-M&M Bark

The more people I meet, the more insane I think they think I am.  I guess I used to be a bit more reserved and shy back in the day, but I haven't seen that girl in a while.  A doctor I work with was talking about me the other day and literally said "she is so strange".  I know I'm weird. But what's the point in being like anyone else?
In a conversation the other day someone asked me what my flaws were.  Easy answer- I don't like bacon and I think one of my legs in longer than the other. Yeah this is my latest big dilemma in life. I'm training for my first triathlon and with all the running and biking I've been doing I've convinced myself that my left leg is longer than the right. Help me, I'm crazy.

So another fun fact is that I do promo modeling for alcohol brands as a fun side gig.  It's not actually a job to me considering I get paid to hand out awesome brand products and talk to people, which I'm really really good at. I would probably talk to a wall if you I was left alone in a room long enough, mainly because I hate awkward silence.  Plus it's pretty cool to meet new people- and every so often I'm lucky enough to meet someone really interesting and equally entertaining.  And I definitely don't mind that unexpected extra check because then I can use it on my usual unnecessary crap that I "desperately need". Like my tanks with corny sayings. Or my beautiful new Polar HR monitor watch that came last week. Or even more worth it,  when I order $50 worth of random sprinkles.  Yeah if you don't know what $50 worth of sprinkles looks like, it's something like this:
Okay sorry for going on a random tangent, it's been a while since I blogged last so I figured you deserved a life catch up.  So I haven't wanted to turn on the oven with this heat, holy moly.  For the Fourth of July I decided to keep it simple again with another yummy Bark!

So while the rest of the chocolate making world was being lazy, Godiva was doing something very right! This White Chocolate Vanilla Bean bar, are you kidding me?!
I'm obsessed with vanilla.  The more the better, and I tend to have a heavy hand to back this up in my baking.  This bar seriously ROCKS (yes I had to cheat and try a nibble just to make sure my suspicions were right and they definitely were)!
Cookies and cream is also very perfect. I'm not a huge Oreo cookie fan on it's own, but anything with Oreos inside is definitely better.  Ice cream. Truffles. My Oreo-white chocolate cookies. Seriously they should be inside everything. That's why I decided to make this White-Chocolate-Vanilla-Bean Cookies-and-Cream,Dark-Chocolate-M&M Bark! Fewf say that 5 times fast!

White-Chocolate-Vanilla-Bean Cookies-and-Cream,Dark-Chocolate-M&M Bark

Godiva White Chocolate Vanilla Bean Chocolate Bar, broken into pieces
White Chocolate Chips, about 1 cup*
Crushed Oreos
Dark Chocolate M&Ms, Red and Blue only
Red White and Blue Star Sprinkles

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.  Mix the Godiva Bar and white chocolate chips together in a microwave safe bowl.  Melt the chocolate in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until fully melted. *you can use more or less chocolate depending on how much you want to make, I only made a small batch.
Spread the melted chocolate into a thin later, about 1/4 inch thick.  Sprinkle toppings on until white chocolate layer is completely covered or desired chocolate-topping ratio is achieved.
Place is the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or until hardened.  Break bark into chunks and serve!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Turkey & Spinach Stuffed Peppers with Cauliflower Rice: Paleo!

Let me tell you, it has been hot.  And living on the 3rd floor doesn't help with the whole heat rises deal. So I've been trying to minimize turning on the oven other than when necessary, and I've actually been happy to have no orders or need to bake lately.  Woah, never thought I'd say those words.
I do, however, make exceptions for turning the oven on for a quick meal prep, mainly becuase I need to eat or else I think I'll die {yeah I'm dramatic}. But I'm always hungry. Being paleo and a workout fanatic has changed me from barely eating 2 meals a day to constantly looking for something to eat.  Perhaps thats why I chew a pack of gum a day..I have issues.

So now that I'm in the steady groove of my new lifestyle and weekly meal prep, I've been experimenting outside my chicken and steak norms.  I've posted photos of my stuffed peppers before, but they are now perfected to my tastes and a staple in my diet, so I think it's time to share! 
It has also been hard for me to switch up my vegetable selection. Until recently I can admit I've probably been about as picky as a 6 year old when it came to my food choices.  I've literally even turned down bribery offers exceeding $100 from my loving father to try things such as Flan {yuck, that goes against my consistency aversion}.  So anyway, being Paleo I really needed to start breaking out from my usual salads and green beans against my will.  Literally I could eat a salad {with meat of course} for every meal of every day and be as happy as a dog with two tails.

I've branched out to yellow and green squash, especially in the spaghetti form aka "zoodles".  If you don't have one of these awesome julienne peeler tools yet go get one right now--seriously it's amazing and with a little marinara sauce yumm--makes for another great side with these stuffed peppers.
On that note lets quickly side track to marinara sauce. If you've got the time and knack for making sauce, by all means its probably the best option for you, as brand names generally sneak some amount of sugar or other unfriendly ingredients in there. If you're like me and sometimes like to cheat the system when in a rush, there are brands similar this that have no sugar added and low sodium, which gets the job done just as well!
But what I really want to share with you is an even bigger step I've made: cauliflower.  Now I'm not a huge fan of it in the floret form yet, and definitely not raw, but I've finally attempted to make cauliflower rice and it is really delicious! I think the fact that cauliflower adapts to flavoring quite easily makes it a very versatile vegetable. I'm going to share a simple version with you that is perfect paired with these peppers, but feel free to experiment with stir fry, spices, and any other form of rice that tickles your fancy.
Stuffed Peppers
4 Red Bell Peppers
1lb Lean Ground Turkey
Spinach, giant handful
Cauliflower Rice, optional
Marinara Sauce {No sugar or you're own homemade}
Italian Seasonings

Cauliflower Rice
1 Medium Head Cauliflower
Yellow Onion, finely chopped
Olive Oil

Cauliflower rice:
Chop up a medium head of cauliflower into smaller pieces and place in a food processor.  Pulse for about 1 minute or so until the cauliflower takes on the size and texture of rice. 
* 1 head will make enough rice for about 4-5 meals, so you can store it in a ziploc bag or container until ready to be cooked. 

Stuffed Peppers:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the tops off the peppers and save as covers when baking the stuffed peppers.  Use a large muffin pan, or cupcake pan, to stand the bell peppers upright.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add ground turkey and season with salt, pepper and italian seasonings.  Brown until almost fully cooked through.
Lower heat slightly and add a heaping handful of spinach, and some cauliflower rice if you'd like for added flavor and heartiness. cook for about 1 minute or so until spinach has wilted and is fully encorporated.  Add about 1 cup of marinara sauce, depending on your tastes, and stir to fully encorporate.
Turn off the heat and begin to stuff peppers evenly into the 4 prepared bell peppers. Continue to fill until all peppers are full.  Cover with the tops to the peppers and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the peppers are cooked.
When the peppers are almost done, heat a small skillet with olive oil.  Place in chopped onions and cook for a minute or so until fragrant.  Add in desired amount of cauliflower rice, season with salt and pepper, and allow to cook/fry for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Remove from the heat and serve plated with a stuffed pepper! Or make a mess like me, mix it all together and enjoy :)