Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

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Downtown Seattle looking festive

Another Christmas has come and gone. I survived another year of relatives, parents, parents’ friends probing me about when I will reach certain life milestones like my peers. Yikes.

The Holidays can be wonderful…and stressful. Thank goodness for these Chocolate Peppermint Cookies I adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod blog to make things better. I carried a huge box in my backpack on my Seattle to Bay Area flight and went straight to a Christmas Eve party from the airport and they were a big hit!

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What you’ll need (This recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies!):

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candies

Prep work (TIP: do this hours before baking!):

  • leave butter out at room temp
  • leave eggs out at room temp

I took left over candy canes from my office holiday party (I knew no one would miss them, so I put them to good use!)

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The funnest part of the recipe

  1. Crush the candies!
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F and line your cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Take the flour, baking soda, sea salt, cocoa – blend well, until it’s a light brown color.
  4. With a stand mixer, pour in your sugars and then add in butter – cream together.
  5. Add one egg, mix, add the second egg, mix until just blended.
  6. Add in peppermint and vanilla extracts.
  7. Little by little, pour in the dry flour mix. Starting and stopping the mixer to scrap the sides if needed. I did this about 6 times before it was all in. Do not over mix.
  8. Lastly mix in the chocolate chips.
  9. If the cookie dough feel a little too sticky or thin to easily hand roll into balls, then stick the dough in the fridge for 1 hour, should help firm it up.
  10. Scoop out about 1 tablespoon of dough and roll into little balls.
  11. “Dip” them into the crushed peppermint candy and place them on your sheet with about 2 inch spacing.
  12. Bake for 10-11 minutes, until centers are still soft, but candy has not melted.
  13. Remove from oven and let cool for about 3-5 minutes.
  14. Transfer to cool completely on a wire rack.
  15. Taste test and enjoy!

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Hope you all enjoyed a wonderful holiday, whether you were with friends, family, or just hiking alone in the mountains – be thankful for the gift of the present and not just the presents under the tree!

Please sir may I have S’more Bars?

What is the quintessential summer food for you? Watermelon wedges? ice cream cones? BBQ grilled corn?

Well for me it’s s’mores.

Rich melted chocolate with fluffy, ooey-gooey marshmallows sandwiched between two squares of crunchy, slightly sweet graham crackers. I never made my first s’more by a bonfire until I was in college, and now it always brings back memories of carefree, warm summer nights by the Pacific Ocean. IMG_2165I wanted to bring dessert to a casual potluck/board game night and I thought this S’more Bar recipe from Averie Cooks would be perfect: transportable, sweet and simple, and doesn’t take itself too seriously!

You will need:

  • 1 large mixing bowl
  • handmixer or standmixer
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • cutting board
  • knife
  • foil and cooking spray or parchment paper
  • 8 x 8 inch square pan
  • 1 stick or 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 packed cup of light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 full sheets of graham crackers, chopped (makes about 2 cups)
  • 1 full cup of mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

IMG_2143Start by pre-heating the oven to 350°F. I love that this is one of those throw-everything-in-1-bowl recipes, by the time the oven is done pre-heating, your batter will be ready to bake.

Best part: you don’t even need to soften the butter (which I always forget to do!).

Cut up the stick of butter into 4-5 slices and microwave in a small bowl for about 1-2 minutes. Pour into your mixing bowl and add in 1 cup of light brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of vanilla. Make sure the butter mixture is still not too hot, because you don’t want it to cook your egg.

Add in the egg and beat until well blended. IMG_2145Add in 3/4 cup of flour gradually and mix until smooth. The batter smells heavenly like caramel! IMG_2146Chopping up the graham crackers was not as bad as I expected. I thought cracker bits would be flying all over the kitchen.IMG_2147I left the crackers in fairly large chunks and saved the crumbs and added it into the batter. Now pour in 1 big cup of marshmallows + 1 big cup of chocolate chips. IMG_2149YYYYYYYAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSS.IMG_2151Fold gently until all the ingredients are well mixed and spread evenly on to a 8×8 in. pan lined with foil or parchment paper for easy clean up. IMG_2152It’s ready to go into the oven! The original recipe said “20-22 minutes or until bars have firmed up in the center and edges have set”. All ovens are different and you may have to use some visual judgement on this. For my oven it was not thoroughly baked until 26-29 minutes and the edges had just started to firm up. IMG_2154Let it cool for about 30 minutes. To make it easier to cut into squares, about 15 minutes in, place it in the refrigerator for another 15 minutes.

OR…serve it warm with vanilla ice cream – crazy idea…. I think so! IMG_2156Cut it up into bars for serving. IMG_2160The chunks of crunchy graham cracker, pillowy marshmallows and creamy chocolate give these bars great texture and taste. IMG_2158They will satisfy any sugar junky’s sweet tooth! IMG_2166These bars will make you understand why they are called “S’mores”! IMG_2161Oliver Twist wasn’t talking about gruel when he asked for more….he was taking about these S’more Bars!

Brown Butter Blueberry Cobbler

This recipe is absolutely magical! Four-that’s right four– ingredients that suddenly become the most mouthwatering, sweetest cobbler I’ve ever tasted ! I was searching around online for a recipe where I could use my fresh blueberries (yay for summer season fruits!) and my extra box of yellow cake mix, after much searching I found kevin’s and amanda’s Brown Butter Blueberry Cobbler!

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This is another result of me trying to clear out my baking cabinet as I pack and prepare for a big move. (Plus I just wanted an excuse to buy vanilla ice cream.)

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9×11 pan (I definitely prefer a small pan for a thicker cobbler).

Like the original recipe says you’ll need:

  • 3 cups of fruit (blueberry, strawberry, peach, blackberry, etc.) imagine the possibilities! Fresh or frozen works!
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 1 box of yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 cup sugar – I definitely feel like this is optional, or less sugar would be good since the cake mix and ice cream will be very sweet already.

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The key to this particular cobbler is the first step: browning the butter (definitely check out the easy guide from kevin and amanda’s blog for an easy guide). This process gives the butter a rich, caramel-y flavor. Place the stick of butter in shallow, heavy bottom pan on medium-high heat. Stir, stir, stir until the liquid starts turning darker and you may start seeing brown bits start to form at the bottom.

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Pour the whole bag of yellow cake mix into a heatproof  mixing bowl (don’t want your plastic mixing bowl to melt). Then slowly add the brown butter to the mix, whisk until you have a dry, crumbly mixture. This is your cobbler topping.

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Take your fruit and stir in the sugar if you want it extra sweet. Otherwise spread the fruit evenly at the bottom of the baking pan, spread the butter/cake crumble mixture on top. Pop it in the oven for 40 minutes!!

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The cobbler is ready when the top is a toasty light brown and the fruit is bubbling. I know it’s tempting to just eat some right away after being teased by the smell for 40 minutes, but let it cool for about 5-10 minutes.

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Serve with ice cream!

The cake crumble mixture is sweet and crunchy- the perfect texture combination with the creaminess of the ice cream and warm sweetness of the fruit! Sit out on your porch and enjoy some seconds!

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2 (okay more like 4) Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

I’ve been wanting to try these “mug recipes” that pop up on my Facebook newsfeed- amazing meals and treats that you cook and eat in your friggin’ mug!! Good news for those college students in dorms! No excuses- all you have to do is mix and let your chef microwave do the work!

Plus- keeps the clean up to a minimum.

I borrowed this super-easy recipe from I Am a Food Blog: 2 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake Recipe. Doubling the recipe because I have a feeling I won’t be sharing!

2014-06-16 21.18.37First find a slightly larger microwavable mug (you want a bigger mug because the batter does rise and could spill over a little.)

Stir together 1 egg, 3 tablespoons of milk, 3 tablespoons of oil (coconut, vegetable, canola, etc.)

2014-06-16 21.28.39Mix in 3 tablespoons of flour, 1/4 cup sugar (I know it’s a LOT of sugar proportionally- so I’d say you can use less), 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder. Stir until well mixed. Lastly, add a splash of vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips. Give it a few good stirs.

2014-06-16 21.28.49Depending on your microwave’s power-you’ll “bake” it in there for 2-4 minutes. I had to do 4 minutes because I have a dinky cheap microwave (that I need to clean…..I know I know.) At 2 minutes it still looked really softed, so I left it in longer. It was pretty firm, so maybe next time 3- 3 1/2 minutes would have been good too. Place a plate underneath to ensure no messy spillage in the microwave.

2014-06-16 21.36.31There it is, my first mug cake! It’s hot, definitely use mitts and let it cool for 5 minutes.

2014-06-16 21.52.48Enjoy it any way you like, this is a very basic chocolate cake you can eat straight from the mug with a spoon. Or you can jazz it up in all sorts of ways. Consider adding:

  • sprinkles (can’t go wrong with sprinkles)
  • whip cream
  • a scoop of ice cream
  • caramel sauce
  • banana slices/ fruit
  • nutella
  • walnuts
  • bacon bits
  • sea salt
  • All of the above.

2014-06-16 21.51.49It falls out pretty easily from the mug if you want to put it on a plate. It’s almost like an upside-down cake with the melted chocolate chips that fell to the bottom giving the top an extra creamy sweetness. The cake is very dense and fudgy. I’m so intrigued by the idea baking with oven-alternatives!

2014-06-16 21.53.11-1All good things come to those who wait, but no need to wait long for chocolate cake!

Healthy Veggie Frittata

I have a confession, this was a recipe born out of necessity due to stupidity. I apparently love zucchinis too much and bought more from the store when I did not realize I had a whole bunch at home already! Lesson learned: always take inventory of the fridge before grocery shopping. So what’s a girl to do with a ton of zucchinis?

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Shred the heck outta them and put them in anything I can think of.

I wanted to make a egg bake/ frittata with zucchini and other vegetables in my fridge, but I couldn’t find the “perfect” recipe that uses all the ingredients that I had. So used this recipe as a “base” for the right proportion of eggs, milk, and flour and got creative with the rest.

Whisk together 6 eggs, 3/4 cup milk, and 2 tablespoon of all-purpose flour.

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I had some fun adding tons of random spices! Got the idea from a variety of zucchini egg bake recipes. Of course fresh herbs would have been better.

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I took a buttered 9-in. round baking pan and filled the bottom up with all my favorites from my fridge: mini sweet bell peppers, asparagus cut into 1 in pieces, and shredded deli turkey meat. Look at those colors! Of course this is the fun part where you can add whatever you’d like: onions, peppers, corn, mushrooms, cheese, chicken strips, etc. Ooohhhhh, if only I had some bacon.

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Add about 2 cups of shredded zucchini. I actually wish I added it to the bottom and let the more colorful veggies be on top. Then pour the egg mixture into the pan until it fills up almost to the brim. When you bake it, it will puff up a little but it won’t spill over.

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Ready to go in the oven for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

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I almost forgot to add the sundried tomatoes before I took the before-picture and I sprinkled some sundried tomatoes from Trader Joe’s on top, it really was the much needed final touch! It not only made the frittata extra flavorful, but really made the dish visually pop.

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Pair with a side of greens and you got yourself a delicious healthy brunch.

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Happy brunching!

Bailey’s Irish Cream Cupcakes

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I know that I am totally late for a St. Paddy’s day themed cupcake, but come on- it’s got Bailey’s in it, do we need a reason to make (and eat) these boozy treats?! I’m pretty proud of these cupcakes, the cake and the buttercream frosting came out the way I hoped probably because I finally had a real free day to just bake! I admit I have a tendency to bake in the middle of the night and be rushing to finish and go to bed.

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For these delicious Bailey’s Irish Cream cupcakes I followed the Sweet Tooth blog version of it. Her decorations are so cute and festive! I don’t tend to drink to often, but I do remember being pretty fond of Bailey’s in college so thought St. Patrick’s Day weekend was the perfect opportunity to try an alcohol-infused cupcake.

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This is the star the show- using 1/2 cup in the batter (it leaves a light, barely-there hint of Irish Cream. Later in the buttercream, you’ll use 3 tablespoons which gives plenty of strong, smooth flavor of the liquor.

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Alternate adding the dry flour mixture and the Bailey’s into the egg mixture, starting and ending with flour.

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As soon as the mixture looks evenly mixed, fill the cups with the batter and bake for about 16 mins.

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They come out with a lovely light cappuccino color and they smell AMAZING. While they are cooling, get started on the buttercream. For the butter cream (the best part!), cream together 1 cup of room temperature butter, 4 cups of powdered sugar, and 3 tablespoons of Bailey’s. My family don’t like too much sweetness, so I definitely only made one batch of the buttercream for 24 cupcakes and I still had SO much left.

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I realized that after many failed attempts making frosting does not come easily to me and I realize that’s because I’m never well prepared or I’m in a hurry and I under mix or over mix the cream. This time, it came out perfect: thick, rich, smooth and fluffy!

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For a bit of jolly green cheer, I added some green sprinkles I bought from Michaels.

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Because of the Bailey’s in the buttercream, I would not actually give this to children! For those over 21, eat responsibly and don’t just lick off all the frosting! Cheers!

Wilton Course 2: Flower and Cake Design (Day 2)

It’s amazing what you can do with 2 pounds of powdered sugar and some water! All these flowers requires a very stiff icing called royal icing. Thank goodness for my Kitchen Aid stand mixer because anything less powerful and the icing would have been too hard to mix. This is embarrassing but I woke up with a sore arm from mixing in the pink dye!

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It’s no where near perfect, but I’m finally starting to understand how to make the rose. Royal icing dries and hardens so quickly you can make these 2 weeks in advance and store them until you are ready to put them on your cake or cupcakes.

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My floppy primroses….no matter what I do I can’t seem to get them to look like the teacher’s! We practiced making yellow rosebuds, apple blossoms and primroses too!

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Neat advice from our teacher: store flowers in muffin tins to keep them safe and allow them to air dry.

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