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!

(Super) Healthy Raspberry Chocolate Protein Brownies

Thought I’d kickoff this month with this super-healthy recipe that will rock your taste buds. June means summer and summer means getting in shape and you can’t do that with regular sugar-ladened brownies (well at least I can’t). I’m on a no-additive-sugar kick for the past few weeks, but last night I was kind of dying and looking for ways to cheat. I stumbled upon Ambitious Kitchen’s 100 Calorie Raspberry Chocolate Protein Brownies– and they were the answer to my prayers.

Yes, I know the chocolate chips probably have sugar.

2014-06-01 21.31.02The true miracle here was that I just so happen to have all the ingredients I needed including the raspberries (freshly bought before I intended to make these brownies), whey powder, agave nectar and coconut oil. These aren’t things I lot of people just have stocked up in their kitchens I assume.

You will need:

  • 8×8 square pan, greased (or use parchment paper)
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats + blender (or oat flour)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup Whey vanilla or chocolate powder (I got mine from Trader Joes)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce (which I didn’t have but I used a nice ripe banana instead)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon honey (replacement: agave nectar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup almond milk (or soy milk should be fine)
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips + 2 tablespoons for later)
  • 1/2 cup raspberries (rip in halves or pieces)

Preheat the oven for 350 F. Put the oats in a blender and blend for 45 sec to 1 min: instant oat flour! Cool beans.

2014-06-01 21.42.55Mix the oat flour with the cocoa powder and whey powder. Set aside.

2014-06-01 21.45.11Blend the wet ingredients well: mashed banana (or your apple sauce), egg, agave, vanilla extract and milk.

2014-06-01 21.45.25In a microwaveable bowl: heat up the chocolate chips with the coconut oil for about 45 seconds. The coconut oil looks like water, but don’t worry keep stirring and it blends well together.

2014-06-01 21.50.59Combine the wet mixture in with the dry mixture and then lastly, add the melted chocolate: blend blend blend away!

2014-06-01 21.52.23Pour into your prepared pan and arrange the raspberry pieces on top and sprinkle the extra chocolate chips on top.

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I’m not the biggest fan of raspberries, but these beautiful red gems make a HUGE difference in taste and texture with the finished product. The raspberry provides an extra tartness that brings out the very very (very!) subtle sweetness of the brownies.

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Bake for about 22-27 minutes and then take out to cool. I baked it for an extra 5 minutes than the original recipe because I wasn’t sure if the brownies were suppose to be that soft- I got a little worried that I did not bake them long enough. The extra 5 minutes firmed up the brownies a bit more.

2014-06-01 22.43.50The texture is definitely very similar to gluten-free or flourless desserts: very fudge-y and dense. I have to admit when I first bit into one I was like, it’s not sweet at all!!! Ugh! But I guess that’s what happens when I’m so used to eating lots of high-sugar foods. I really had to take a moment to find the subtle sweetness from the chocolate chips and agave. Mmmmm!

2014-06-01 22.43.36Remember to store these in a air-tight container and in the fridge. I have to warn you: these do taste super-healthy. It’s not going to taste like a Betty-Crocker brownie and have 100 calories: the world doesn’t work that way. But I definitely learned to appreciate these and since they are full of protein I can feel less guilty nibbling on one of these post-workout! Happy baking!

Mochi Brownies

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For a delicious brownie recipe with a twist, this Mochi Brownie recipe from justJENN is awesome! The best part was most of the ingredients are staples found in the kitchen with the exception of a few gems you’ll have to venture out for like the Mochiko sweet rice flour and evaporated milk.

I was pretty excited for another chance to make a sweet treat with Mochiko again after I made the Blueberry Mochi Cake that I still get requests for!

Start of with:

  • 1 cup mochiko (sweet rice flour)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

With the stickiness of mochi, parchment paper is your best friend. For extra ease of serving and clean up – butter the parchment paper and fit it to a square 8×8 pan.

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Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Melt the 4 Tbls of butter + 1/2 cup of chocolate chips (save the other half for later) on slow heat- keep stirring so you don’t burn the chocolate. Just has it’s all smooth and melted, remove from heat and set aside.

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In a bowl mix the dry ingredients together: mochiko, sugar, baking soda and salt.

*I actually only added 1/2 cup of sugar to reduce the sweetness and make it ever-so-slightly healthier. I think the chocolate will be plenty sweet enough.

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Slowly pour in the warm chocolate mixture into the dry ingredient bowl, then mix in the evaporated milk, vanilla, and egg. Add the egg at the end so the mixture has a real chance to cool from the milk or else the heat might cook the egg.

2014-05-03 21.38.28Once all the ingredients are thoroughly combined, pour into the pan. Lastly sprinkle the other 1/2 cup of chocolate chips into the pan. Then bake for about 35-40 minutes.

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The brownies came out wonderfully moist and with the mochi- extra chewy! The texture is definitely not the usual “cakey” or fudgey brownies. And I was right, the brownies were sweet but not too sweet with the perfect amount of chocolatey goodness- no real need for that extra 1/2 cup of sugar.

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2014-05-03 22.44.56Great to share at a party…..or eat by yourself while watching “Sex and the City”. hehe.

 

Mmmmm….Brownies

It’s 11pm on a Wednesday night and I had to whip up something quick for (another) work potluck a few weeks ago and luckily this quick, simple, yet delicious brownie recipe came to the rescue. This MMmm…Brownie recipe is pot to pan – less clean up!

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Start by melting the sugar, butter, and water in a medium pot (make sure it’s big enough for the ingredients you will add later). One of the best things about this particular recipe is that it does not require soften butter- so if I did not plan ahead and leave my butter out at room temperature that’s okay!

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Stir in 1 1/2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips (I used mini chips which helps it melt faster). These brownies are super-rich and moist because it uses chocolate chips instead of cocoa powder like some brownie recipes.

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After adding in the rest of the wet ingredients: eggs and vanilla, combine the dry ingredients and add to the pot.

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I think at this point of the night I started getting tired and randomly added whatever I could find in the kitchen- I wanted to give these plain brownies I little something-something. I stirred in marshmallows and walnuts for a Rocky Road twist.

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Maybe it was the intention of the orginal recipe to make really rich, chewy brownies, but the time I baked the brownies was no where long enough. I baked it for an additional 15-20 minutes so when I poked a toothpick in the center it finally came out clean.

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These brownies certainly live up to the name “MMmmmmm!”

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Now I just need a big tall glass of (soy) milk!