Thursday, February 23, 2012

Maple Coconut Granola

Today is a strange day. I am in Boston in my lunch break and it is sunny and rainy and warm and February. That is strange in it of itself. But stranger yet, is where I am going tonight. This evening, I am flying back to good old Fairfax, Virginia, where I will sleep in my adolescent house for the last three nights ever.
That house, which I loathed when we first moved, was a game changer. In that house, I met some of the best friends someone could ask for. I made plenty of mistakes and plenty of advancements. I grew up from a very insecure girl to a slightly less but still awkward teenager to (what I would like to consider) a pretty squared away young lady. I've spent hours laughing, crying, watching movies with my family and gossiping with friends on my big blue couches. I've spent hours sitting at the kitchen table doing crossword puzzles and waiting for things to finish in the oven. Memories, people, memories.

So it will be a tiny bit bittersweet for me. Happy my parents are both blissfully retired and moving into their dream lives, but sad that the place I called home for so many years will no longer be ours. So here is a little taste of home, one that I can count on when things they are a-changing.

Maple Coconut Granola
2.5 cups regular rolled oats
1 cup sliced pecans
1/2 cup shelled sunflower seeds
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
1/4 cup chia seeds
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup maple syrup (or honey combination)
2 tbsp cooking oil
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
2 tsp sea salt 
2 tsp cinnamon sugar combination

1. Preheat oven to 300F. Grease a cookie sheet and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the oats, pecans, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, chia seeds and sesame seeds. In another bowl, combine maple/honey and oil. Stir into oats mixture, making sure entire mixture is saturated. 
2. Spread entire mixture evenly in the prepared pan and sprinkle with sea salt and cinnamon/sugar. Bake in oven for 30 minutes and  stir. Add coconut and cook until lightly toasted. Should you choose to add dried fruit, stir it in after you remove granola from oven.
3. Spread on a large piece of foil to cool and store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

National Chocolate Day

Who knew it was National Chocolate Day?! Well, I can dig that, and so should you. I'm not going to bore you with my words, rather, let you slip into the deep abyss of my favorite ingredient... ever. I'm sure you can find something you like.

Happy Chocolate Day!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mississippi Mud Brownies

This one goes out to all the girls waiting by the phone for him to call. To all the girls who know they are worth more than some jerk ignoring them. To all the ladies who are fed up. Oh... and to all the girls who don't have Valentine's Day plans. I am not a cynic! I love love! It's wonderful and fantastic and rich and satisfying. But for those of us who cannot find it or do not have it, well, let me let you in on a little secret: chocolate. It comes in all shapes and sizes, flavors and consistencies. It is, perhaps, the best food on the planet. And you know I love it, don't you?
I posted this recipe about a year and a half ago, but it goes without saying that it should be posted again. So whether you are making these for your special someone or mournfully eating them straight out the the pan alone in your kitchen with The Notebook on in the background, this time of the year deserves Mississippi Mud Brownies; thank you Warren Brown!

Mississippi Mud Brownies
Dry Ingredients
7 oz AP Flour (1.5 cups)
3 oz Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (3/4 cup)
½ tsp Salt

Wet Ingredients
8 oz Unsalted Butter (very soft!)
16 oz Granulated Sugar (2 cups)
2 Whole Eggs
2 Egg Yolks

2 tbsp Heavy Cream
9 oz Unsweetened Chocolate, Melted

3 cups Mini Marshmallows
-OR- a favorite marshmallow frosting

“Mud” Icing Ingredients
4 oz Unsalted Butter, Melted (1 stick)
1 oz Cocoa Powder (1/4 cup)
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
6 oz Sifted Confectioners Sugar (4 cups)
5 oz Bittersweet Chocolate, melted

What ya do:
1. Preheat the oven to 325 and grease a 9x13 inch pan and melt the 9oz of unsweetened chocolate as directed on package. Add heavy cream, if necessary, to thin it out. Measure the dry and wet ingredients (not including melted chocolate) into separate bowls and set aside.
2. Combine butter and sugar in a standing mixer and mix on low for 3 minutes. Add eggs and yolks all together just before mixture creams.
3. Add dry ingredients and mix briefly, without fully combining. Stop mixer, scrape batter off beater and fold in melted chocolate by hand.
4. Pour into pan and bake 25-30 minutes, and beware, unlike a usual brownie, an inserted toothpick should come out with crumbs on it. Top the brownies with mini marshmallows and return to oven for 5 more minutes. Let it cool completely and top with "Mud" Icing.
5. For icing, combine all ingredients in bowl and whisk slowly to blend. When smooth, pour over cooled brownies and enjoy.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Chocolate Chip Blondies

It is February 1st. Hallelujah, January is over. I blogged one time in January, and it was in that post that I said we should all embrace the first month of the year and make it our own. Well goodness gracious, I could not be happier January is over. January was full of a lot of up and downs. A lot of up and downs. Between my social circle, we could have had a soap opera.

When life gives you lemons... well, damn, we're sick of lemonade. When it rains it pours...well, my umbrella is wearing thin.So here is to a new month and a new start for this year. I am leaving January behind me and I am moving forward. And I am eating blondies.

Chocolate Chip Blondies
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 chocolate chips (white, milk or butterscotch works too)
1/3 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips (white, milk or butterscotch works too)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Measure 1 cup of sifted flour. Add baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sift again. Add 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. Mix well and set aside.
2. Melt 1/3 cup butter. Add 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar and mix well. Cool slightly. Add beaten egg  and vanilla. Blend well. Add flour mixture, a little at a time, mixing well.
3. Spread in 9 x 9 pan sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle 2/3 chocolate chips on top and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.