Brownie Pops, and Happy 4th of July!!


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Hope everyone in the US is enjoying all the celebrations paired with July 4th! And everyone else, happy Wednesday! Personally, I don’t really have any spectacular plans. My husband always sees a Will Smith movie or an alien movie on July 4th, so I think we’re going to see Men in Black 3 and hopefully we’ll get to see fireworks! They’re my favorite part of this holiday, afterall! 🙂So for today, I don’t really have a recipe per say, but a festive treat nonetheless. My nephew turned 2 last week and he had his party over the weekend. Since I live so close to my sister now, I helped her decorate and prepare for the party. It was a cute red and blue themed train party! I was in charge of dessert, like usual, and her request was brownie pops. She didn’t want to go through the hassle of making cake and making frosting and mixing them together (and by that, I think she didn’t want me to take the time and dishes to do all that :P). She wanted it simple, so she asked if I had a good fudgy brownie recipe that would require no extra add-ins and could be made into pops due to the extremely moist and fudgy quality of the brownies. I immediately recommended the Baked Brownie. Best brownie ever, and awesome for brownie pops!Like I said, I was in charge of the baking, so with the help of my older nephew, we made the brownies. Once cooled, I squished and rolled them into 1-inch ball, placed them on wax paper, stuck a lollipop stick into them, and froze them for 30 minutes. They were then dipped into melted chocolate chips/melts, allowed to set, then dipped halfway into melted white chocolate chips/melts and dipped in sprinkles. For my first attempt at any sort of cake pop/brownie pop, they came out pretty well though they certainly are a bit of work and time! Everyone loved them and they came out quite adorable if I do say so myself, but I think I’ll stick to cupcakes and cookies and whatnot! 🙂 One batch of brownies made about 45 brownie pops, and then we served the other batch of brownies straight up with the extra chocolates drizzled over them and any leftover sprinkles. I also wanted to share with you these cool stars that my sister found. You make them yourself with your choice of scrapbook paper, and they were a really nice addition to the party decorations. She now has them hanging in my nephew’s room and they look really cute in there, too!

So, that’s it for today! Hope everyone has a wonderful July 4th, and happy Wednesday! 🙂

P.S. I apologize for the quality of the photos… camera phone 😉

One Year Ago: Panko-Crusted Salmon


Baked Burritos with Sour Cream-Poblano Sauce


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I’m thinking I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a big fan of Mexican food. Yet, whenever I think that, I seem to contradict myself because then I crave Mexican food. But not restaurant Mexican food… can’t stand that stuff! But good ol’ homemade Mexican Tex-Mex, or whatever this is considered… love it! Or anything with taco seasoning! Hehe. Horrible logic, I know.

These burritos, though, are amazing. I made them a couple weeks ago before the move, and now I’m making them again! What can I say, I got a craving! You can change out the meat to any ground meat of your choosing, and they’re quick to cook up. Also, they reheat awesomely and apparently, you can freeze them once they’re baked, all of which makes them a great make-ahead option. If you’re a burrito-fan, these are a must try for you!One Year Ago: Cheddar-Herb Biscuits and Orecchiette with Spicy Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

Baked Burritos with Sour Cream-Poblano Sauce

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large onion, diced
1 pound ground beef
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (14.5-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup beef broth
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon oregano
1½ teaspoon chili powder
â…› teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Kosher salt
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
4 to 6 burrito tortillas
Cooking spray

Sour Cream-Poblano Sauce:
2 poblano peppers
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
â…” cup chicken broth at room temperature
½ cup sour cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the burritos: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat; add the oil and heat until shimmering. Add the onions and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned; drain any excess fat.  Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook for 30 to 60 seconds; add the beans, broth, cumin, oregano, chili powder, cayenne, and brown sugar. Stir to combine and salt to taste. Reduce heat and simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Place 2 tablespoons of the cheese in a line in the middles of each tortilla and spoon about ¼ of the beef mixture over the top of the cheese. Fold the left and right sides of the tortilla in, and then roll the tortilla up, from the end closest to you, to the top. Place seam-side down on a baking sheet and lightly spray the tops of the burritos with cooking spray.  Bake for about 20 minutes, until tortillas are golden brown and crispy.

To make the sour-cream poblano sauce: To prepare chiles with a gas stove, turn one of the burners to high. Using tongs, char the poblanos on all sides until black. To prepare the chiles with an oven, preheat the broiler. Place the poblanos on a foil lined baking sheet and broil until black, using tongs to turn the chiles to blacken all sides. Transfer the blackened poblanos to a resealable plastic bag and seal the bag; set it aside for 15 minutes. Remove chiles and peel them; discard the seeds and membranes to lessen the heat, if desired, then dice them; set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook for an additional minute, stirring constantly, to cook off the taste of flour. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and the poblanos; continue to simmer, whisking frequently, until thickened. Stir in the sour cream and warm through; season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the sauce over the baked burritos.

Source: Slightly adapted from Smells Like Home

Chocolate Whoopie Pies


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The move is done, we’re settling in, and we finally have internet! It’s been a while since I’ve moved and I forgot how much is involved. And over the years, especially after getting married, you really seem to accumulate a lot of stuff! And a lot of kitchen stuff, if you’re me. 🙂 So now it’s time to celebrate! And what better way than with some whoopie pies!

These are very traditional whoopie pies… chocolate (but of course!) with a marshmallow filling. And they come from one of my favorite cookbooks, Chocolate American Style. So much chocolatey goodness comes from this cookbook, such as this chocolate cream pie. I made these whoopie pies years ago when I first got this book, and my only complaint was that the filling was a little too soft and squished out too much. So, I made the cakes a little smaller and the filling a little stiffer, and we had pure whoopie pie bliss. They were so good, I pretty much refused to share… shame on me! I saved a couple for a friend, but other than that they were mine all mine. And my husband, but I think I ate more of them than he did!One Year Ago: Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Tomatoes and Mozzarella

Chocolate Whoopie Pies
18 to 20 whoopie pies

For the cakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 egg

For the filling:
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow cream
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

To make the cakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla, beating well to fully incorporate. With the mixer on low speed, add some of the flour mixture, then some of the buttermilk; alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk and mix until the batter is just combined and smooth.

Scoop heaping tablespoons of batter onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between each cake. Use slightly moistened fingertips to gently smooth and shape the cakes, if needed. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cakes are firm to the touch. Remove the baking sheets to wire racks, letting the cakes cool completely on the sheets.

To make the filling: In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, powdered sugar, and marshmallow cream; beat on high speed until smooth and fluffy; stir in the vanilla.

To assemble whoopie pies: Match up cakes in pairs by size. Spread filling onto the flat side of one cake of each pair. To make clean edges with the filling, transfer the filling to a piping bag and pipe a small amount one cake of each pair. Sandwich the cookies together, and press the filling to the edges. Serve immediately or wrap individually in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

Source: Adapted from Chocolate American Style by Lora Brody

Balsamic Portobello Mushroom Pizza


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Packing up for a move is quite a pain. It’s been a while since I last moved, and it’s amazing what all has accumulated over the years! At first, I was looking forward to packing as a chance to go through everything and toss what we no longer need. But after days of packing (and I only have a 2 bedroom apartment), I’m over it and I’m not having fun anymore! Hehe. A few more days and it will all be over… then it’ll just be time to unpack it all!

But once my pizza stone is unpacked, I have some pizza dough all ready and I can make this awesome pizza again! For those of you who have been fortunate enough to try a pizza from BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, this pizza what inspired by one of their Chicago deep dish pizzas. Theirs consists of balsamic portobello mushrooms and carmelized onions. Not being a big onion fan, I omitted the onions and went straight for some mushrooms tossed with balsamic vinegar, parsley, and thyme for some tang and fresh herb flavor. Top it off with some nutty Fontina cheese, and you have yourself a delicious, and seemingly fancy, pizza!One Year Ago: Chicken-Fried Steak with Cream Gravy and Chicken Piccata

Balsamic Portobello Mushroom Pizza

2 tablespoons olive oil
¾ pound baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced
½ teaspoon salt
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon parsley
8 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded
Pizza dough, unbaked

Place a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven, if using. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F for at least 30 minutes.

While the oven is heating, heat olive oil until shimmering in a large skillet. Add mushrooms and salt, and toss mushrooms to completely coat them. Cover the skillet and let the mushrooms sweat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and allow to cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add balsamic vinegar and cook another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley.

Meanwhile, Let the dough relax for at room temperature for 10 to 30 minutes before beginning to work with it. Lightly sprinkle parchment paper or a pizza peel with cornmeal or semolina flour. For a little garlic flavor, add some granulated garlic to the cornmeal or flour. Transfer the dough to your prepared surface, and shape the dough until it has a 12-inch diameter. Brush the outer edge lightly with olive oil.

Spread the mushroom mixture over the pizza dough, leaving a ½-inch border uncovered, then sprinkle with Fontina cheese. Slide the dough onto the heated stone, or place your baking sheet or pizza pan into the oven. Bake until the crust is golden brown, and cheese is bubbling, 8-12 minutes. Remove from the oven, slice and serve.

Source: Inspired by BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse

Spicy Poblano Burgers with Chipotle Cream


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I know, it’s been forever since I last posted… and I’d like to say I have legitimate excuses, but they would only be excuses! I have been keeping busy, though. My husband and I are moving in a couple of weeks so we’ve been getting things set up for that, and I’ve been working on setting things up for my own pet sitting business. Cross your fingers for me, please! My other big distraction has been due to my nerdy side. Diablo III came out, and I just had to try it! Yay for video games. Hehe 🙂

So, onto the burgers. I’ve been coming across a lot of burger recipes on the blogs I follow, and with summer coming and the weather warming up, they’ve all sounded really good. I have quite a few burger recipes I’m hoping to try this summer! These were the first ones I tried, and they were fantastic! I’m not usually a fan of spicy things, but I read that poblano chiles were relatively mild and they sounded too good to pass up. Besides, I love to try new things! The burgers were incredibly moist and delicious, and the chipotle cream was the perfect topping. Even on its own, the cream was wonderful and I’m hoping to find other uses for it since I loved it so much! But all in all, these burgers are awesome, and you should definitely add them to your summer menu!One Year Ago: Portobello Fettuccine

Spicy Poblano Burgers with Chipotle Cream
Yield: 4 burgers

2 poblano chiles
1 tablespoon milk
1 (1 oz) slice white bread, crusts removed and torn into ½-inch pieces
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro, divided
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 pound ground beef
½ cup light sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, seeds removed and finely chopped
2 teaspoons adobo sauce
4 hamburger buns, toasted
lettuce, tomato or other toppings

To prepare chiles with a gas stove, turn one of the burners to high. Using tongs, char the poblanos on all sides until black. To prepare the chiles with an oven, preheat the broiler. Place the poblanos on a foil lined baking sheet and broil until black, using tongs to turn the chiles to blacken all sides. Transfer the blackened poblanos to a resealable plastic bag and seal the bag; set it aside for 15 minutes. Remove chiles and peel them; discard the seeds and membranes to lessen the heat, if desired, then finely chop them; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the milk and bread, using a fork to mash them together into a thick paste. Add the chiles, 1½ tablespoons cilantro, cumin, coriander, paprika, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper; mix to combine. Add the ground beef, and use your hands to gently combine the mixture, making sure to not overwork it. Divide into four equal portions, and shape each into a ½-inch thick patty. Using your thumb, make an indent in the middle of the burger (this helps keep the burgers flat instead of doming in the middle). Let patties sit at room temp for about 15 minutes before placing them on the grill.

Whiles the burgers rest, preheat your grill to medium-high heat (about 400 to 450 degrees F). Oil the grates lightly.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl stir together the remaining 1½ tablespoons cilantro, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, sour cream, lime juice, chipotle chile, and adobo sauce; set aside.

Place the burgers on the grill and cook for about 3 minutes. Flip the burgers and cook for about 3 more minutes, or until cooked to desired level of doneness. Serve on toasted hamburger buns with the chipotle cream, lettuce, tomato, or your favorite burger toppings.

Source: Tracey’s Culinary Adventures, via Cooking Light