Thursday, April 28, 2011

Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies

Before I get to these amazing brownies, I would just like to remind everyone that Bloggers Bake for Hope bake sale starts next Wednesday, May 4th.  All profits go to Susan G Komen for the Cure.  You only have three days to bid, the sale ends the end of the day Friday, May 6th.  Take a look at what's for sale by clicking here.  It's a great cause, and you'll get to experience the baking of some amazing bloggers!  Let me know if you have any questions, I'll remind you next week too :)
Now - the brownies.  As you all know, I enjoy anything with peanut butter and chocolate, brownies are a pretty great addition too.  This is like a peanut butter cup with a brownie on the bottom instead of a layer of chocolate.  Yes, please rush to your kitchen and make these now, you'll love them.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13 inch baking pan.  Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the paper extend up the sides of the pan and butter the parchment paper.  This will allow you to remove the brownies from the pan much easier.  In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter.
 Remove from heat and add the sugar and stir to combine.  I poured the butter into a bowl before I added the sugar, because my pan wasn't large enough to work with. 
Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined.
Mix in cocoa, baking powder and salt.
Finally add the flour and stir until just combined with no streaks of dry ingredients left. 
Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake for around 25 minutes. 
After they were finished in the oven I left the brownies to cool in the pan for around 20 minutes, then took them out using the parchment paper and left on a cooling rack for probably another half hour.
While the brownies are cooling, make the peanut butter filling.  In a bowl with an electric mixer or stand mixer, combine the ingredients and beat until smooth.  Add more milk if necessary to allow you to spread it on top of the brownies. 
Spread the peanut butter filling in an even layer over the brownies.  Place in the fridge for around 30 minutes to allow the filling to set.
While filling is setting in the fridge, make the genache.  Combine the ingredients in a double broiler or in the microwave using a microwave safe bowl.  Melt together and combine.  Then pour the genache over the top of the peanut butter layer.
Spread evenly and gently.  Then return to the fridge for another 20 minutes or so, until set.  The chocolate will get hard, that's when you know it's ready! 
I sliced them into a "two bite" piece.  They're very rich, so I would make sure you don't cut them into huge pieces.  Most people will probably only be able to handle a few bites at a time.  I, on the other hand, could handle the whole batch at one time.  These were the perfect chocolate/peanut butter combination.  The brownie tasted great, and the peanut butter layer was soft and creamy.  If you read through the steps, you'll see these aren't a quick dessert to make, they take some time.  It is so worth the wait, and I got a lot of compliments on them.  Get your sweet tooth ready and enjoy!

Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies
Adapted from: Sweet Pea's Kitchen
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Peanut Butter Filling:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1-3 teaspoons milk

Genache Topping:
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 cups chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13 inch baking dish.
Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, and allow it to extend up the two sides.
Butter the parchment paper as well.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.
Remove from the heat and add the sugar, stir to combine.
Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined.
Mix in cocoa, baking powder and salt. 
Add flour and stir until just combined and there aren't any streaks of dry ingredients.
Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly.
Bake for around 25 minutes, and let cool completely.
While the brownies are cooling, make the peanut butter filling.
In a bowl with a mixer combine the ingredients and beat until smooth.
Add more milk if necessary to be spreadable.
Spread in an even layer over the brownies.
Place in the fridge until filling is set, around 30 minutes.
While the filling is setting make the genache.
Combine the ingredients in a double broiler or in a microwave safe bowl.
Melt together and combine.
Pour the genache over the top of the peanut butter filling and spread gently.
Return to the fridge for another 20 minutes, until set.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Little About Me...

Today I thought I would jump on the blogging train and do a post about me, myself, and I.  I found this on GingerBreadCake and figured it would be a great way to add a little personal information to my blog.  I chose the picture above because I consider myself in my prime when it was taken!  It was my last week living in Europe, and I was spending time with my two best friends at our favorite bar.  Plus I was happy with how much I weighed and how long my hair was...please no judgement :)

A. Age: About three weeks into 26. 
B. Bed size:  Full... wanting to upgrade to a Queen, asap.
C. Chore you hate: Taking out the garbage.
D. Dogs: Hallie!!  Although she lives with my parents, she's still my puppy.
E. Essential start to your day: Coffee and twitter - yes I've become addicted, ask C.
F. Favorite color: Pink
G. Gold or silver: Always been silver, but I'm buying more gold now.  It goes better with certain outfits.
H. Height: 5'6
I. Instruments you play: Piano and drums's been light years since I've played both though.
J. Job title: Allocator
K. Kids: No thanks.  In about 20 years maybe.
L. Live: Dallas, Texas
M. Mom’s name: Denise
N. Nicknames: Shell, Bell, Tis
O. Overnight hospital stays: None!
P. Pet peeve: Hmm I have a lot haha :)  The one that's popping into my head right now fake laughing.
Q. Quote from a movie: "You had me at hello."  obviously.  Or the beginning of the Notebook "I'm a common man, and have led a common life.  But I have loved someone with all I have, and that's always been enough." or something like that.  Love it.
R. Right or left handed: Right.
S. Siblings: A pretty cool younger brother, Ev.
T. Time you wake up: Whatever time I need to wake up plus 20 minutes :)  I like sleep.
U. Underwear: Since my Mom, Dad and Grandma read this I'm going to let you just guess!
V. Vegetables you dislike: Cooked carrots.  Gross.
W. What makes you run late: I wake up late.. and I take forever to get ready. 
X. X-Rays you’ve had: Ankle and shoulder.  Drunk accident and car accident.  One pretty funny, one not so much.
Y. Yummy food you make: Well I'm a food blogger, so everything.  Kidding, I've had a lot of let downs!  I think the best thing I make are cookies though :)
Z. Zoo – favorite animal: Penguins

See you all back here tomorrow for some food!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lemon Blueberry Scones

This was a first for me.  I've never made scones, nor would I consider myself a fan of scones.  If I'm going to get something for breakfast it's usually a muffin, pancakes, eggs, or lately mainly French toast.  I saw this recipe from Dorie Greenspan and thought it sounded delicious. So, I gave it a go, and figured the worst that could happen is I try them and throw them out.. or pick the blueberries out and eat those!  I was pleasantly surprised.  When I think of scones I think of a hard dough, and these were soft and fluffy.  The lemon and blueberry flavors together are awesome.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Beat egg, buttermilk and lemon zest together and set aside.  In a separate bowl beat one egg with one teaspoon of water and set aside for egg wash.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together.  Add butter and using a fork, or your fingers (which is what I did) cut into the flour until you have a pebbly mixture the size of peas.
Pour egg and cream into the flour mixture and stir to combine with a spatula.   
Very gently fold the blueberries into the dough, be careful not to crush them.  This proved the hardest part of the recipe for me.  As I've said before I'm very messy and usually don't take my time, so not getting blueberries everywhere was a little tough.  Be patient and gentle and you should be fine.  
When the mixture is totally incorporated, pat the dough onto a floured surface until it's around one inch thick.  Using a biscuit butter, or in my case a pizza cutter (gotta make do with what you have!) cut out circles, or into slices.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Brush the tops of the scones with the egg wash, then sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for 15-18 minutes, until nicely browned.  Serve immediately.  Store any leftovers in an airtight container.
I served them warm with a fruit salad.  It was a very beautifully colored plate, as you can see!  I really enjoyed the scones and will be trying some different things with the recipe.  The fruit in them gave them extra flavor and really sparked me to think of the many ways I could make these.. more to come on that :)  Enjoy!

Lemon Blueberry Scones
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan
2 eggs
1 teaspoon water
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
zest of two large lemons
1/2 pint fresh blueberries
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Beat one egg with one teaspoon of water for the egg wash, set aside.
Beat buttermilk, one egg and lemon zest together and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together. 
Add the butter and using a fork or your hands cut the butter into the flour until you have a pebbly mixture.
Pour the egg and cream mixture into the flour and stir to combine.
Very gently fold in the blueberries.
When totally combined roll dough out on a floured surface until around one inch thick.
Using a biscuit cutter cut our circles.  You can also cut out triangles (like I did) or squares.
Brush tops of the scones with egg wash, then sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 15-18 minutes until nicely browned.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tuna Noodle Casserole

There are a few meals that will always remind me of childhood and being at home with my family, tuna casserole is one of them.  It was one of my Mom's staples, and besides tasting great, there are many other reasons to make it.  It's quick, easy, good for you, and you can feed a bunch of people with one dish! 
Boil water for pasta and cook pasta according to package directions.  I used whole wheat pasta and it worked out great.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Melt butter over medium heat and add garlic. 
Saute for a minute, then add flour, cooking and stirring for about one minute.
Slowly add milk and stir often until sauce becomes thicker.  I used skim milk, if you want to make it richer you can use 2% or whatever you like.
Add tuna to the sauce and remove from heat.  Stir into sauce until evenly distributed.
I also added some broccoli to this recipe to add some veggies.  Steam on the stove while the pasta is cooking.
Drain the pasta and mix the pasta, sauce and the broccoli together.
Freshly grated Parmesan makes every recipe better :)
Sprinkle the Parmesan on top and mix into the pasta.
You can serve immediately or bake for 20 minutes.  I put the mixture in a 9x13 inch pan, sprayed with non-stick spray, and baked for around 15 minutes. 
It came out perfectly.  Although I don't have a calorie count, this is a great healthy dinner.  I mentioned it before, but it is very quick and easy!  You don't have to cut up a lot of veggies, and you won't use a lot of dishes, so it's perfect for a week night meal.  I can be iffy on if I like tuna or not, but I love it in a creamy casserole.  Try it out, might surprise you! 
I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend and were around family and friends.  I was very lucky to have my whole family around this past weekend, and was pretty sad to see them leave today.  My apartment will be pretty quiet compared to what it's been like this past week.  I'm guessing I'll be baking and cooking to make up for it :)  Happy Monday everyone!

Tuna Noodle Casserole
*Makes around 4 1/2 servings
2 cups chopped broccoli
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups of milk
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoons salt
12oz can of tuna
Parmesan cheese
~1/2 box whole wheat pasta shells

Boil water for pasta and cook according to package directions.
While pasta is cooking, steam the broccoli until crisp and tender.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Melt butter over medium heat and add garlic.
Saute for a minute, then add flour, cooking and stirring for around a minute.
Slowly add milk and stir often until sauce thickens.
Add tuna to sauce and remove from heat.
Drain pasta and mix the pasta, sauce and broccoli together.
Add Parmesan on top.
Serve immediately or bake for 15-20 minutes.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Pink Grapefruit Cupcakes

This recipe came as a suggestion from my friend Shannon.  The recipe calls for mini-cupcakes, and it's only 116 calories per cupcake.  I assumed since I made regular sizes cupcakes they were about double that, so around 230 calories.  Not too bad!  I brought these into work for a lunch, and everyone loved them.  They were all trying to guess the flavor, because they could tell it was different.  Overall, these turned out awesome, and the low fat ingredients make them even better!
Start by combining flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.  Beat butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Add eggs and mix until smooth.
Add half of flour mixture and combine.  Repeat with the remaining flour mixture.
I used 2% low fat Greek yogurt for the recipe, and thought it was great in these cupcakes!
Add yogurt and vanilla and beat at low speed.
Blend in zest.  Confession: I only bought one grapefruit, so I was a little short on the zest.  They didn't have as distinct of a grapefruit taste, but were still delicious.
Scoop dough into cupcake papers, and fill about 2/3.  Bake at 350 degrees F until the top springs back when touched lightly in the center.  I baked for around 14 minutes. 
Remove from oven and let cool completely.
I thought this grape fruit was so pretty!
Squeeze about two tablespoons of grapefruit juice out for the frosting.
To make the frosting,  place cream cheese in a medium bowl; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy.  Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and grape fruit juice, beat until smooth.  Add food coloring and mix until frosting is light pink.  Frost cupcakes when completely cooled. 
These were so tasty!  Pretty light, but full of flavor.  The Greek yogurt adds protein and keeps the cupcakes moist.  The grapefruit flavor is fresh and adds something different.  Thanks Shan for the great recipe!!!  PS These would also be great as an Easter treat :)

I hope everyone has a great weekend.  My whole famn damily is in town, as of this afternoon.  They have been trickling in as the week has gone by, and my Dad's the last to arrive this afternoon.  It'll be a fun packed weekend for sure!  See you here on Monday.

Pink Grapefruit Cupcakes
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/3 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons grapefruit zest
1 8oz package 1/3 low fat cream cheese
4 cups powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons grapefruit juice
2 drops red food coloring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.
Add eggs; mix until smooth.
Add half of flour mixture, and combine.  Repeat with remaining flour.
Add yogurt and vanilla; blend and low speed.
Beat in grapefruit zest. 
Scoop dough into cupcake pan, each cup around 2/3 full.
Bake until tops spring back when touched lightly in the center, around 14 minutes.
Remove from oven an cool completely.
Place cream cheese in a medium bowl; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy.
Add powdered sugar, vanilla, grapefruit juice and beat until smooth.
Add food coloring and mix until light pink. 
Frost cupcakes to your liking, and enjoy!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wear Flowers In Your Hair...

I thought I would share some of my non-food San Francisco pictures.  Yes, believe it or not, we did do other things picture worthy other than eat.  :)  This was the view from our hotel.  We stayed on Van Ness, and although we never really stayed around that area to eat or do things, it seemed like it was right in the middle of everywhere we went, so it was a pretty good location if you ask me.  Plus, the view was beautiful!
Friday afternoon we took the ferry trip and toured Alcatraz.  If you've never done this and have the opportunity to see it, I would highly recommend going.  It was so interesting, and although the prison itself and some of the buildings are a little creepy looking, the island is beautiful.  The view across the bay of the city is breathtaking!  The picture here is of the front of the island, you can see the prison and the warden's house - although it's hardly standing anymore.
There were so many worn down buildings, and there wasn't much information on what they used to be.  It was pretty how plants, flowers, and birds just kind of worked around it.
More flowers on the island!  The families of the officers that used to live there kept great gardens, and the landscaping today is still kept up very well.
This was on the side of the prison, and it was their "rec area."  If the prisoners were on good behavior they were allowed to go outside to play basketball, baseball, horse shoes, or sit on the steps and enjoy the pretty views of San Fran in the distance.
Gi and I right in front of the prison with San Fran behind us.  It's too bad there was a prison on the island, it would be an awesome place to have a house or hotel!
We had to take a ride on the cable cars of course!  Note: if you find yourself waiting in line at Fisherman's Wharf to get on, walk up the street to the next stop.  Granted you won't get the best seat, but it beats waiting in line for an hour!
Such a pretty picture from the cable car.  I thought the city was very beautiful and reminded me a lot of European cities.  Overall, we had such a great trip.  I loved California, and hope to go back again very soon, I feel like I could have spent another week there.  There were so many places I wanted to see!  I'm by no means and expert, but if anyone has questions about my trip and need any suggestions please let me know.

Friday. Get. Here. Faster.
See you back here tomorrow!