Saturday, May 26, 2012

Awesome Chocolate Chip Cookies


Hi everyone! Oh my goodness, I'm going to get straight to the point: these cookies are AWESOME!!! There is just no other description... I had pinned this recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything and have been dying to make it! And the wait was totally worth it; these cookies were soooooo chewy, with the right amount of chocolate (which is a whole bunch!). I've tried many different chocolate chip cookie recipes, but this one takes the crown! I just can't rave enough about them, you'll just have to make these and try for yourself. Enjoy! :)
Oh, and I am tempted to tweak the recipe a little bit next time and add some coconut flakes to it.
Update note: I DID make the cookies with coconut (by switching the 2 cups of chocolate chips to 1.5 cups of chocolate chips plus 1 cup coconut flakes), but I didn't really think it made it much better (it was already awesome to begin with...). So would I make these again with coconut? Probably not since I really liked these cookies just as they were. :) If you play around with the chocolate chip/coconut flake ratio and come up with a great combo, let me know by posting below!

Chocolate Chip Cookies 
Makes ~2-3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
2 cups AP flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. 
Using a small ice cream scoop, measure out the cookie dough onto the lined cookie sheets (one cookie = one scoop). Bake, reversing position of cookie sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft and puffy (approximately 11-14 minutes). Do not overbake.
Cool cookies on sheets until able to lift without breaking. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.


Recipe adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Banana and Applesauce Muffin


Hello everyone! Here in our town summer break is officially upon us! School is finally over... I can't believe that my daughter's first (pre?) pre-school year has come and gone! Last August she started school as a very shy two-year old, but now she talks non-stop, chases her little friends around the playground, and can do so much more! It is absolutely amazing to see your children develop so much in such a short amount of time. 
My daughter and my husband at the entrance to the school on her first day.

Now look at her! (and ignore me...) This is on the last day of her school. They have a picnic day for the students and parents to come and play in the playground area during their normal school time. I made the muffins below as one of the treats for the picnic, and brought it along with pretzels sticks and cherry tomatoes. Simple, but it worked well for us :) It was a special mommy-daughter only day too as the babysitter watched our baby boy. 
A little note about these muffins: they were very moist due to the combination of applesauce and oil, and not too overly sweet. I also didn't feel horrible having multiple muffins at once since I used wheat flour (which practically makes it non-caloric, right?) Ha!
Anyways, enjoy your summer with one of these muffins!

Banana and Applesauce Muffin
~makes about 18 muffins


Muffin ingredients:
-1 1/2 cup quick oats
-1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1 tsp baking powder
-3/4 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp nutmeg
-1 cup applesauce
-1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 whole bananas)
-1/2 cup whole milk
-3 Tbsp canola oil
-1 egg
-1/2 cup brown sugar


Topping ingredients:
-1/2 cup quick oats
-2 Tbsp brown sugar
-1/4 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 tsp cloves
-2 Tbsp butter, melted
-1/3 cup chopped pecans


Directions:
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 18 muffin cups in a muffin pan.
In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg. Set aside.
In a large measuring cup, mix together applesauce, banana, milk, brown sugar, oil, and egg. 
For the topping, in a small bowl, melt the butter, and add the other ingredients for the toppings. Set aside.
Returning to the muffin batter, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mix until combined.
Fill each muffin cup 3/4 of the way full. Sprinkle topping over muffins (about 1 tsp over each muffin). Bake in preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.


Recipe adapted from Cooks.com

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Chocolate cupcake with an AMAZING vanilla frosting!


Hello everyone! We are finally in May, the month of graduations and celebrations! My wonderful nanny/babysitter's son is graduating from college today! She mentions how time has absolutely flown by... I probably will blink and be going to my own children's graduations soon (I don't know if I am ready for that yet...) 
To mark such a special occasion, I thought I'd make him a cupcake treat. I asked his mom what he would like, and she said: vanilla or chocolate (he is not an adventurous eater!). Well, I had been dying to have an excuse to make this intriguing frosting recipe I saw on Pinterest. Why is it intriguing, you ask? You use FLOUR in the frosting! AND you cook it! I was skeptical at first, and I had a backup plan just in case it didn't turn out well. But, I did follow through with it since the source of the recipe I saw is none other than Ree Drummond! Oh, for step-by-step picture directions on how to make the frosting (if you like that sort of thing like me...), go to this link
Now, I did already have a favorite chocolate cake recipe, but figured I'd also try Ree's chocolate cake recipe that I keep seeing pop up around the internet. Plus, when I saw her make this cake on her FoodNetwork show, I had to borrow one of my children's bibs for all my drooling! If you are a visual learner like me, I recommend you check out the link for the chocolate cake to see all her amazing pictures.
And, for my "garnish": a graduation cap idea from Skip To My Lou made of miniature Reese's cups, upside-down Ghirardelli chocolate squares, brown miniature M&M's, and melted white chocolate for the tassel. Also saw this idea on Pinterest (can you tell I'm on there a lot???)
Hope you enjoy these Jacob! Congratulations on all your accomplishments!


Ree's Chocolate Cupcakes
~makes 24 cupcakes~
Cupcake ingredients:
-2 cups AP flour
-2 cups sugar
-1/4 tsp salt
-4 Tbsp (heaping) cocoa powder
-1 cup (2 sticks) butter
-1 cup boiling water
-1/2 cup buttermilk
-2 large eggs
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp vanilla extract



Cupcake directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare muffin pans with 24 cupcake liners; set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt; set aside. In a small saucepan, melt butter. Once melted, add cocoa powder and stir well together. Add boiling water, then allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds; turn off heat. Pour over flour mixture and stir lightly to cool.
In a measuring cup (I used a 2-cup measuring cup), add the buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Using a fork mix all ingredients well. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the butter/chocolate mixture. Pour into each cupcake liner about 2/3 of the way full and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Once baked, allow cupcakes to cool on wire racks before adding the frosting.




Awesome Frosting


Frosting ingredients:
-5 Tbsp AP flour
-1 cup milk
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 cup butter (2 sticks), lightly softened
-1 cup granulated white sugar (not powdered sugar)



Frosting directions:
In a small saucepan, whisk flour into milk and heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. Be careful not to burn it. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. You can place the saucepan over ice in the sink for about 10 minutes or so until the mixture cools if you are in a hurry. Stir in vanilla. This mixture must be completely cooled in order for the frosting to work.
While the mixture is cooling, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Then add the cooled milk/flour/vanilla mixture and beat until it all combines and resembles whipped cream. Make sure you scrape down the sides every so often so that it all gets incorporated and whipped. If it's not looking like whipped cream, keep on whipping. This frosting is great for piping. Best served the same day.


-Chocolate Cupcake recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
-Frosting recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything, originally from Tasty Kitchen
-Graduation cap decoration idea from Skip To My Lou