Monday, May 27, 2013

Katharine Hepburn Brownies

It has been a sweet holiday weekend, indeed.

First off, we had a very special visit from my brother and his very sweet fiance (who will be my sister in less than two weeks!).  It was brief but it's always nice to have visitors, especially when it involves my lovely family.  Next up, we stopped in a Nestle Toll House Cafe after lunch on Sunday.  I pointed at their peanut butter chocolate chip cookie but we both know I make a mean PBCC version at the bakery and no one can top mine (just sayin'), so Nathan opted for the old-fashioned sugar and I chose a pecan chocolate chip. 

Later that night, we decided to make a frozen yogurt run.  Now I'll admitI'm way behind on the fro-yo band wagon and have never done the whole choose-your-flavor(s)-choose-your-topping(s) thing until the other night.  While it was a little pricey (we decided we would never take a family of five, should we ever have one, and our kids will be splitting a couple of price-matched pints from WalMart, thankyouverymuch), it was fun and absolutely delicious!  Nathan dished up some vanilla with kiwi, bananas, and strawberries (so not my style), while I went a little sugar-overboard and doubled-up with both the white chocolate mouse and salted caramel flavors topped with cookie dough chunks, flaked coconut, and sprinkles (so my style). 

In the midst of all this weekend sweetness, we ate through these super-sweet brownies.  The gooiest brownie I've ever had.  Made in part from the mere quarter cup of flour.  I mean this is practically a flourless brownie with loads of crunchy walnuts.  Sweet.

ps did anyone think of this while reading the words Nestle Toll House?  Or was it just me?
pss if you're curious as to the name of these brownies, check out this source!

Katharine Hepburn Brownies

Makes one 8x8-inch pan

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8x8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray; set aside.

Place the butter and chopped chocolate in a medium bowl and microwave for 30 seconds; stir, microwave for 30 seconds more.  If chocolate and butter have not completely melted, continue process until melted and blended.

Whisk in the sugar, then whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour, salt and chopped walnuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, smoothing it into an even layer. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Place the pan on a wire rack and allow to cool completely before cutting into squares.

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

(Sweet and Salty) Peanut Butterscotch Krispie Bars

An oldie but goodie.

Old as in I first found this recipe when I was in middle school (circa 1999/"...Baby One More Time"/"Mambo No. 5" era).  Good as in...well...they're really, really good. 

I have absolutely loved to bake for as long as I can remember (and I have a serious sweet tooth to boot!).  When I was first starting to dabble in the world of  chocolate and cookies, my Grandma Min gave me a little recipe box in the shape of an oven and made of cross-stitched plastic canvas (along the lines of this!) and I've kept that little box ever since, using it to hold the recipes I tore out of my mom's monthly Bon Appetit and Southern Living catalogs and cut off the sides of various cereal boxes during my teen years.  

So on a recent afternoon I came across this Kellogg's notecard as I was thumbing through the cabinet that holds my cookbooks and that crafty little oven.  It didn't call for the sweet and salty snack mix, of course, but we had a bag in the pantry so I threw some in.  It was a smart addition too, adding various bits of crunch from mini cookies and chopped peanuts and occasional pieces of candy-coated chocolate.  Feel free to leave the mix out though, or you can opt to toss in one of Kellogg's '99 suggested add-ins*. 

*These were available in stores in '99 and are still available today.  Kellogg's suggests to add one of the following with the cereal: 1/2 cup mini marshmallows, 1 cup peanuts, 1 cup raisins, or 1 cup coconut.

I suggest you do it up Ricky Martin style by livin' la vida loca and toss in a bit of each.  

(Sweet and Salty) Peanut Butterscotch Krispie Bars

Makes one 8x8-inch pan

1 cup butterscotch morsels
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 cups rice krispies
2/3 cup M&M Sweet and Salty Snack mix (optional)

In 3-quart saucepan, combine butterscotch morsels and peanut butter.  Cook over low heat, stirring constantly (you must stir constantly otherwise it will burn!), until smooth.  Remove from heat.  Stir in rice krispies, mixing until well combined.  Fold in snack mix, if using.

Press mixture into a lightly greased 8x8-inch pan.  Let sit for an hour or until firm before cutting into squares.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mini Lemon(ade) Muffins

Spring has arrived.

I think it's safe to say we're finally in the clear of any reappearance of old man winter (he was stubborn this year!!)  I'm in love with this time of year: open windows, green lawns, blooming flowers.  Jackets get tucked away, shorts replace sweaters on closet shelves, "Boy Meets Grill" gets pulled from the kitchen cabinet, late night ice cream runs get made.

Mango salsa starts to sound good again, homemade salsa in general starts to sound good again (when doesn't it though, really?), even a fresh, crisp salad begins to tempt me (ok, I'm not one to order salad when dining out, but Panera's BBQ Chopped Chicken Salad could make me a convert).

Today I want to spread a little springtime lovin' with these little lemon muffins.  With just the right amount of citrus, and a super moist crumb, they are probably the best muffin I've ever put in my mouth.  Consider this my love muffin.

Mini Lemon(ade) Muffins

Makes approximately 36 mini muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon lemon rind (about half a lemon)
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tablespoon lemon juice (about half a lemon)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk

Prepare 36 mini muffin tins with liners or spray with cooking spray.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, lemon rind, and sugar.

In a separate, small bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, lemon juice, vanilla, and milk.  Slowly add the oil mixture with the mixer on low speed until blended and smooth.

Fill each muffin cup about two-thirds full and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden and center of muffin springs back with lightly pressed. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Chicken Fajita Mac and Cheese

Remember that righteous mac and cheese from January?

[see this video-- at 3:30]

Well Nathan happened to request it this weekend [and I responded a lot like Monica at 3:43], but I decided to kick it up mexican style in honor of Cinco de Mayo.  Lucky for us, this version didn't end in wicker shoes and the Psycho theme song.  Instead, we got cheesy shells with a fajita flare. 

Think noodles tossed with onions, bell pepper, chicken, green chiles, cumin, paprika, pepper jack, and sour cream.  If that doesn't scream the Fifth of May, I don't know what does.  So lose the tortilla and pull out a bowl because mac and cheese just got loco!


Chicken Fajita Mac and Cheese

Serves 4

6 ounces pasta shapes, such as shells
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 (7 ounce) can diced green chiles
1 cup cooked, chopped chicken
1/4 cup sour cream
3 ounces shredded (or finely diced) sharp cheddar cheese*
3 ounces shredded (or finely diced) pepper jack cheese*

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Cook pasta according to the package directions just until al dente.  Drain well and keep warm.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in another large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, red bell, and salt and pepper and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Mix in the garlic, and saute 1 minute more.  Stir in the cumin, paprika, and green chilies.  Toss to coat and heated through.  Remove from heat and add the chicken, sour cream, hot pasta, and cheeses.  Mix until well combined. 

Transfer to a lightly greased 7x11-inch baking dish (8x8 is good too! or I opted for four of my Le Creuset Soup Bowls).  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes until slightly browned and bubbling.  Let cool briefly before serving.

*For the cheeses involved in the recipe I head to the grocery deli.  They will kindly slice you the ounce amount you need (in a quality brand nonetheless!), which means it's already measured come cooking time and no waste!!

Adapted from Annie's Eats.