Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dear Readers

I know you are out there, somewhere. I can see how many clicks I get on my page each day (not including my own). While I love that I have secret readers out there, seeing no comments on my posts is a little discouraging. It doesn't matter what you write, I love all and any comments! Let's be friends ok? I'll bake you something real nice.

I promise.


gossip..err I mean Brooke

Monday, May 30, 2011

10 Life Lessons I've learned from Baking

1.) Not to be overly confident: Just when you feel super confident in the kitchen all the sudden your regular go to recipe that always works out flops, it is humbling. It puts you in your place and reminds you that everything does not come so easy.

2.) It's the small things in life that make it worth while: Something as small as a cookie or a brownie from the heart really make a difference.

3.) It's okay to make mistakes: I have had many failed baking attempts that resulted with me, on the floor, crying with batter all over my face. Not everything is always perfect, I shouldn't expect every recipe or life choice to turn out exactly as planned.

4.)Chocolate can solve most problems: While I don't know if chocolate can solve issues in the middle east, it can definitely solve many of your problems. Broken heart? Celebration? Had a bad day? The answer to your problems is always chocolate

5.)Have fun: It's easy to get caught up in a recipe and measuring and taking charge in the kitchen but when you just let go and just decide to have fun it makes things a lot easier.

6.) Don't take life so seriously: Making some wacky combinations can turn out amazing while others can fall pretty short but in the end its just a cookie or cake not the end of the world.

7.) If you don't succeed try try again: That pavolva didn't rise like it was suppose to? Take your chances and make it again, you might be surprised.

8.) It's ok to ask for help: I have been known to stake out my territory in the kitchen and take charge. I know things turn out when I do them but in the end its not about doing it all myself its about being together and sharing in the task. You don't have to do it all by yourself.

9.) The recipes you create yourself are always best...ok so I stole this line from a movie but its so true.

10.)Everything's better with butter

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Girls Night Goodies

This past weekend I was back in PA to see my lovely lady friends Shannon, Adrienne and Amanda. This picture is the most tame one of the night! Nothing like giving a couple of girls some cocktails after a long week and after not seeing each other for a couple months.

Obviously we all awoke with headaches the next day I am sure. I know I did.

Like I've said before, I have a hard time coming to a little shindig empty handed, for example the alcohol we consumed..sorry girls. Wait no I am not! Aside from the alcohol I baked up a little treat involving sugar cookie dough, chocolate and raspberry jam.

I have made these sugar cookies raspberry bars before but adding chocolate into the mix was totally inspired by a conversation I had with Shannon a couple weeks back about some raspberry chocolate crumb bars she made. Thanks for the idea Shan! It really took these bars to a new level.

Two layers of soft sugar cookie with raspberry jam nestled in between. Mmmmmmmmm

I realize I may have a bit of an obsession with raspberry jams and jellies. I confess, I don't really branch out when it comes to other fruit preserves. How can I when raspberries are the perfect balance of tart and sweet?

Ok dramatic raspberry obsession aside, you can really use any jam or jelly type you'd like in this. Skies the limit.

Maybe I'll go crazy and make it with black raspberry jam next time. What? Baby steps people.

Generously topped with chocolate.


Everyone enjoyed one of these decadent bars. They were soft, chewy, sweet and chocolatey, all my favorite things.

You know you want one.

Chocolate Raspberry Bars:

Sugar cookie dough

3/4 cup Raspberry Jam

1 cup chocolate chips


Press 1/2 prepared sugar cookie dough into a 9 X 13 pan and bake in 350 degree for 15-20 minutes or until slightly browned.

Take out of oven and spread raspberry jam evenly on the sugar cookie dough. Place remaining sugar cookie dough in little globs all over the top of the jam. Don't worry the cookie dough will spread and cover the jam. Bake again for 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Let cool. While cooling melt the chocolate chips in the microwave or over a double boiler and spread evenly over the top layer of cookie dough. Let the pan cool. Refrigerate until the top layer of chocolate is hardened.

Cut into squares and enjoy.

We sure did.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Things you don't know about me IV

I can fold my tongue into a three leaf clover

Bracelets are my jewelry of choice

This year was the first year in many that I didn't run the Race for a Cure in Philaldelphia on Mother's Day

My favorite breakfast food is French Toast

I'm pretty darn stubborn, I like to think of it as strong willed

I really want to start making yeast breads, souffles and cheesecakes but they scare me

Tomatoes are my favorite vegetable. I still call it a vegetable, always will

I use the word "clearly" a lot

I love all artwork by Henri Matisse

I'm totally feeding into the whole frozen yogurt craze.....I love it and I don't care if that makes me a follower

I tend to dance in the mirror when no ones looking

I have blue eyes

No matter how hard I try, after grocery shopping, something is always open and half eaten before I even make it back to my apartment

I love making lists and crossing things off

I love coffee but I never seem to finish an entire cup

I am really strange about my tooth brush, it can't be near anyone else's, no matter how close I am to them and it must be cleaned thoroughly after every use. I even keep it/store it in a travel case everyday...bizarre I know

Thursday, May 19, 2011

You scream, I scream, We all scream Banana's

I love frozen yogurt. I hope this foodie craze sticks around. Pinkberry, FroZenYo, Mr. Yogato, Yogen Fruz, Red Mango or Sweet Green, I don't care what its called or where its from I l-o-v-e it!

I love the tangy and tartness of the yogurt and the toppings just make it even better.

Don't mind if I have some chocolate and raspberries on my healthful dessert. It's frozen yogurt so I have some wiggle room for chocolate. Thats my story and I'm sticking to it.

Unfortunately, I do not have a frozen yogurt dispenser in my apartment, sad I know. It would be so nice to have it on hand whenever a craving strikes. But I do have a mini solution.

Banana Soft Serve!

This stuff has taken the blog world by storm and rightfully so. Gena at Choosing Raw blogged this recipe in 2009 and titled the post "This post will change your life", oh and how it has! This is a raw, vegan, dairy free version of ice cream.

Jeans not fitting like you'd like? But you still love ice cream and would like to feel guilt free about it? No problem.

The only ingredient is frozen bananas. Done and done.

Chop up bananas and freeze.

In food processor add the bananas and blend for 2-3 minutes. The frozen bananas will get all fluffy and airy. Like this! Can you believe these are just bananas?

I topped mine with chocolate chips but the possibilities are endless. Melted peanut butter, caramel, candy pieces, and or berries. I mean really your getting your potassium for the day so why not add a little something something on top.

If you have bananas and a food processor, you should make this now.

And even if you don't really love bananas, like me, you'll probably fall in love with this stuff.

Banana Soft Serve

~from Choosing Raw

Frozen bananas


Add slightly thawed bananas to food processor. Sorry folks a blender will not work for this recipe, strictly a food processors job.

Mix bananas for 2-3 minutes until light, fluffy and resembling soft serve.

I kid you not, this Sh*t is B-A-N-A-N-A-S so you should definitely try it...now!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fresh Farmer's Market

The great thing about living in DC is that all spring long there are farmer's markets all over the city with great fresh organic produce, breads, honey, cheese, and olive oil. Every Saturday and Sunday roads are blocked off in different parts of the city and local farmers set up shop.

I got up early on Sunday to go to the Takoma Park farmer's market. I was a terrible food blogger because I remembered to bring my camera but alas there was no memory card inside and thus I have no pictures of the actual market. There were so many great things to choose from.

But here is what I got:

A baby eggplant, a bag of fresh spinach, 2 tomatoes, a seedless cucumber and a pint of strawberries.

It hard to shop for produce for one. More likely than not something will go bad before you even get to it. I would have liked to try many more things but I knew they wouldn't last so I was smart about my purchases.

I have done a lot of heavy recipes lately. Heavy as in chocolate and butter and cream, so in other words all the good stuff. But now it's time to lighten it up a bit. Strawberries seemed like the perfect place to start.

And since I have a big bag of oat bran sitting around from making these granola bars awhile back I thought some oat bran muffins were the perfect thing.

I've actually never baked with strawberries. I have put them on top of cupcakes, tarts etc. but never baked them. Theres a first time for everything and what a great first time.

I chopped up the cute little strawberries and mixed them in the batter.

Once in the muffin tins I topped each muffin with some brown sugar and baked for all of 15 minutes.

I was pleasantly surprised by the baked strawberries. They were only slightly sweet but lent great flavor to the muffins. And the oat bran added a nutty hearty flavor which makes you feel heathy when eating them.

These are perfect for a quick breakfast or snack.

Strawberry Oat Bran Muffins:

1 1/3 Cup flour

3/4 cup oat bran

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 cup oil

2 tablespoons agave syrup

brown sugar for topping


In a bowl mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and oat bran.

In another bowl mix egg, milk, oil and agave

Pour wet mixture into the flour bowl. Add chopped strawberries and mix only until lumpy and mostly combined.

Do not over mix, the muffins will turn out tough. I know this from experience, no one likes a tough rubbery muffin.

Spray muffin tins and fill 2/3 the way with batter. Top each muffin with a sprinkling of brown sugar.

Bake for 15-20 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

And if you're like me and want to turn your healthy muffin into a bonafide dessert drizzle with powdered sugar icing or even add chocolate chips to the recipe!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Holy Paula Dean

Sammy and I met our freshman year at James Madison University. We were suite mates, both with roommates named Caitlin and we were both from Pennsylvania (only 45 minutes away from each other). We became friends right away and later granted the nickname "Brammy" because we were always together.

We later roomed together sophmore year on campus and then 2 more years in an apartment off campus. And now we have both moved to the DC metro area.

Sammy lives in Alexandria with her boyfriend while I am in Silver Spring, which might as well be light years with DC traffic. We both have very different work schedules so seeing each other isn't always the easiest thing. So finally after 2 months or so we actually hung out.

With a reunion like this I couldn't go empty handed. Oh no, how rude would that be? So I came with arms full of goodies.

A large bottle of white wine of course and a chocolate gooey butter cake.

They seem pretty happy, can you tell?

Even Callie wanted one

During college Sammy told me her favorite cake was butter cake. I had no clue what this was so like any good detective I googled it. What came up you ask? None other than Paula Dean and her many recipes of butter laden cakes. I attemped to make said butter cake and well, it turned out a lot like a really dense cheesecake bar, good but not a real butter cake.

So I decided to try again and redeem myself with this butter filled treat. It should look like uncooked blondies or brownies. Gooey in the middle and slightly firm on top.

Did I mention the word try? Clearly butter cake and I seem to have some miscommunication problems. I started out the recipe with no problem and then misread 1/4 cup milk for 3/4 cup....needless to say it was quite a gooey crust instead of crumbly one. As panic struck, I added more flour to "even it out", and if you bake you know this is a terrible idea, this doesn't work, ever. It was a lost cause, I would either have to start over or accept defeat....Never!

So after crying like a 5 year old on the kitchen floor for 15 minutes and making a mess of the kitchen I threw away the gooey product and started over.

Armed with Butter

This time it went much more smoothly. I was determined to conquer this butter cake. Seriously the recipe is not complicated.

Press the crust in a pan

Top with the filling

Baked and cooled

They definitely need to cool for a good hour before cutting. The word gooey in the titled isn't for nothing. These were a challenge to cut into bars because of how gooey they are. But the more I let them cool the easier it got. Patience isn't one of my virtues.

And since I had a bottle of Bailey's sitting around I whipped up a Bailey's glaze to put on top of the butter cake. I have noticed I seem to be going through a phase with glazes, I've put one on most of the things I've baked recently. I like this phase.

Chocolate Gooey Butter Cake:

~Adapted from The Pioneer Woman


2 1/2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 cup milk

1 egg

I stick of melted butter

In a bowl mix flour, sugar and baking powder. Add the egg and melted butter and beat until a dough starts to form. Add the 1/4 cup milk until together and crumbly.

Press into a 9X13 ungreased pan and set aside


8oz of cream cheese

1 stick melted butter

2 eggs

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 3/4 cups confectioners sugar

In a bowl beat the cream cheese until soft. Add one egg at a time until creamy. Add melted butter and vanilla extract until the mixture appears slightly thicker. Then add cocoa powder and confectioners sugar 1 cup at a time. Once all combined, pour over crust and spread with a spatula.

Bake for 40-45 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

See? Really not that complicated.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Brownies that Could Mend a Broken Heart

Chocolate is one of those amazing foods that can transform any situation. If you're having a bad day chocolate can raise your spirits, if you're happy, you use chocolate to celebrate, if you're watching what you eat, chocolate is an indulgent reward, and if you have a broken heart chocolate can help numb the pain.

One taste of it and the world slips away. Melt in your mouth ecstacy.

If you really think about it chocolate is a pretty powerful food. It can pretty much fix anything in the temporary.

Last night I decided to whip up some seriously powerful brownies. These bad boys could maybe even temporarily solve issues in the Middle East. (Okay maybe a bit over the top but you get the point)

Chocolate chip peanut butter brownies with a peanut butter glaze and chocolate chips on top.

Yes, I went there. I even used a box brownie mix (gasp!). Quick and dirty, I know.

If you've read my take on brownies you know that I actually endorse boxed mixes. I am a from scratch kinda girl, I tend to think things just taste better that way but brownies are a different story. Brownie mix is just as good as scratch to me and maybe even better. So if you're feeling kind of dirty for using box mix, have no fear I encourage dirty.

I mixed in chocolate chips and creamy peanut butter. Baked until gooey and fudge like and topped with sweet oozy peanut butter glaze and mini chips.

It's safe to say these brownies probably have magical powers. Powers beyond belief.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Brownies with Peanut Butter Gaze:

Brownie recipe


Boxed Brownie mix

1 Cup semi-sweet chocoalte chips

1 Cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 Cup peanut butter


Make brownie batter and add 1 cup regular sized chocolate chips.

Bake in 13X9 pan in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes

Let cool


1/2 cup melted peanut butter

3/4 cup confectioners sugar

4 Tablespoons milk or water


In a bowl melt the peanut butter in the microwave. Once melted mix with confectioners sugar and milk/water until smooth and a drippy (very technical term) consistancy.

Spread over the top of brownies and top with 1 cup mini chocolate chips.

Try these ASAP! I mean if these can fix something like a broken heart then you know they're capable of some great things.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Passport to the EU

This weekend in DC was the EU Embassies open house. All countries part of the European Union opened their doors to the public with food and goodies.

Since I have no money to actually travel abroad at the moment this was the closest I was going to get to Europe without evening leaving DC.

It was really crowded, I mean lets be honest, free food, transportation and trinkets naturally brought people out of the woodwork. But despite the mass of people I was quite the "world traveler" on Saturday. I managed to go to 6 countries including Estonia, Romania, Greece, Lavtia, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

The Embassy of The Netherlands was beautiful inside and out.

And Greece had quite the line, we waited for probably 30-45 mintues to get in there. All I could think of was stuffed grape leaves that I would walk out with. And of course they were out when we got there.

But they had dancers

And a strange anise flavored soda that I couldn't quite get into.

But they did have Greek yogurt with apricot preserves which was the best yogurt I have ever had in my life. It was worth waiting in line just for that tiny little cup of the nectar of the Gods.

I believe it was Latvia that had this little treat waiting for us. Dried cured fish of some sort. We bravely tried it and it tasted quite fishy as expected. Not good or bad just fishy.

The United Kingdom gave out reusable flag bags and whiskey. Can't you tell he was pretty excited about all this?

The United Kingdom Embassy was beautiful. Literally I want to live there. Large brick bulding with big shutters and breath taking gardens...sigh.

Oh and didn't you know I was invited to the royal wedding? Kate and Will's are my BFF's. I even had a picture taken of us at the wedding together. This one needs to be framed.

We even got a little passport to get stamped at all the places we visited "just as if we were really in Europe" minus all the pesky customs and baggage issues.

Okay, so maybe it was nothing like traveling abroad but hey it was a mini taste of what the countries have to offer and a unique look into the embassies of the European Union. I would have loved to go to all of them but alas they were spread out all over the city and the lines were massive.

I guess it just means I will have to actually go to the countries I missed, there are quite a few!
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