Tag Archives: Sweet

Lauren: Linda’s Lemon Drizzle Cake

lemoncakewhole

I couldn’t cut into this cake because it was a gift, but look at the photo below to see the bright yellow interior.

Who likes Costco? MEMEME!!! Well sort of. Walking through the aisles and sneaking all sorts of delicious samples and Lululemon-esque yoga pants for $25 is great. But who needs a year’s supply of fruit snacks (my mother)? Or Cheerios (won’t they go stale?) Or lemons? Buying produce or dairy in bulk makes no sense to me unless you’re throwing a party. But that didn’t stop my mom from buying a bag containing enough lemons to last Martha a month (and that’s saying a lot).

I assumed this bag of lemons would simply waste away into little white shrivels since we’d never use that many before they went bad, but I was wrong. So wrong. In fact I personally used up the entire contents in three days. And it was all because of a recipe I found in a magazine.

While I’m not sure that I’ve ever read an issue of Town & Country, the April 2013 cover featured Allison Williams and, as the huge “Girls” fan that I am, that was that. Next thing I knew I’d paid for it, read the issue, and was zesting six lemons in the kitchen at 10 p.m.

The recipe is called Linda’s Lemon Drizzle Cake but I’ve renamed it the Lemony Snicket Cake because you can’t say the word lemony without me thinking of my beloved Mr. Snicket (and I’m not kidding, I was OBSESSED with these books and in fifth grade dressed as Violet Baudelaire for Halloween).

The cake is really easy to make, is doused in the most deliciously sweet-tart glaze EVER, and makes your kitchen smell like a dream. Even my niece was into it. What you don’t see: how she then reached out to grab some and had to be restrained. Not unlike me…

Anyway, are you ready for this recipe? Here we go!

Linda’s Lemon Drizzle Cake (or the Lemony Snicket Cake)—slightly adapted from the April 2013 issue of Town & Country magazine

Serves 6 (which means you get a rather large slice, SCORE!)

Ingredients:

  • Flour for dusting the pan
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 3/4 cup superfine (granulated) sugar
  • 2 large free-range eggs, beaten
  • finely grated zest and juice of 3 lemons
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose or light spelt flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
  • a toothpick

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and butter and flour a 9-inch nonstick loaf pan.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, cream the butter and superfine sugar together with an electric mixer. Gradually beat in the eggs and mix until light and fluffy. Stir in the lemon zest, flour, and baking powder, and mix well. Add 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice and mix well again. Then beat in the milk.
  3. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, mix the remaining lemon juice and the confectioner’s sugar together in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, preferably one with a pour spout, to make the glaze.
  5. When it’s ready, take the cake out of the oven and cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Then turn it out onto a plate WITH A LIP/RIM. Otherwise the glaze will run off of the plate and all over the countertop, floor, etc. Pierce the top of the cake all over with a thin skewer/toothpick. Spoon/pour the lemon glaze carefully and evenly all over the cake until all of it is absorbed. It may look as though your cake is sitting in a puddle but give it a few hours and it’ll soak up all of that sweet and tart glaze.
  6. EAT!!!

Lemons are bright and sour and, essentially summer in fruit form. If you too like citrusy, not-too-sweet desserts that can be eaten at any time of day, then please, go to Costco and buy yourself an economy sized bag of lemons to make this cake. I promise, this is all you’ll have left:

The first cake that I made for my family, one day after I baked it.

The first cake that I made for my family, one day after I baked it.

Lemony Snicket Cake would also make a delightful Mother’s Day breakfast, not unlike these Valrhona Dark Chocolate and Orange Buttermilk Scones. Just saying.

Until next time, happy Mother’s Day!

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Lauren: Cornbread four ways

From left to right: Joy the Baker's cornbread, grandma's buttermilk cornbread, Martha Stewart's buttermilk cornbread

From left to right: Joy the Baker’s cornbread, grandma’s buttermilk cornbread, Martha Stewart’s buttermilk cornbread

No, that’s not a typo. I did spend last weekend making four kinds of cornbread, the first one just wasn’t good enough to be photographed. The recipe requirements for this trial were that what I made needed to be cornbread, include buttermilk, and preferably, not be sweet. Let’s just say I changed my tune as the baking went on. And on and on and on.

The impulse struck on Friday when I could no longer resist the siren song of Matthew Amster-Burton’s recipe from Spilled Milk. I wasn’t in the mood for any sticky, gluey, muffin-like corn business and it was an exciting prospect to, for the first time, try a true, totally-savory, Southern-style cornbread with absolutely zero sugar or flour. The recipe called for an 8 in. skillet and silly me, I thought the fact that mine was about 10 in. wouldn’t matter. Yeah, no. Instead of thick and substantial, the finished product was thin, about a centimeter tall—more of a corn cracker than bread—and extremely bitter. Straight into the trash it went, sans photo. One plus for the recipe: you preheat the skillet (with oil in it) in the preheating oven, and when you pour the batter into the skillet it sizzles and starts cooking IMMEDIATELY. Not shocking. Nonetheless, my inner second grader found it exciting to behold.

Up next, the second trial and the palest of the bunch: Martha Stewart’s buttermilk cornbread. While better than contender one, due to the addition of 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 cup of flour, this bread was still pretty dry and not something I’d repeat after discovering breads three and four.

For the third recipe I trusted my first instincts, ignored up until that point, and went with the classic, moist and just-sweet-enough, grandma’s buttermilk cornbread from allrecipes.com which has an impressive 3,305 reviews, most of which are five-star. It was quite good, looked and tasted like the iconic cornbread with its golden color, and was the closest to the cornbread of my dreams I’ve found yet. We polished off about half the recipe. They’re especially delightful with butter.

Joy the Baker’s brown butter rosemary orange cornbread was the gold medalist of the Cornbread Taste Test of 2013. Fourth time was a charm (and my second time making this recipe) and only the three pieces in this photo avoided consumption (as in being eaten, not getting TB) and that was only because I hid them for photo purposes. The difference, and probably unfair advantage of this recipe? The additions of 1/3 cup of sugar, orange juice, orange zest, fresh rosemary, and browned butter which make this baby a star. The other secret: using instant polenta instead of cornmeal! The polenta I used was much finer and easier to chew than the cornmeal in the other three recipes.

From top to bottom: Joy the Baker's cornbread, grandma's buttermilk cornbread, Martha Stewart's buttermilk cornbread

From top to bottom: Joy the Baker’s cornbread, grandma’s buttermilk cornbread, Martha Stewart’s buttermilk cornbread

Well, I’m over cornbread now for at least the next year, so until next week I’m going to roll to bed. Enjoy your heat wave/ice storm/snow/tornado, and have a great weekend!

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Caro: Chocolate Raspberry Truffles

***Sigh. I disappeared again 😦 …

I don’t want it to be this way. But something about working 11-hour days at the office and trying to make the most of Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays with people I will only be with for a few more weeks robs me of both my time and my motivation to cook/bake, clean up, photograph, write… but I’m trying, really. The kind of funny part is that I’ve kept up with the creating and “photographing” (with Camera+ on my iPhone, as I may or may not have misplaced my parents’ fancy D-SLR…) for every single week, but then I realize I have yet to edit the pictures (for whatever that’s worth) and I have yet to write the post, and, well, it just doesn’t feel like there’s enough time. I know, I know, people juggle a lot more than what I have on my plate… but I’ve never been known for my time management skills, and somehow the hours escape me. “I’ll do it tonight” becomes “I’ll do it tomorrow” becomes “I’ll have more time for this over the weekend” becomes a fridge full of food that has yet to be shared with the world via our little corner of the internet.

But anyway. All that rambling to let you know that I’m still alive, and I’m still cooking and baking, and hopefully there’ll be a lot more of me around here as my Tampa adventures wind down.

And, if it helps make up for my absence at all, today I bring you chocolate. (Yay!)***

Are you a fan of the combination of chocolate and raspberry? Truth be told, I used to hate it. HATED every raspberry-flavored thing I tried for years and years, so I eventually stopped trying raspberry-flavored things. Raspberry and I spent years apart before we were fatefully reunited one day…

(*Cue flashback initiation sequence*)

Lauren and I were lucky enough to go to pretty much a “foodie” university. Our dining halls had Indian, Mexican, Chinese, comfort, etc. food stations, and all the food was way awesome. But despite all this variety, my favorite part of the Wash. U. dining experience was the dessert case in the cafe (no surprise there!) that came as part of the new construction that went down while we were students. I would walk by it every single day just to see if there was anything I needed to try. Lauren and I spent so many nights with three desserts spread across a table, taking bites of and judging each one.

And one day, I spotted this slice of a chocolate pound-cake/loaf kind of deal that I HAD to have. It looked impossibly moist and just totally irresistible. So I bought a slice, duh, (maybe two…), and ventured home, nestled into bed, took a bite.

Well, it was so super amazing, obviously. I kept thinking it was chocolate and something else, and I couldn’t even pin down what the other flavor was… until my fork hit a little pocket of jam. I tried the jam alone, and that’s when it hit me. Raspberry! And chocolate! Chocolate raspberry, and I loved it. Converted!!!

And so, when I was thinking of what to make for Valentine’s week, chocolate raspberry something was a no-brainer. I settled on truffles pretty quickly, since I’ve always wanted to make them and spending $10/mall visit on Godiva truffles was really putting a dent in my budget, considering how often I go to the mall.

chocolate raspberry truffles

Ok. Here’s the thing. These were AWESOME. So, so awesome. So very wonderful, in fact, that my friend would not believe me when I told him I made them. (As if the fact that I offered them to him in a Tupperware container wasn’t enough of a hint…) So, they’re probably almost as good as the best truffles you’ve ever had unless you live in Belgium or something. Maybe.

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BUT… they are a LOT of work. At least they were for me. First they were too soft to roll into little truffle-y shapes, so I refrigerated the chocolate blob for an extra hour… which led it to harden to a rock-like consistency, which made it impossible to scoop any shapes out at all. So I ended up microwaving that blob until it was manageable… and then I used a knife to, in ruthless caveman-like fashion, carve out chunks of chocolate, which I then had to let sit and soften until they could be rolled into truffles, which I then had to freeze. AHH! So much temperature particularity to make these handle-able! It was a little too much for me.

So as good as they were, I probably won’t be making them again soon. The value of a recipe like this, though, is that you can adapt it any of nine billion ways… so next time some crazy chocolate combo pops into my head, I might whip up a batch of these just to say I made my own peanut butter potato chip truffles or white chocolate strawberry basil truffles or something. You know? Yep.

Anyway. Try these if you need a kitchen project to keep you busy! Maybe you’ll have more luck than I did at making the whole process manageable… but in any case, you’ll end up with perfect truffles, or goofy-looking little chocolate blobs, or a bowl of raspberry-infused dark chocolate goodness. Win, win, win!

Click here for the recipe!

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Lauren: Almond Butter Cup Smoothie

smoothieSometimes you want to spend an hour washing kale leaves for a salad and other times you just want to throw a bunch of stuff in a blender and press liquify. Almonds as this week’s pick allow me this opportunity to rest on my laurels.

You should know that in addition to my temporary sloth, I’m a little odd. I’m one of those people who actually prefers cold things to hot—even in sub-zero conditions. Soup for your cold? Nah, I’ll take ice cream. Oh, it’s -4 outside? Let’s make sno-cones. And for post-workout mid-blizzard munchies? An almond smoothie. It might feel like a brick in your stomach but it’s the best kind of brick. It actually solves the winter “I-can’t-stay-full” predicament and that is reason enough for a prize.

This smoothie, originally from Daniel Sage at Juice Press in New York, has been a fixture in my repertoire for the past few weeks and it is finally time to debut it to you, our lovely readers. While it may not be the prettiest smoothie ever, it sure is tasty, and did I mention it has no added sugar? Yep. None. It’s absolutely bursting with protein and the warming cinnamon thrown in doesn’t hurt either, especially during this latest round of snowstorms. Almonds are the shining stars of this recipe and appear in two forms—butter and milk. I have an odd fascination with grinding my own almond butter at The Fresh Market, but any kind will do. That plus unsweetened cocoa powder (this one is fantastic) and a banana and you’re golden. The recipe suggests adding agave nectar but I don’t see a point.

Now I’m going to go back to wearing my comforter around like that’s a thing. Cheers.

Recipe here. And if you have leftover almond butter lying around, may I recommend The Unrefined Kitchen’s almond butter dark chocolate chip cookies? Haven’t tried them but they look lovely.

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Lauren: Valentine’s Day Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

red velvet cheesecake brownieThe day of red and pink is here at last! Valentine’s Day!

A few weeks ago I tested this recipe from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen for red velvet cheesecake brownies and they changed my life. If you decide to plunge into this dreamworld of butter, sugar, chocolate, and cream cheese, then please follow these tips to achieve brownie bliss.

Whichever kind/percentage of chocolate you use (since the recipe simply calls for “dark chocolate,” (wow, thanks for those ultra specific directions), make sure the bar is something you’d be happy to eat in bar form as the chocolate is the star of the recipe. I made these brownies two times, the first with an organic cream cheese and the second with Philadelphia cream cheese. While the organic version looked like a curdled mess in the mixer, it retained more flavor and was a tangier counter to the chocolatey sweetness than the Philly version. The first bars also received rave reviews and Susan, my resident taste-tester, said, “Lauren, these might actually be one of the best things I have ever eaten.” But you know, take your pick.

Note too that these are FUDGY with a capital F. I had to cook them for several extra minutes (around 10) to achieve even the slightly brown edge described in the recipe due to their intense moisture (sorry!). They are totally worth it though and the recipe is low maintenance and comes together in a hurry—two mega pluses. They do well kept in tupperware in the refrigerator once they’ve cooled since they’re topped with cream cheese, but do let them stand at room temperature for around 10 minutes before serving so that you’ll really be able to taste their flavor.

These decadent bars are the perfect dessert for you, or you + others. You know what, these should only be baked in the event that you’ll serve them to a large group of people or else be prepared to eat the whole pan (which I DO NOT RECOMMEND!).

Some other recipes I considered before settling on this one:

Now go bake with your boo(s)/family/friends/furry companion and share the love that is these brownies. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Caro: Banana-Nut Muffins… with Spinach

Umm, you guys… I did something weird. I mean, I do strange things all the time, like put my jeans in the dryer on high heat intentionally, but this was especially strange, even for me.

banana-nut muffins with spinach

Yeah. I put spinach and banana together in a muffin.

In my defense, though, I wasn’t the first or only person to think about doing this. Sometimes, my mind puts together some pretty unusual combinations of ingredients… but, in every case so far, a Google search has proved that someone else has put those ingredients together before in one form or another. So when I Googled “spinach and banana recipes,” I wasn’t surprised (okay, maybe I was, a little bit…) when I found a whole bunch of recipes for muffins containing both the leafy green and the super-sweet fruit.

Why was I Googling spinach and banana in the first place? Hmm. Well, I had big plans for spinach week… I was thinking of fancy frittatas, or spiffed-up-with-spinach grilled cheese sandwiches, or maybe spinach chips (like kale chips, but probably better, since spinach is amazing, and kale, for some reason, kind of freaks me out).

But it’s busy season at work (11- and sometimes 12-hour days!), and I really only have time to make one legit thing each week. And I had bananas on the counter that were seriously on their way out… so I already had plans to make banana nut muffins when spinach week came around. Aaand… I was not about to cancel those plans in favor of some spinach-dominated health food. So instead, I thought, “Is there any way I can put the spinach and banana together, and make something wonderful?”

Enter spinach-speckled banana-nut muffins.

banana-nut muffins with spinach

It’s pretty hard to explain the appeal of these… It’s weird, because I actually liked them, a lot, and I would definitely make them again, but NOT to replace a straight-up banana muffin. Almost every blogger that posted a recipe for spinach and banana muffins had the same claim… “I promise, you won’t taste the spinach! These taste EXACTLY like an indulgent awesome dessert banana muffin!” Well, imma burst some bubbles here: They don’t taste like an indulgent awesome dessert banana muffin. I don’t know if my spinach was especially flavorful, or if perhaps I was a little heavy-handed in my measuring out of said spinach… but I could definitely taste it in the muffin. Funny thing, though, is that I thought that was good!

I’ll apologize for being so bad at describing what the spinach adds to these guys… they just taste like a slightly… greener muffin? Yeah, I don’t know. All I know is they made a yummy breakfast for the four days they lasted. (Relax; there were only six muffins in the batch.)

Oh, and to burst one more bubble: Don’t make these thinking they’re “healthy” ’cause they have spinach in them… at least not as I made them. Really, they’re just muffins… normal, sugar-laden, sweet, and dense muffins. Everyone’s all like, “It’s so great to sneak greens into your baked goods!” But you’re getting, what, a fraction of an ounce of spinach per muffin? Negligible nutritional value. Sorry 😥 !

So. Best thing ever? Nope. Unique recipe worth trying? I sure think so. If you like both spinach and bananas, give these a shot!

Click here for the recipe!

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Lauren: Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

chocolatemintcookiesfinalChocolate and mint are our guests of honor this week. They’re a winning pair, a total classic, a sophisticated gem of a couple. And yet, I wasn’t that excited. This is probably because mint chips, those green chocolate chip look alikes, taste weird and kind of freak me out and because really, how could any chocolate-mint creation top the Thin Mint?

It’s difficult to be sure, and while these cookies do not outshine my Girl Scout cookies of yore, they are pretty awesome. They come from Joy the Baker and they do not disappoint. Perfectly fitting for a week filled with freezing, snowy days, these cookies are a little chilly and a lot chocolatey. Like A LOT. The best tip I have is to use my new favorite thing: Guittard Chocolate Chips (available at The Fresh Market and on Amazon). A thousand times better than anything by Ghirardelli or Nestlé, and so delicious I dare you not to eat them right out of the bag. If I can help it, I will never use anything else.

As per usual Joy writes a clear recipe but do beware of too much mint. Take only slight advantage of the surface tension of the measuring spoon and your cookies may veer a little closer to toothpaste-y than to something you want to intentionally ingest. Make sure to follow the baking time exactly too and you’ll have the perfect chewy-yet-not-undercooked cookie consistency, the one for which people eternally quest. I loved using only milk chocolate chips for this recipe but Joy uses a combination of chips, it could be delicious with dark chocolate too. Try it, let me know!

MAKE ME!

Joy’s recipe won because a) I’m lazy, and b) I had all the ingredients in my house. In a more ambitious mood these Chocolate Mint Wafer (sandwiches) from Martha Stewart would have won in a second.

Now get outside and play in the snow!

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Lauren: Caramelized-sesame chickpeas

sesamechickpeasIT’S CHICKPEA WEEK!!! How psyched are you? Yeah, for serious, cannot contain my excitement. Caro and I have been planning chickpea week, oh, since before this blog was even on our radar. We even have a DANCE about chickpeas for Pete’s sake! Don’t ask, just go with me here.

While I admit to having spent the past 15 minutes chipping garbanzo shrapnel off my pan and into every corner of the kitchen, I still implore you—MAKE THESE! There are sesame seeds and chickpeas, there is honey, they’re gluten free, they’re almost totally low-carb acceptable, they’re a little bit asian, they’re sweet without added sugar—they’re golden.

Let me explain how I found these little bits of magic.

Pinterest has been a regular haunt of mine lately and I have been “pinning” and “liking” up a storm. Everyone knows/thinks I like desserts but the thing is, I really kind of don’t. When I was little I was always one for cheese puffs over donut holes; I’d take savory over sweet any day. Now that I’m older, it seems to be happening again. Last weekend I went to St. louis, and for the first time frequented my favorite cupcake shop, and didn’t end up eating a single cupcake! I didn’t even want to eat them. I just kind of wanted to hoard them and look at them and maybe take the occasional sniff. But I had zero desire to eat them. WEIRD.

I couldn’t believe my luck when I found this recipe on Pinterest last week without even searching for chickpeas! It keeps with my effort to chill on the carbs since chickpeas, olive oil, and salt are totally ok (honey is another story but since most of it ends up burnt to the bottom of the pan anyway, I’m going to ignore it), it’s gluten-free (something I sometimes experiment with) and it has protein to keep you full—with some crunch! Nearly every salty snack that exists is packed with crap no one needs, so this is an ideal option. It’s sweet, it’s savory, it’s crunchy—just do it. DO IT! Just don’t eat them all at once (this is more of a note to myself) because about 1/4 cup of fully-hydrated chickpeas is one serving and they’re kind of high in calories for such a small amount.

sesamechickpeas2Anyway, are you ready for the deliciousness? Here we go.

The recipe came from the blog With Style and Grace. Aaand now (that I’ve just revisited the page) I see what would have saved me from the whole 15-minute chickpea-mining experience that just took place. PARCHMENT PAPER! Or a Silpat. The recipe is pretty self explanatory and easy-to-follow but there are a few notes besides the addition of my best friend, parchment paper.

  • Don’t burn your chickpeas. Once they’ve been roasting for around 25 minutes start watching them to ensure that they don’t shrivel into small bits of coal. The same goes for watching them during their second round in the oven after they’ve been covered in honey.
  • “Stirring” the chickpeas in the pan once they’ve been coated is nearly impossible. Try banging the sheet against the oven rack to free some of the peas, otherwise just ignore that part of the recipe—they turn out fine.
  • When the honey-ed chickpeas are finished, remove them from the pan IMMEDIATELY, or prepare to spend your afternoon as the archaeologist you never wanted to be.
  • The group of peas will fuse into one mass if placed in a bowl but fear not—lift the ball a few inches above where it sits in the bowl and just let it fall. It will break into smaller pieces. Repeat.
  • Know that if you do end up with a big, cement-like expanse of cooked honey on your sheet (if for instance you cook sans parchment paper and directly on the metal) simply run hot water over it instead of fighting it with a scrubby brush and dish soap, as it will dissolve in moments without any work!

Go. Make these now. Your 4 p.m. hunger will thank you.

For another gluten-free, lacy treat, check out these vegan florentines which look incredible.

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Caro: Easy, Customizable, No-Bake Granola Bars

Oats! I know to most this will probably seem like the single most boring ingredient we could have chosen to get people excited about a new year of food blogging, but I love oats, and I was totally super pumped when we picked them for our 2013 debut.

I’m pretty sure this is because, while my body is 22 years old, my self is actually grandma-aged. I have lots to back this up with.

For instance. Friday, I was out for happy hour with some friends, when some guy turned around and said he thought he’d spilled something on my shirt, which prompted my buddy from work to turn around and say, “What, you mean on that shirt my grandma also owns?” Uhh, mean. I defended my shirt, all like, “I think it’s cute, and it makes me look put-together for work, and I bought it at a hip young-people-clothes store, blah blah blah,” until some other guy backed me up (I think) by saying, “Yeah! It’s stylish in a practical and minimalist way,” which I didn’t completely understand but took as a compliment anyway.

I held on to that compliment as an odd form of assurance that my style is cool and age-appropriate, which was working out just fine for me until I got to work the next day and realized my 50- or 60-something-year-old manager and I were wearing the same. exact. pair of shoes. What?! Old lady. It’s who I am.

Stuff like this happens to me all the time. I dress like a grandma (or so I hear from people I’m pretty sure are at least 70% wrong). I love, love, LOVE soup. Especially split pea. I watch TV Land shows… on DVD (as in, I pay for them). Yep.

So anyway, now you know all this stuff about my old soul or whatever, all in my attempt to justify my love for oats. I love em. Oats week is exciting.

It’s funny that Lauren mentioned Joy the Baker, ’cause the first thing I thought to make as I penned oats week onto my calendar was my favorite riff on her baked oatmeal. I take her recipe, dial up the cinnamon, and trade the dried cranberries, fresh raspberries, and pistachios for fresh strawberries and cacao nibs. It’s seriously delicious. It’s the kind of breakfast I dream dreamy dreams about. But my oven decided it was not going to turn on on my designated baking day.

So no-bake it had to be… and suitable for breakfast, since I wanted to actually be able to eat what I made (instead of ending up with 47 oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies to force-feed my coworkers). Granola bars were the perfect back-up plan.

peanut-butter-pretzel-chocolate-chip granola bars

When your camera’s been broken for months, you have nothing to offer people but subpar artsy iPhone pictures. Better than nothing!

Two Peas and Their Pod was the source of the recipe that won my no-bake granola bar search. I usually mess with recipes to suit my tastes, but I pretty much went with this one to the letter, except that I tossed in some cacao nibs. (I’m obsessed with them.) Like a lot of other recipes, this one’s expensive the first time around if you don’t have the right ingredients on hand… but the good news is that once you buy the ingredients, you can make a whole buncha batches without having to buy anything else. So I won’t be one of those people who tries to tell you making your own granola bars is cheaper than investing in a $2.50 box of Nature Valleys at the grocery store, but I will tell you that over time the cost pretty much evens out, and if you make your own bars at home, you have the added benefit of putting whatever you want in them!!!

And, on that note, the beauty of this recipe is its customizability. Allergic to peanut butter? Almond butter, Biscoff spread, Nutella. Don’t like pretzels? Corn flakes, nut of choice, potato chips. Chocolate chips too boring? Cinnamon chips, toffee bits, sprinkles?! Ok, fine, sprinkles in a granola bar may be weird. But you get my point. Make this the granola bar of your dreams!

By the way, these are much better than any store-bought granola bar I’ve had. I could just be biased… but I have my parents on my side, and they dislike most of what I make, so I’m going to guess it’s just that these are actually super yummy. And they’re easy, quick, and customizable, so there’s not much of an excuse for settling for the boxed variety. I’d much rather take the time to make my own & adapt ’em to whatever I’m in the mood for in a given week. In other words, these’ll be a repeat creation in my kitchen. I hope you try them and feel the same way!

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Three cheers for granola bars. The breakfast of champions.

Click here for the recipe!

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Lauren: Maple, white chocolate, and cherry oatmeal cookies

oatmeal-cherry-maplecookies

Happy New Year! In honor of winter/a year ending in 13/my sister’s surgery/it being Tuesday, I made cookies. This should surprise exactly no one. In case it’s difficult to figure out the ingredient of the week with my everything-but-the-kitchen-sink post title, it’s oats! The theme was chosen with this recipe in mind. I realize this might seem weird. Oats? How boring can we be? Answer: pretty boring. Do I even like white chocolate? No. What about real-deal maple syrup? Negative. Cherries? Chyeah I could eat a whole bag! Buuut in with all this other stuff? Skeptical. They looked so perfectly golden and chewy on Joy’s website though that I just couldn’t resist! They had to be made!

Now, baking is most fun when there is someone around to feed or there is an event for which to prepare food. Christmas was a prime example. I must have made and gifted these Valrhona dark chocolate and orange buttermilk scones 15 times. Every single time the recipient demanded the recipe; if only I could take credit for it! Anyway that whole exercise only fueled my newfound love of the Joy the Baker blog and cookbook…her podcast is another story entirely. Translation: I’ve been checking her blog with the ferocity of a crack addict hoping for inspiration for my latest food project.

Well last week that certainly happened. My sister, Meredith slept over at our house the night before her surgery. An extra house guest and a new recipe from Joy? “What a coincidence,” I thought, “I’ll bake!” This recipe made SO MANY COOKIES. Holy moly I could have fed a small nation. Instead of solving hunger in Papua New Guinea, we had a dinner of cookies while watching The Magic of Belle Isle (totally random but cute) and attempted to stuff Meredith with as many cookies as possible prior her midnight pre-surgery eating and drinking cut-off.

These dreamy wheels of oatmeal and maple were a big hit with my family, my dad’s coworkers, and my friends. Confession: I’ve actually made them twice in the span of 11 days. Yep I’m an addict.

Recipe: Joy the Baker’s Maple, White Chocolate and Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

Notes:

  • No one was a fan of white chocolate at the outset so I inserted just a few shards of it into a couple dough balls prior to baking. After baking, my nay-saying family remarked that they actually liked the white chocolate and that it acted almost like goat cheese-a savory balance to the sweet.
  • I thought the cinnamon was the delightful aroma radiating from the cookies but Meredith and my mom thought it was the maple that really shone through. Whatever it was, the scent of this cookie acted like smell-fingers in a cartoon pulling in anyone within a 10 ft. radius. So good. But if you made any sugar/dessert/health-related resolutions DO NOT MAKE THIS RECIPE! You’ll end up having cookies for dinner. Several. nights. in a row.
  • The dough didn’t turn golden until they’d been in the oven—and my oven overheats—for around 13 minutes, I have no idea how Joy’s were ready after 10.
  • I’d use a cup or more of cherries instead of Joy’s 3/4 cup because their tartness and chew provide a nice counterpoint to the sugary, crumbly base. And if you’re wondering why you don’t see chocolate peeking out of my cookie stack, it’s because the second time I made these I left the chocolate out entirely. It was not missed.
  • These are super easy and are great for feeding a large group since one recipe yields 2+ dozen cookies.

Ok I’m going to resume stalking Joy’s blog now. Happy 2013 and welcome back to the Copy Kitchens, we’re so excited you’re here!

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