Category Archives: Baking

I run 50 miles a week… I deserve some sweets.

Sic ‘Em, Oatmeal Cookies

Image

Combining three of my favorite things: oatmeal cookies, school spirit and Nutella. How could this go wrong?

Well, actually … these were better in theory than execution. The oatmeal roll-out batter worked alright but when it came to cutting out the paw shapes the oats didn’t really cut, yielding misshapen cookies. Further, the cookie cutter I bought for the occasion from Sur La Table just didn’t make defined paw shapes. Un-iced and misshapen the cookies were at their lowest point. They were very plain. Between the flavor and shape they made me think of dog treats.

But the Nutella frosting was a creative triumph. I wanted an icing that would harden, but I only saw recipes for fluffy cake-style Nutella frostings. I combined one of those with a recipe for regular cookie icing (basically just added corn syrup and powdered sugar to the Nutella- sugary Nutella plus more sugar!). It hardened nicely and worked out just the way I wanted it to.

I added almonds for “claws” and we were set.

The school spirit part worked out fine. I shared them with the team on the bus ride to Regionals. They weren’t a huge hit, but they got nods for their cuteness.

Still, I’m glad I tried. Probably wouldn’t make them again but it was fun for one time.

Sic ’em!

RECIPE: Nutella Cookie Icing

  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 1.5 cups powdered sugar
  • 5 T milk
  • 1 T corn syrup

Combine all ingredients and blend with hand mixer until very smooth. Spread with offset spatula. Icing will harden after 5 hours.

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Knock You Naked Brownies / The PW Cooking Show

Pioneer Woman doesn’t give much background on these babies, except that the first time she tried them, they were so good she had to ration them.

Layers of brownies, studded with pecans, sandwiching a soft caramel center, topped with powdered sugar. Observe.

After having made them, I’ll take that “ration” concept one step further — they are good, even fantastic, but you have to ration them because they are so toothaching-ly sweet and rich. And coming from me, a girl who polished off probably a full jar cumulative between two new flavors of Peanut Butter & Co. in the last TWO DAYS (oof), that’s saying a lot.

Go ahead, knock yourself out, Knock You Naked Brownies won’t let you down. They were a hit last summer at my internship, and at my friend’s 4th of July party.

I posted this recipe for two reasons 1. a friend told me today I only posted healthy recipes. Ha. I’ll show her. and 2. I finally got to watch Pioneer Woman’s cooking show today.

The show started airing months ago, and despite the fact that I’m a big PW fan I’d never gotten to watch it because it airs at 8:30 a.m. on Saturdays. I’m always running a long run or at a meet at that time, but this weekend the stars aligned… I saw “The Big Game,” the episode where The Pioneer Woman herself (Ree Drummond) preps wings, guac and pico, and Knock You Naked brownies for her husband Ladd and his out-of-town friends. The show focused a good couple of minutes (a lot for a 30 min slot that includes commercials) on a subplot of Ladd taking the guys around doing some cattle herding ranch work while Ree stays home and cooks. Really? We know Ree is the ranch wife. Wanna rub it in?

Another impression from the show: watching Pioneer Woman come to life from her blog to TV is just odd. It’s like seeing a photo of your favorite radio host and having them look completely different than you imagined. Of course, I knew how she looked before, but never how she sounded. She doesn’t act very comfortable on-screen, and she’s a lot less funny.

Anyway, the recipe I found most interesting on the episode was the brownies, hence the post. Please tell me if you would like to eat these brownies. I’d be delighted to make them and unload them on you so I don’t eat too many.

Margarita [banana] soft serve

soft and creamy!

This is a mash-up of two recent additions to my menu in the last couple of weeks.

1. Banana “soft serve”

I didn’t believe the hype when I first read that processing frozen bananas made a treat that kind of tastes (but mostly feels) like ice cream. But I swear, the texture is fantastic and hello, it’s healthy!

2. Margarita flavored Crystal Light powder

Sometimes I think I shouldn’t drink so much of this because of the artificial sugar, but at least it’s helping me stay hydrated, right? And this flavor really does taste like a marg. I will forever be in awe of how they make that hard tequila flavor come through.

Anyway, there are lots of variations on this banana soft serve concept, like adding peanut butter, fruit or chocolate chips.

Someone else's far more attractive recipe

But in a bout of inspiration/ lack of fresh fruit or any chocolate, I reached for my Crystal Light powder.

1+2 = margarita [banana] “ice cream.”

Weird, yes – but yummy. Give it a shot.

Confessions of an Ex-Chocolate-Hater

Previous feelings

Guys, I don’t know how, but for the first 20 years of my life, I didn’t like chocolate.

It tasted bitter. It was just bad.

As a kid I decided, “this is gross,” and wouldn’t touch it.

But from the vast enjoyment every other human being on the planet displayed while eating this marvel substance, I knew I was missing out.

Gateway Drugs

Chocolate.

No other food seemed to weaken my friends’ resistance, inspire their baking, or enhance every dish it touched.

Chocolate was the only food I didn’t like that I wanted to like.

It was standing in the way of my ultimate enjoyment of food.

So it is with great pride and pleasure that I announce for the world, I now eat and yes, love chocolate.

I have carefully cultivated

Who wouldn't want these?

this taste, first with chocolate-enhanced items: Andes Mints at Olive Garden, chocolate-dipped strawberries at Valentines parties, chocolate-coated protein bars, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups and Milky Ways from candy bowls.

I progressed to the Halloween candy my roommates had already gotten their fill of, then the Russell Stover Gift Box left lying around at Christmas.

This was such a good sign. I was circling back to eat more and more. Chocolate no longer evaded me… I enjoyed it. I have yet to buy any, but I will soon. I want to expand my tastes from fun size Snickers and Twix. I’m particularly excited about dark chocolate (health benefits woo!) and artsy chocolates.

I’m happy but reeling a little… for so long I was the chocolate-hater. It was a convenient excuse to ignore desserts other people complained about overeating. I was unique. Seriously 99% of people were incredulous to discover I didn’t like chocolate. Now I’m just like everyone else.

But I’ll give up a bit of my identity if it means I can share in this  joy that is chocolate.

Never thought I'd say it, but this looks awesome

P.S. Someday I’ll have to share with you the story of my acquired taste for cottage cheese. It is an equally thrilling tale.

Ginger Bars: Dissatisfying Foray into Healthy Baking

Ginger Bars

I mean, it’s not like they were bad. It’s just, if I’m going to go to the trouble of dirtying my kitchen and indulging in something sweet, I’d rather it be full on dessert.

I saw this recipe in the September issue of my mom’s Woman’s Day magazine (so what if I don’t fit the target demographic? I LIKE Woman’s Day). It was a little set of recipes for healthier bar cookies, like brownies using white whole wheat flour and no-bake cereal bars.

“Ginger bars,” I thought, “I’m all about fresh spices. And healthy too! Win-win!” I also got suckered in by the cute picture. After the magazine sat in my bathroom for five months (living room magazines get responsibly recycled), somehow,

Cast of Characters

today was the day the ginger bars came to life.

Recipe called for white whole wheat, flaxseed meal, brown sugar, ground ginger and crystallized ginger (ginger candy) as well as your typical butter, egg, salt, vanilla and baking soda.

Basically, you melted the butter and added in the sugar, the egg and vanilla, then the dry ingredients, and finally the chopped crystallized ginger.

The ginger was super time-consuming to chop, so sticky. I ended up heating it and pulling it apart with my fingers.

Well, that was it, nothing too complex. The first thing I thought when I tasted it was, “This would be delicious with frosting or butterscotch chips!” It tasted like spiced  muffins, which, along with banana bread, are like the morally gray areas of baked goods. Are they breakfast foods or dessert? They didn’t taste very strongly of ginger, nor were they very sweet.

The ginger bars were ok, but not worth the trouble.

Moral of the story: When baking, go big or go home. Next dessert will not be light, whole wheat or low-sugar.

(Perpetrator Recipe here at WomansDay.com)