Thursday, July 30, 2015

Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Blondies


My lovely, sweet and beautiful niece Elyse turns 13 today (blink.blink.). It's insane to think about the time that has passed but I'm so excited to see her take on life as an awesome teenager. Not sure what to make her for birthday baking, I decided 13 warrants a bit of sophistication. Instead of candy or chocolate overloaded sweets, I went for a classy combination of white chocolate and dried cranberries in a moderately sweet blondie with a crunchy edge and a slightly chewy center. This version is delicious and celebratory in a subtle way. Plus, in a pinch, you can toss a scoop of ice cream and maybe some caramel sauce on top and make a lovely blondie sundae.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Brioche French Toast


I adore French toast--it's definitely one of my favorite breakfast foods. But I rarely make it at home because it doesn't ever turn out the way I want it to: perfectly fluffy inside and a touch of crisp outside with a sweet, cinnamon finish. Mine is usually soggy and the cinnamon clumps together so only the first few pieces get the spice, which is always spotty and heavy. But last week I was in Aldi (of all places) and spotted a beautiful loaf of chocolate chip brioche. For real. Aldi. As soon as I saw it, I thought--French Toast! I hemmed and hawed for a second and then took it as a sign that yes, I need to master this dish. Dave and I were thrilled with the result--it was exactly the type of challenge I needed. Fluffy? Yes. Sweet and subtle with cinnamon and nutmeg? Yes. Grilled to a perfect exterior crisp with no soggy interior? Yes. Now I just a have to stalk Aldi for brioche in order to make it again!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Chocolate Vanilla Swirl Bread


Sometimes, usually when ordering soft-serve ice cream, I can't decide if I want chocolate or vanilla. I mean, chocolate is always a yes, but occasionally I like the idea of vanilla. But to go all vanilla means I get no chocolate, which seems kind of wrong in a lot of ways. Which is why I thank my lucky stars for the genius that invented the swirl. The clean, fresh sweetness of vanilla without sacrificing the rich goodness of chocolate all in one delicious treat. Which is exactly the best description for this quick bread. A perfectly tender crumb with all the loveliness of both chocolate and vanilla, not to mention a pretty little swirl when you cut off each slice. It might seem like twice the work since you need to make two batters, but you get two loaves out of the deal, so there's a nice return on investment (yes, I supposed you could split the recipe in half, but then you won't have a loaf to share with someone).

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

M&M Snack Cake Bars


Part cake, part bar, all delicious. These bars are all that's right in the world and were super simple to put together after I got our little guy down for the night. My evening baking time is limited since we have a pretty regular routine getting Logan to bed, so finding quick recipes that can be completed in the time before I hit the pillow is imperative. And this one isn't only quick, but delicious. The bars are soft, but not overly cakey. Like the perfect cross between cake and cookie and blondie. Perfect texture and not crumbly. Now the base is perfect for just about any sort of mix in, but really chocolate chips and mini M&Ms solidifies these bars as a great snack. The only thing better would have been to add sprinkles (it is cake after all) and get some funfetti action up in these tasty treats. There's always next time.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Oatmeal Cookie Bars


Last week I started back at the gym again. I was a pretty regular gym rat prior to our little nugget working out right up until he was born. Five days a week I did strength, cardio or yoga. Plus Dave and I were pretty active with biking, kayaking, and other outdoor activities. But a winter baby--born during the worst winter in recent history (do the people complaining about the lovely summer heat forget our 7 feet of snow?)--plus the lack of time, energy and shear access to get to the gym has meant I've neglected my former workouts. I workout to be healthy and this body was built by baby and cookies, so getting back into some sort of active lifestyle needed to take on a new priority level in my life. So the other day I found myself on day two of my new workout routine, on the elliptical and really pushing hard. It felt great and I surprised myself by not being nearly as out of shape as expected. And then I remembered I wanted to make brownies or some sort of bar for work the next day. Browsing Pinterest on my phone, the irony hit me right away that while I was working to shed the pounds from baby (and yes, far too many cookies and other sweets since then), I was also researching a new way to enjoy sugar and chocolate. But really these bars have oatmeal so that means they're healthy, right (right?!?). Soft, chewy, gooey bars mimic a perfect oatmeal cookie all full of nutty goodness but made more awesome with an overabundance (is there really such a thing?) of chocolate chips. Plus, hello simple. I got these done in about a half hour, after work, start to finish, including washing the dishes while they baked.