Peanut Butter Mississippi Mud Brownies

pbmissmudbrownies

It’s finally that time of the year. The weather finally got a clue and cooled down. I was super giddy about it all, until I remembered that my allergies usually hate weather changes. Let’s just say that I raided the grocery store today, and amongst the things in my cart were Mucinex, zinc drops, vitamin C, Benadryl & Reese’s cups. Priorities, people!

One of the great things about the weather cooling down is that I just want to bake up a storm. I naturally purchase more butter, flour, sugar and eggs. I already have a stockpile of chocolate chips & random candies to mix into baked goodies, so I don’t have to go to the store when the urge to bake strikes.  :-) I also really crave comfort foods, like pot roast, gumbo and chili.

Recently, I was asked if I wanted to review a copy of Southern Living’s new book “No Taste Like Home”, which was released yesterday.

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As a fan of Southern Living, I couldn’t say no, and with Southern Living being known for the typical Southern, comforting recipes, it was perfect timing with the weather cooling down. This book basically highlights recipes from different regions of the South, including:

  • The Heart of Dixie
  • Cajun Country
  • Big, Bold Texas
  • The Piedmont & the Mountains
  • The Bluegrass, Bourbon & Barbecue Trail
  • The Coastal South

Basically, if you’re from the South, there’s a good chance that you’ll see some familiar hometown recipes. If you’re not from the South, you’ll probably want to start cooking from this book immediately to introduce yourself to some amazing Southern fare.  :-)

When I got the book in my hands, I immediately had to skim through it with my sticky note pad handy to bookmark recipes that caught my eye. Let’s just say that the copy I have is full of sticky notes. So many wonderful recipes, and the photos are just lovely. I typically would have first made a recipe from the “Cajun Country” (Louisiana) chapter, but this recipe, from “The Heart of Dixie” (Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi) chapter was just pulling me in. Rich chocolate brownies with peanut butter batter swirled in, topped with melted, gooey marshmallows, peanuts and a decadent chocolate frosting. I mean…c’mon. How could I not?

Do I even have to say that they were beyond delicious? Oh my gosh…insanely good! You will definitely want a glass of milk (or heck, a scoop of ice cream) handy for these, though. They’re definitely indulgent, and while there’s a few steps involved, they are just completely worth it. I promise!

Now, of course I wouldn’t gush about this book without sharing some of the love! The wonderful folks at Southern Living/YC Media are offering a lucky Nifty Foodie reader a copy of this book. To enter the giveaway, just check out the Rafflecopter widget below! [Read more…]

Sticky Buns with Pecans

stickybuns

Y’all. I just can’t stop thinking about fall spices. I can’t get enough of the spicy, warm scents in our house, and even though the weather hasn’t caught up yet, I’m baking up a storm! I’ve already gone through 3 cans of pumpkin, picked up all of my favorite fall spices (since a few were running low from last year) and I’m fairly sure my mixer is enjoying those precious little breaks ever so often.

This recipe is out of the norm for me. You see, when I started baking, I tried to be brave and try recipes involving yeast. I can’t tell you how many times the yeast just wouldn’t rise. I figured out that my error was probably in the temperature of the water, since yeast can easily die if you use too hot of a liquid in your recipe. So now when I bake with yeast, I’m very mindful of the ingredients’ temperature, and sometimes err on the cooler side, just in case.

I saw this recipe on America’s Test Kitchen’s twitter page a couple of weeks ago, and I just couldn’t get it out of my mind. I took a Saturday morning to make these happen, and thankfully, the yeast was my friend. These were delicious and pretty darn easy to make (seriously…it’s just time consuming because of the rising times). My mom happened to be in town to meet me for lunch that afternoon, and she loved these! I had to send one home to Dad, too. :-)

Sticky Buns with Pecans
Source: America’s Test Kitchen

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
  • 4 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (plus additional for dusting work surface)
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm

For the caramel glaze:

  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp. corn syrup (light or dark)
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream
  • pinch of table salt

For the cinnamon-sugar filling:

  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • pinch of table salt
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

For the pecan topping:

  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp. corn syrup (light or dark)
  • pinch of table salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup pecans (toasted in a skillet for 5 minutes on medium heat, then cooled and coursely chopped)

Directions:

  1. To make the dough, in the bowl of a stand mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment), whisk the eggs until combined and add the buttermilk, whisking to combine as well. Add the sugar, salt and yeast to the mixer and mix well. Add 2 cups of the flour, as well as the melted butter, and mix until the mixture is evenly mixed and moistened. Add another 2 cups of flour to the mixture, and switch out the paddle attachment for the dough hook, and knead the dough on low speed for 5 minutes. Once the kneading is done, check the consistency of the dough (dough should feel soft and moist, but not wet and sticky…if you need more flour, add the extra 1/4 cup in). Knead the dough on low speed for 5 more minutes, and you’ll notice that the dough should clear the sides of the bowl but still stick to the bottom of the bowl. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface, and knead the dough by hand for about a minute to make sure that the dough is uniform (if the dough is still sticky during hand kneading, knead in more flour 1 tbsp. at a time).
  2. Spray the inside of a large bowl or plastic container with nonstick cooking spray. Place the dough in the bowl, and lightly spray the dough with cooking spray as well. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and place it in a warm, draft-free place until the dough has doubled in volume (about 2 – 2 1/2 hours).
  3. While the first rise is happening, make the glaze. Combine all ingredients for the glaze in a small saucepan, and cook the mixture over medium heat (whisking occasionally), until the butter is melted and mixture is thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into a nonstick metal 9×13 inch baking dish, and spread the mixture evenly with a rubber spatula to completely cover the surface of the baking dish. Set aside.
  4. Now, make the filling by combining the brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a small bowl, and mix everything until well-combined (making sure to break up any sugar lumps). Set the mixture aside. After the dough has finished its first rise, place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. With a gentle hand, shape the dough into a rough rectangle with the long side nearest you. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour, and roll into a 16×12 inch rectangle. At this time, brush the dough with the 1 tbsp. of melted butter, being sure to leave a 1/2 inch border along the top edge of the dough. After you’re done buttering the dough, with the remaining butter on the brush, brush the sides of the baking dish. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, making sure to leave a 3/4 inch border along the top edge. When all of the filling is used, smooth the filling in an even layer with your hand, and gently press the mixture into the dough to adhere. Starting with the long edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Firmly pinch the top seam to seal the dough, and roll the cylinder seam-side down. Gently stretch the cylinder to an even diameter and an 18 inch length. If necessary, push the ends in to create an even thickness throughout. With a serrated knife and gentle sawing motion, slice the cylinder in half, then slice each half in half once more to make even sized quarters. Then, slice each quarter evenly into thirds, making 12 buns.
  5. Place the buns in the prepared pan, cut-side down. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap, and set the pan in a warm, draft-free spot, until the buns are puffy and are pressed against each other, about 1 1/2 hours. While the dough is in its final rise, place the oven rack in its lowest position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Once the buns are done rising, place the pan in the oven, and bake the buns until they’re golden brown, and the center of the dough reads 180 degrees on a digital thermometer (about 25-30 minutes). Cool the buns in the pan on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes, and then invert the pan onto a rimmed baking sheet, large serving platter or cutting board. Using a rubber spatula, scrape any leftover glaze from the pan onto the buns. Allow the buns to cool while making the pecan topping.
  7. To make the topping, add the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt to a small saucepan and cook the mixture over medium heat, until it reaches a simmer, stirring occasionally to thoroughly combine. Remove the saucepan from heat, and stir in the vanilla extract and pecans, until the pecans are evenly coated with the sauce. Using a spoon, spoon a heaping tbsp. amount of nuts/sauce over the center of each bun. Continue to cool the buns until they are just warm, another 15-20 minutes. Pull apart the buns or use a serrated knife to separate the sticky buns and serve.

Monday Weigh-In: Week 90

This week was pretty awesome. I got back into running, did a ton of fall yardwork (hello pretty flowers) and was pretty much on plan all week.

The scale was definitely my friend. :-)

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Week 89: 238.4
Week 90: 235.2

Weight Lost: 3.2 lbs. 
Total Weight Lost: 63.3 lbs.

I plan on running more this week, and possibly getting back into weight training as well. I’m hoping to see my first 5 lb. star at my next weigh-in…I was SO close this week!

How was everyone else’s week?

Berry-Nana-Cado Smoothie

berrynanacado

I started running again this week, and I was SO shocked that I was able to do 10 minutes of running at a time. It has been way too long since I last hit the pavement, and it felt wonderful to get back to it. With working out, though, comes a mean appetite. I come home starving, even if I have something before my run. My favorite snack post-workout is a smoothie. Just throw the ingredients in, and let the blender do all the work. When you feel like collapsing on the sofa and staying there for hours after a hard workout, this is my kind of recipe.

I usually just go with a banana/protein powder combination, because it seriously tastes like a milkshake. I prefer to buy bananas super cheap at our local grocery store, when they’re overripe. 3 bunches of bananas for 99 cents? SCORE! I’ve been known to purchase 5-6 packs of bananas, and I just take a few minutes to quarter the bananas and place them in one layer in a freezer bag. Easy peasy. For this smoothie, I went protein powder-less, and tried something different: avocado.

Now, before you cringe, avocado is a fairly mild food. It’s not like I threw guacamole in the blender…avocado alone lends a creamy consistency to the smoothie. This recipe couldn’t be easier either…throw all of your ingredients in and blend away! You’d be surprised…seriously. It’s great, and it’s surprisingly filling, since there’s no protein powder in this recipe. :-)

Note: This post is my entry for the “Wake Up Breakfast with California Avocados” link-up/contest, being hosted by Dine and Dish & Cookin’ Canuck.

Berry-Nana-Cado Smoothie
Source: heavily adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of a medium California avocado (pitted and flesh removed)
  • 1 1/2 cups low calorie orange juice (I used Trop50)
  • 1/2 of a frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries (no sugar added)
  • 1/4 cup frozen strawberries (no sugar added)
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 6-8 ice cubes

Directions:

  1. Throw all ingredients in the blender, and blend until all ingredients are blended well. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Bundt Cake

cinnswirlbundt

I think the baking bug has hit me. I’m all about baking lately. We had a slight “cold” front this past weekend that made me think that the Fall weather is almost here. It made me run to Home Depot and immediately purchase mums, as well as prep the gardens for pretty cool weather annuals. It’s been hard to hold back on adding a bunch of color to the garden, but horticulturist momma told me I need to wait until the beginning of October. ::sigh:: (I think I may buy annuals this weekend…don’t read this blog, Mom! October is close enough, right?) :-P

Right after I finished the gardens (and scrubbed all the dirt off, of course), I had an itch to bake something pumpkin-y. I immediately went online, and found this recipe for pumpkin bundt cake. I thought…eh, I’ve done pumpkin bundt cake before…I need to add something else to it. Then, I thought to add in a simple cinnamon swirl (because who doesn’t like a little extra spice in their pumpkin baked goodies?), as well as a pumpkin spice glaze instead of the buttermilk one this original recipe calls for. Let’s just say our kitchen smelled like heaven. Delicious, spicy, weather needs to cool down any minute now — heaven. ::hint HINT Louisiana!::

Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Bundt Cake
Source: adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon

For the glaze:

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • pinch of allspice
  • pinch of clove
  • 3 tbsp. milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and put an oven rack in the middle position. Prepare your bundt pan by spraying the inside generously with baking spray or butter/flouring the inside (being sure to get every nook and cranny).
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1 tsp. cinnamon, allspice and salt in a medium sized bowl. In another bowl (or the measuring cup you have the buttermilk in), whisk the pumpkin, buttermilk and vanilla extract together.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar for about 3-5 minutes on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl down with a spatula, add in the eggs, and beat the mixture for one minute. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and add 1/4 of the flour mixture, then 1/3 of the pumpkin mixture, repeating until all is used up (making sure to begin and end with the flour mixture), mixing everything until the batter is just smooth.
  4. In a separate small bowl, mix the 1/4 cup of granulated sugar and the 1 tbsp. of cinnamon.
  5. Spoon half of the batter into the pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Then, liberally sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the top of the batter already in the pan. Then, spoon the other half of the batter on top of the cinnamon sugar, and spread the top evenly with a spatula.
  6. Bake the cake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tested inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Place the cake pan on a cooling rack for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack, allowing it to cool for 10 more minutes.
  7. While the cake is cooling, make the glaze. Place the confectioners sugar and spices in a large bowl, and whisk together until well-mixed. Add in the milk, and whisk until the glaze is smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the warm cake, and then allow the cake to finish cooling completely.

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Weigh-In: Week 89

It was a bad week. I know exactly what I did (aka splurge like crazy), and the scale showed it. I’m OK with it.

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Week 88: 236.8
Week 89: 238.4

Weight Lost: +1.6 lbs.
Total Weight Lost: 60.1 lbs.

Honestly, I’m not upset about it. I know exactly what I did, and I’m gonna do better this coming week. I plan on getting back into running this week, since my half training starts in a little over a month. (crazy…OMG…I’m training for a half)

How was everyone else’s week?

dd

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars with Vanilla Frosting

chocolatechipbars

Life has been a little bit hectic lately. Between dealing with the whole lightning incident, work getting super busy and just trying to catch up on house work, I just needed to stop for a second and bake something. My husband and I have just been trying to find normal things to do to get our minds off everything. Baking and knitting are things that have been happening a lot for me. For a couple hours a day, I can just forget everything and have immediate results, whether it be a quick cowl or these bars.

This recipe was so quick to throw together. Cookie dough usually is quick, and the longest part is scooping cookies out and baking in batches. Well, with these bars, you just spread the whole thing in a jelly roll pan. Simple enough, right? This tastes just like a cookie cake, and the icing puts it over the top. I used a whipped vanilla buttercream that I blogged about before, and then went crazy on the sprinkles. (By the way, am I the only person who buys bulk sprinkles?) They were perfect–simple, classic and tasty.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars with Vanilla Frosting
Source: Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 batch whipped vanilla frosting
  • rainbow sprinkles

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, making sure that your oven rack is in the center. Line a 12×17 inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together and set aside. Then, in the bowl of an electric mixer (using the paddle attachment), beat the butter and granulated/brown sugars on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula, and add the eggs and vanilla. Mix everything until well-combined. Add in the flour mixture, and beat everything on low speed until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  3. Dollop the dough on the baking sheet, and spread in an even layer with a spatula. If the dough gets sticky, have a bowl of hot water handy to dip/clean off the spatula.
  4. Bake the bars for about 20-30 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through the baking, until the edges are brown and the top of the bars are golden. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire cooling rack, and allow it to cool completely in the baking sheet.
  5. Make the whipped vanilla frosting, and once the bars are fully cooled, liberally frost the bars. Add sprinkles on top of the frosting and serve.

 

Bananas Foster a la Mode Cups & A Giveaway!

bananasfosteralamode2

A couple of months ago, my husband and I went to a restaurant in New Orleans. When it came time for dessert, we decided to split something, but the problem with splitting with my husband is the dessert cannot contain any chocolate, caramel or peanut butter (he hates it all). I know…poor guy doesn’t know what he’s missing! Luckily, this particular restaurant had a bananas foster torte, so I knew we were set. It was absolutely delicious, indulgent and rich. In fact, I’m SO glad we split it, because there was no way I could eat the whole thing. Ever since then, bananas foster has been fresh on my mind. I had to make a fun recipe with this classic New Orleans favorite.

I’m thrilled to be working with Calphalon again to review their brand new Elite Nonstick cookware, which is sold exclusively at Williams-Sonoma. It’s currently for sale on their website, and will be in stores on September 27th. I’m sure you guys know that I love using nonstick cookware, but one of the biggest issues I’ve faced is being limited to wooden or silicone utensils. This line is safe for metal utensils (fork out your whisks!). Yep…I’m serious! This cookware also comes with a textured sear surface, which is awesome because you can get the sear that you usually get from stainless steel, but with the convenience (hello, easy clean-up) of a nonstick pan. This line of cookware is also dishwasher safe.

Calphalon sent me this 3 piece set to review, and asked me to create a modern twist on a classic recipe, using one of the pans. With that in mind, I grabbed the 10″ pan, some bananas and got to work! The end result is homemade bananas foster ice cream, topped with warm bananas foster, contained in a cinnamon sugar wonton cup. I hope you like bananas for this one, y’all, because there is plenty of sweet banana flavor in this recipe!

bananasfosteralamode

For the ice cream, I omitted the rum, because even though the alcohol cooks off, I didn’t want to chance the ice cream not setting up properly. I suggest making the ice cream one day before you plan on serving these desserts, so the ice cream can be a scoop-able consistency.

[Read more…]

Monday Weigh-In: Week 88

This week was my first week on the Weight Watchers program. It’s the first time that I fully stepped away from MyFitnessPal since I’ve been on this journey, and it was a little weird. I wanted to trust fully in the Weight Watchers program without my calorie counting crutch, and I was so happy to see some results!

Monday Weigh in

Week 87: 239.4
Week 88: 236.8

Weight Lost: 2.6 lbs.
Total Weight Lost: 61.7 lbs.

The points program wasn’t too hard to follow, and I appreciate that they have extra weekly points that encourages my Saturday splurge day. I really like doing 6 days on program, 1 day off. The great thing about my splurge days is that I’ve tracked the past two Saturdays, and my splurges don’t even come close to using all of the extra weekly points. I will say that I didn’t work out this week, but I’m hoping to get back into running this week!

How did everyone do this week? Any victories to share?

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Ice Cream

cinnamontoasticecream

Is it crazy that I haven’t made any homemade ice cream this summer? I mean it’s hot enough for it, so I have no idea why I didn’t fork out the machine until September. I will say that I did have a slight addiction to skinny cow sandwiches the past couple of months, and homemade ice cream isn’t very calorie friendly, but usually calorie splurges never stop me (especially lately).

I HAD to make this ice cream, though. I recently received a copy of Jessica Segarra’s (also known as The Novice Chef) new cookbook: Cereal Sweets & Treats. Jessica is a good blogging friend of mine, and I was so excited when she wanted to send me a copy of her new book. It’s full of so many fun recipes…recipes you’d never think you could use cereal with. Cap’n Crunch milkshakes, Lucky Charms macarons, Pumpkin Cheerios bars, Fruit Loops cupcakes, and Corn Pops ice cream, just to name a few. Seriously….doesn’t that all sound so fun?!

The idea of cereal ice cream just pulled me in, and I will mention that while the original recipe is for Corn Pop ice cream, in Jessica’s notes, she mentions trying this with your favorite cereal. One of my favorites is cinnamon toast crunch, and I had a feeling this would make for a great ice cream. One of the best things about this ice cream is that this isn’t a custard based ice cream. Yup…no eggs needed, so making this recipe really wasn’t that difficult. The method Jessica uses doesn’t make the ice cream overpoweringly sweet, because the cereal soaks in the milk/heavy cream and then you strain it out. Also, no worries about soggy cereal, since you strain it out…it’s more of an infusion of flavor from the cereal. I have to say, after having a bowl (or two haha!), I think this ice cream would be perfect on top of a slice of warm apple or pumpkin pie. It has a really good cinnamon flavor to it that would make fall treats that much more amazing. :-)

If you want to check out more recipes (I think those pumpkin cheerios bars are calling my name next!), Jessica’s book is available on Amazon for under $15!

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Ice Cream
Source: barely adapted from Cereal Sweets & Treats

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups cinnamon toast crunch cereal
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix the milk, heavy cream and cinnamon toast crunch cereal together. Allow the mixture to soak for 30 minutes in the fridge, stirring occasionally. Strain the cereal out of the mixture and discard the cereal.
  2. Place the milk mixture in a large saucepan, and whisk in the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, and continue to boil the mixture for 2 minutes. Remove the mixture from heat, and stir in the vanilla extract. Allow the mixture to fully cool in the refrigerator, until the mixture is cold to the touch.
  3. Once the mixture has cooled, pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The ice cream will be a soft serve consistency at this point, but if you’d like the ice cream to be more scoop-able, allow it to harden in an airtight container in the freezer for at least 3 hours.

 

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for a fair and honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.