Sunday, May 29, 2011

Granola Addiction

Sad Fact: I’ve been really lazy today. I finally got myself off the couch and onto the comfy chair outdoors. At least I can say I spent time outside today.

Fun Fact: I’m not unhealthy. I’m really not. I just happen to talk about the one indulgent dessert I eat a week. (Okay… I’ve eaten a few sweets this week. It’s tough working in a restaurant with shelves and shelves of baked goods. But during the school year it’s once a week!)

I could be like my boyfriend and consider a hot dog cooked in butter and hot sauce a decent meal. You think I’m kidding. But I’m not.

I’m actually surprisingly healthy. So today I’ll share with you a more accurate portrayal of the day-to-day eatings of me.

Almost every morning I eat plain greek yogurt with granola and sliced banana in it, drizzled with honey. Typically I eat Kashi Honey Almond Flax granola but after my recent kitchen experiment, I’ve turned to a new home-made granola.

Well, they were supposed to be granola bars but they turned out a little crumbly. Easy fix, not to worry. And it wasn’t a complete failure - when I cut the bars with a sharp knife, they came out great! But when I used a dull spatula, they crumbled. Outcome? A few granola bars and a nice container of granola! What’s best is it tasted great both ways!

These granola bars only have 5 ingredients! Very easy, yet very yummy.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Granola Bars

Source: Handle The Heat

4 cups rolled oats

½ cup unsalted beanuts, chopped

¾ cup natural peanut butter

½ cup honey

½ cup chocolate chips

Preheat over to 350. In a large bowl, combine oats, and peanuts. Add honey and peanut butter, mix to combine.

Add in chocolate chips and stir to evenly distribute. If mixture is still too dry (this can depend on your ingredients) add more peanut butter or honey 1 tablespoon at a time until moistened. [this is why mine were so crumbly - add more honey to make it more moist]

Using a spatula or your hands, press dough evenly in a greased (non-stick spray) 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes.

I used more peanut butter than recommended… next time I would use a little more honey and a little less peanut butter.

I hope you're addicted to granola like I am!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Push To Run

Remember in middle school when you had to run a timed mile?
Remember that girl who alternated running and walking laps?
Remember when she reached the end, panting and sweating, yet elated that she completed the mile without puking or dying?
Yeah… that was me.
It’s not that I was out of shape. See, I was a dancer; I had a different type of stamina. “Out of shape” wouldn’t be the right term. Don’t believe me? Dance in these for a few hours and we’ll chat after.

Convinced? Great. So, I was in fact in shape. Unfortunately, when I stopped dancing during my first year of college, I stopped exercising. Somehow I managed not to gain the freshman (or sophomore, or junior) 15, but I did become out of shape. Very out of shape. So, the summer after junior year I faced my fears. I started going to the gym. It was pathetic. But I kept going and eventually I was addicted. I did this wonderful workout with my father and started doing the elliptical and bike for cardio. Loved it. Still love it.
So now, a year later, I’ve decided to mix things up and face yet another fear. Running. I still cringe a little when I hear the word, but somehow, as a 22 year old, running isn’t so bad. Maybe it’s because there is less pressure on me, maybe it’s because I chose to conquer the fear, maybe it's because I’m doing it so I can eat reese’s peanut butter rice krispies brownies.
Thank you bakergirl for providing me with the recipe that pushed me to overcome my hatred of running.

So either go do the Spartacus workout or go run a mile and then eat one of these. It all works out in the end. I promise.

"Peanut Butter Cup Crunch Brownies"
Source: Bakergirl & Brown Eyed Baker

1 batch of your favorite brownie recipe for a 9x13-inch pan
1/2 cup salted peanuts
8 Reese's peanut butter cups, chopped
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies cereal

Prepare the brownies according to the directions and bake for about 5 minutes less than the recipe states. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the top with the peanuts and chopped peanut butter cups. Return to the oven and bake for 5 additional minutes.

While they finish baking, melt the chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.

Stir in the cereal to evenly coat. Remove the brownies from the oven and evenly pour the chocolate and peanut butter mixture over the top. Spread to cover evenly. Refrigerate for 2 hours before cutting and serving. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Try not to make a mess like I did...

But if you do it's okay. They're worth it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I Prefer My Fruit Topped with Booze

I've shared my love of baking.  I've bragged about my zebra shoes.  Now what about the booze?

I love Captain Morgan Spiced Rum.  I love it in coke, I love it in ginger ale, I love it in hot cider, I love it in french toast (thats a recipe for another day!). I love it.

Side Note: my love of Captain Morgan ≠ a drinking problem. :)
A few rainy days ago, I was lounging on the couch reading, when my mind drifted to food (shocker).  My bank account is looking a little sad from the past two semesters of school, so I decided to create something with what I could find in the kitchen.  I don’t typically make up my own recipes, so I made something simple and it turned out to be a keeper!
How do you make drunk bananas?  Like this!:

4 tsp Captain Morgan Spiced Rum (or any spiced rum… I guess)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 banana sliced lengthwise
Combine the spiced rum, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, and brown sugar in a small bowl.  Pour over the banana.  Broil for 3-5 minutes (until a little bubbly).  
My grandmother’s wonderful suggestion:
Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Make a little (or a lot) extra sauce to pour over the ice cream.

I would have taken a prettier picture…. But I ate them instead.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

How It All Began

Let me tell you a little about my history in cooking and baking.
It all started when I was 5 years old.  I had a strange fascination with Martha Stewart Living and Victoria.  Neighbors, friends, and family would all stop by to drop off magazines for me to sift through.  I would cut out everything beautiful, littering the living room floor with photos of decadent desserts and dream kitchens, creating a collage of everything I desired.  I can’t make this stuff up.
Fast forward 11 years.  Ahh, sixteenth birthdays.  What presents does a typical 16 year old girl wish for on her big day?  Jewelry, clothes, accessories.  What did I want? Anything to do with the kitchen and cooking.  Naturally, my 16th birthday was cooking themed.  After opening presents, I stood, staring in awe at the heap of kitchen supplies.  I was overjoyed by the fact that I had my own ladle, garlic press, whisks, spices, and more and more and more.  Now it may not seem normal to outsiders, but to me it was the best birthday I could have dreamed of.
So have I gotten any more normal as a 22 year old?  Most would say no.  The only thing different is that I have a second obsession.  Equally as intense, equally as important.  What is this obsession, you might ask?  SHOES!  So.. below are 2 things that make me a very, very happy girl.  
I rocked these shoes on my graduation day.  Which was… 6 days ago.  My whole outfit was planned around these fantastic shoes.
In the spirit of reminiscing, here is a recipe that I remember well from my childhood.  I loved this bread when I was younger and I love it even more now.  It is super easy to make and soo good! Heat it up with a little cream cheese on it and it is delicious.
I got the recipe from a book called Coffee Cakes and Quick Breads by Renny Darling. Written in 1985 :)
Old-Fashioned Banana Chocolate Chip Bread
¼ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup butter, softened
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ cups flour
Pinch of salt
1 cup coarsely mashed bananas (about 2 small bananas)
1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
“Stir together the sour cream and soda and set aside.  Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in sour cream mixture.  Stir in the remaining ingredients until dry ingredients are just blended.  Do not overmix.
Divide the mixture between 3 greased mini-loaf pans (6x3x2 inches) and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes, or until a cake tester, inserted in the center, comes out clean.  Allow to cool in pans for 15 minutes and then remove from pans and continue cooling on rack.  Yields 3 mini-loafs.”
 Go make it and eat it!  And then go shoe shopping.