Friday, January 28

Dessert of the Week-- Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

Okay, so after my awesome success of Triple Chocolate Fudge Brownies, I wanted to try something with peanut butter. My father-in-law loves peanut butter, so I was hoping to do something he would like. Now while I think this recipe is in need of some tweaking, it is still Yumm!!! I'll let ya know what he thinks about them. :)

Let's begin!
Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
5 eggs, divided
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar, divided
4 oz unsweetened chocolate baking pieces
1 can (1 1/4 cup) sweetened condensed milk
8 Tbsp butter, melted, divided
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup peanut butter, chunky
1 1/2 cups peanut butter chips

   Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9x9-inch cake pan. Set aside.
    In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and unsweetened cocoa powder. Set aside.

   In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk three (3) eggs until well combined. It'll be a nice daffodil yellow (as pictured). Once you have whisked the eggs for a couple minutes, add in 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar and 1 cup granulated sugar.

   Still with the whisk attachment, whisk until the sugars are well combined into the eggs and is a creamy consistency. Set aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave peanut butter chips and 4 Tbsp butter. Heat at 30-second intervals, stirring after each time.

In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, 
beat together the peanut butter
and 2 eggs until creamy.
 Once creamy, beat in the melted peanut butter chips and butter. 
When all ingredients have been incorporated, beat on low
speed and add in the 1 cup of Heath Bar baking bits.

   Okay, set this aside too. I know, the bowls are piling up on the counter. It is all part of the process, I promise!

   Now it is time to formulate the fudgie chocolatey goodness of these brownies.

In a double boiler, or a metal mixing bowl over a pot of boiling water, melt the unsweetened
chocolate baking pieces and sweetened condensed milk over medium heat.

   Once the chocolate is completely melted and stirred together with the sweetened condensed milk, take the bowl off of the heat. Stir in the 4 Tbsp butter, 1 tsp vanilla, and the egg mixture we set aside earlier.

   Now stir in the flour mixture we whisked together in the very beginning.
   Stir just until all of the flour mixture has been incorporated.

   While the chocolate mixture is still warm (and therefore easy to pour and even out), pour about two-thirds (2/3) of the mixture into the prepared cake pan. Using a spoon or rubber spatula, even this layer out as best you can. Now reach over and grab the peanut butter mixture. In large spoonfuls, drop around the pan and then use the spoon or rubber spatula to spread out the peanut butter mixture over the chocolate layer.

   To get the swirl in there, use a long thin knife and make swirling motions around the pan--making sure to get to the peanut butter layer.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes. (Mine was just a smidge over-cooked on the crust, but still tasted fabulous!) When you pull it from the oven, you are looking for a "jiggle" in the middle. Let it mostly cool before diving in! :)

Look at that gooey peanut buttery and chocolate goodness! Yumm!!
(Bet you wish the screen was scratch-n-sniff.)

And dive in!! Enjoy with a nice scoop or two of vanilla bean ice cream!

Tuesday, January 25

CrockPot Tuesday: January 25th

I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that today is Tuesday, not Monday. We were lucky enough to have a three-day weekend with the hubby. It started off that he was just going to be going into work late so that he could come to the Parent-Teacher Conference Monday morning, but then he decided to make a whole day of it! What a treat!! It's funny, playing "hookie" for a day makes the time more special compared to the weekend when things sometimes just feel more stressful. Is it just me? Oh well.

Anyway, we had a pretty good weekend, too. Saturday the girls had a birthday party to attend, which was held at Monkey Joe's. Kyleigh and the birthday girl, as well as the other party attendees, had a great time. Abigail was somewhat unsure of the big inflatable bounce houses and preferred to stay in the party room playing with spoons. :) Sunday we hung out at Nate's parents' house, watched some football, and ate pizza. Yes, it was a good day. :) Monday, after the Parent-Teacher Conference, we went to the park to let the girls run around for a few minutes. Yes, it was cold outside but that is what coats and hats and gloves are for. Besides, just because it is cold out doesn't mean one doesn't need fresh air. Then grabbed some McDonald's for lunch (a rarity I assure you) at Nate's request and then down for naps. We topped the day off with going to a frozen yogurt bar in celebration of Kyleigh being dry two nights in a row! Then it was home and to bed...the girls were pretty tired out. It was a really great three-day weekend! :)

Which explains why today felt like Monday. Nate was home yesterday. So. Tuesday. Crock Pot day!! The last three or so weeks I've done stews. While it has been nice to have soul-warming stew, the girls have yet to actually eat their dinners on Tuesdays. Now I don't have a whole lot to throw into the slow cooker, so I decided to try my hand at some homemade baked beans. I'm still undecided as to whether or not I'll cut up some leftover hot dogs we have to give it more 'kid appeal' and I've also been considering adding a bit of rice to it...I'll let ya know.

Thing2 has woken up quite early from her nap and Thing1 has decided to not nap at all. It'll be a rocky afternoon/evening if they don't get back to sleep. *Fingers crossed* Besides, they get up now and I won't be able to finish this post till later tonight. I really enjoy naptimes for 2 reasons: 1)it is quiet; 2) I get to blog and check out foodie sites. So yes, major bummer that nobody is napping.

Homemade Baked Beans

or we could even go with Baked Bean "Stew"...but then I feel like I'm doing the same thing week after week.

We begin by preparing the dried cranberry beans. In a large pot, bring the beans to a boil in no less than 8 cups of water. Boil for 2 minutes then remove from heat and cover. Let it stand for one hour before use.

Now that the beans have sat, drain and rinse them and then add them to the CrockPot. 
Add in 1 small can of tomato paste, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1/4-1/3 cup molasses and 1/2 cup frozen chopped onion.

I had wanted to add in vegetable broth but I didn't have any, so I went with chicken broth. I used 3 cups of hot water with 3 teaspoons of chicken bouillon granules. Pour over the ingredients already in the CrockPot.
Now add in 1/4 cup cider vinegar. Followed by 1/4 tsp onion powder, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/4 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 1/2 tsp parsley.

Stir it all up, turn it on to low heat, cover, and let it go!


Here it is with about 90 minutes left before being done. It started out soupy, but cooked well to become thicker like baked beans should be.

Since we had leftover hot dogs in the fridge that weren't enough to be a meal unto themselves, I decided to slice them up and toss 'em in. They were in there for the remaining 90 minutes.

Now, what to do with those hot dog buns? Which, might I add, there were fewer buns left than there were hot dogs. How about using them for dipping sticks? Brilliant!

Slice them up, put them on a baking sheet and drizzle them with olive oil.

Now sprinkle on some kosher salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and parsley. Let it sit a bit before putting it into the oven to let the bread soak up the olive oil. Once you are ready, put the sheet into a preheated oven set at 300 degrees F and let them crisp up for about 10 minutes; longer if you want them crispier, more like giant croutons.

And dinner is served! Top each bowl with a dollop of Greek yogurt, shredded mozzarella cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, and a little more parsley. Serve with a side of the dipping sticks and enjoy! Yumm!!

Oh that's right! I can't believe I forgot! I have an alligator problem in my kitchen!!! haha 

Saturday, January 22

Dessert of the Week-- Kyleigh's Cupcakes

Fridays. Don't you just love Fridays? I've always loved Fridays, but now, having the dessert of the week gives me another reason to love Friday. This week, I let my Kyleigh choose the dessert. She picked cupcakes. :) We went with a yellow cake with a chocolate butter frosting. Since these were for her, I let her help decorate them before we gave them a try.

Let me back up a little. There is a little "background" story that goes with today's post. This past week, Kyleigh has been trying very hard to go through the night without a pull-up on. Since this is such a big deal for her, she has a special reward for making it to the morning with a dry bed and pajamas. While she hasn't been dry every morning, she did have a successful Thursday night. So for her reward on Friday, Kyleigh got to create the menu for dinner Friday. She picked tortellini with a butter sauce and gnocchi with a white sauce. For dessert, she wanted cupcakes and got to pick out whatever decorations she wanted for them. She got to pick out whatever she saw at the store because I had to go anyway to get the stuff for her dinner. Kyleigh chose heart-shaped strawberry-flavored marshmallows, red sugar sprinkles, and polka-dot cupcake papers. She even got to help bake them. The cakes were finished baking when we sat down to eat and therefore had sufficient time to cool. However, I hadn't had the chance to whip up any frosting. Well, it's Friday and we all get to sleep in in the morning and Nate wasn't coming home anytime why not let the girls stay up late for cupcakes? After dinner the girls played while I whipped up some chocolate frosting and iced a few of the cupcakes. Then it was time to put on jammies. The girls then got settled at the table and I brought over the heart-shaped marshmallows, red sugar, and a plate of iced cupcakes. Boy were the girls excited! So here are the recipes and pictures from Kyleigh's Cupcakes.

recipe found in The Good Housekeeping Cookbook
makes about 24 cupcakes

      2 cups all-purpose flour
      2 tsp baking powder
      1 tsp salt
      1/2 cup butter, softened
      1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
      3 large eggs
      1 tsp vanilla extract
      1 cup whole milk

   Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pans with paper baking cups. Set aside.
   In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

   In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter. Once the butter is soft, beat in the sugar on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. 
   After about 5 minutes, still on medium speed, beat in the eggs one at a time. Make sure to beat well after each addition. Once all 3 eggs have been added and are well combined, beat in the vanilla.

   Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Now it is time to add the flour mixture and milk alternately. Be sure to begin and end with the flour mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl frequently, and beat just until smooth.

   Since I don't have one of those fun cookie scoops, I used the 2 Tablespoon measure spoon to spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups. Works well, too.
   Bake at 350 degrees F for 22 minutes. Cool in the pans that have been set on wire racks for a bit then turn the pans out onto the racks to finish cooling.

 Look good, don't they? 

I can't forget to post the picture Kyleigh took of her lunchbox. :)

 After I finished cleaning up dinner and the girls played, it was time to make some frosting. Chocolate. :)

3 oz unsweetened chocolate baking pieces
3 oz semi-sweetened chocolate baking pieces
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract

   In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate together. I did mine in 30-second increments. Make sure to check on it after each interval and stir it up. Chocolate is easily burned so don't over-heat it. Set aside to let it cool a bit.
   In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until it is creamy. Beat in the confectioners' sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until well combined.
   While still on medium speed, beat in the melted chocolate. Turn the speed up to medium-high and let it go for about 5 minutes. You want it to be light and fluffy while forming stiff peaks when you lift the paddle up.

Cupcakes are cooled and the icing is made. Kyleigh has been impatiently waiting for the time try the pink heart-shaped marshmallows and red sugar sprinkles. Everything is arranged in my orderly fashion ready to pretty up these cupcakes.

I had a vision for these cakes so after snipping off a corner of a Ziplock bag, I fitted it with a star tip.
Pink strawberry heart-shaped marshmallows.
Red sugar sprinkles.

After getting everything in order, I filled my bag with the Chocolate Butter Frosting and went to work.

And shortly after getting the hang of it, voila! 

 The girls are in their jammies and seated at the table waiting. I carried over the plate of iced cupcakes, the heart marshmallows, and red sugar sprinkles. 

They sure did go fast. :)

Here is Kyleigh's masterpiece!

Here is the first one I decorated, then ate.
And the girls devouring their cupcakes!

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the color inside the cakes! Okay, Kyleigh originally asked for pink cupcakes but spacey me forgot to put coloring into the batter. After I put the first pan in the oven, Kyleigh asked when we were going to make them pink. I definitely smacked my forehead on this one. To make it up to her, I dipped a toothpick into the pink Wilton food coloring. I then proceeded to swirl it in the batter that had already been spooned into the second pan, which was still awaiting its turn in the oven. She was happy to bite into the cake and find pink swirls. Good save, Mom!! :)

While the girls took the time to savor their scrumptious cupcakes, I needed to find something to do to keep myself from eating another...and possibly yet another. So I decorated the rest of the cupcakes on the plate and then to keep myself busy still, I took pictures. 

Side Note: By the way, I am really enjoying my new Kitchenaid Stand Mixer! My hubby and in-laws went in together to get it for me for Christmas and it has a permanent spot out on my counter--a coveted spot, mind you. The other small kitchen appliances were very jealous of this immediate high stature. ;) 
My mother in law also gave me a silicone Food Network baking sheet!! I was so excited! I LOVE using this thing!! She said she figured she couldn't go wrong if it said Food Network on it. Good call. :)
Pin It

Foodie Blog Roll Ad