Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Artpark Brownies

I've been working on making some changes in my life.  The biggest, and change I'm most nervous and excited about, is my recent career change.  I've been feeling a little ambivalent about architecture lately.  I still love architecture and design, and I think I always will.  At the same time, however, this little interest I have for food and writing and such has been growing more and more over the last few months.  It's grown so much, that the thought of going back to graduate school to study architecture was just not sitting well with me anymore.  I figured that the best course of action would be to step aside from architecture for a bit and try something new for a while.  I embraced this decision whole-heartedly, and I actually landed a job at Random House, to work with the Clarkson Potter editorial team. I started this week, and while it's a major change, it's a change I'm very happy with so far.  I can't say I'm completely sure I know what I'm doing or where I'm planning on going with all of this, because I don't know, but I'm excited to find out and see what happens.

I've been reading a lot more food-related books lately, and I'm hoping to grow a nice little collection to match my growing cookbook collection.  One of the books I recently finished reading is Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table.  In this book, Ruth Reichl, a well-known food writer, shares memorable moments from her life and details how she came to love food.  The book is charming and funny, and makes you love food just as much as she does.  Scattered throughout her stories are the recipes from the defining moments in her life, and the recipe for these Artpark Brownies caught my eye immediately.  Ruth's brownies were known for being "the best in the world," so I knew that this was one recipe I had to try for myself.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Buttermilk and Banana Pancakes

Today is the day my sister returns to college, ready to start her sophomore year. My parents have the car all packed up with her things, ready for the long drive ahead of them, and she's ready to face the chilly weather of New Hampshire all over again.  I'm sending my sister off to college with a stack of banana pancakes in her belly, because what kind of sister and blogger would I be if I didn't supply hearty and delicious breakfasts, right?  It's funny that I chose to make banana flavored pancakes, of all things.  When my sister arrived home from college for the summer, I welcomed her with banana nut muffins; now that she's leaving, she's moving on with banana pancakes.  I guess my sister goes bananas for bananas. 

I happen to love baked banana treats too.  Muffins and banana bread are fantastic, and I even love a good banana cake, but I think pancakes would have to be my favorite way to work with bananas.  For some reason, they just make me think of my childhood.  I say, "for some reason," because I didn't really grow up eating pancakes.  I was a waffle-girl, 100%, and I would never trade a waffle for a pancake.  I think that whenever I did happen to have pancakes sitting in front of me, they were either of the banana or chocolate chip variety. While I can't really pinpoint how I ended up loving banana pancakes as much as I do, or why they make me think of myself as a kid, the moral of the story is that I love a good banana pancake. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Can I confess something to you all?  I had never actually had the chocolate-chip-cookies-and-milk combination until yesterday.  Actually, I'd never had cookies of any kind with milk before, to be perfectly honest.  I didn't really drink milk as a kid, because it always upset my stomach (thankfully, this never happened with ice cream or cheese), and while I can drink milk now, I usually don't, just out of habit I think.  I've photographed many different cookie recipes for the blog, and they're almost always accompanied by a nice tall glass of milk.  Whenever the time came to taste the cookies in question for the photos, I would always take a bite out of the cookies, and pour just a bit of the milk back into its container, to pretend like I actually took a sip myself.  At the end of the photo shoot, all the remaining milk in the glass would go back into the milk carton, or I'd give it to my sister to drink. This is how I always photographed my cookies and milk, until yesterday, when I photographed these Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. 

I really wanted to try a new approach to photographing my cookies and milk.  I took a few shots with the standard glass, of course, but I also wanted to try a few shots with spilled milk.  I had no idea how those photos would come out, but I ended up really liking them!  If you scroll down for the recipe, you'll see what I'm talking about.  In that photo, some of the cookies got pretty soaked in milk, so I figured it would be as good a time as any to finally try out the whole, "cookies and milk" phenomenon and see if it was actually as great as everyone claimed it was. To my big surprise, I ended up liking the combination!  I still prefer my cookies when they're not dipped in milk, purely for textural reasons, but I can see myself dipping them in milk on occasion from now on, especially now that I've found this amazing recipe for chocolate chip cookies.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Blueberry Cornbread Buckle

Here's another short post for this week for those of you who are still hanging on to the last days of summer- Blueberry Cornbread Buckle!  A buckle, in case you don't know, is a single layer cake that is topped with fruit and a streusel crumb topping.  The fruits sink into the cake as the cake bakes, and the streusel gives the cake a buckled appearance when it comes out of the oven.  This buckle uses my favorite summer flavor combination of corn and blueberry to make a delicious rustic dessert.

The cornbread cake can be made with just a bowl and a hand-mixer, and it comes together very quickly. There's nothing unusual about it; it's just a straightforward cake.  The cake batter is poured into a square pan and topped with sugared blueberries, and is followed by a generous sprinkling of a quick streusel topping. About an hour or so in the oven, and dessert is ready!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Lemon Lemon Loaf Cake

Hello, and Happy Labor Day!  It's hard to believe that the summer is officially over, because it feels like it never really even arrived.  We had a mild summer, at least in New York, so it  hasn't quite hit me that the summer is ending and that fall and cooler weather will be coming in just a few short weeks.  It's even stranger to think that because I'm not in New York right now, but am actually in Florida!  My parents are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary (today!) and they wanted to take a family vacation to celebrate.  We'll be in Florida for a week to do the typical Florida vacation at Disney World and Universal Studios, and I am pretty excited.  It's been a long time since I've been at the parks, so I can't wait to see how much they've changed.  When I found out that we'd be in Florida for the first night of Disney's Halloween celebration at Magic Kingdom, I basically turned into a five year old, freaked out, and begged my parents that we absolutely had to go.  Fortunately, my mom is as much of a Disney freak as I am, so it was a pretty easy task.  Since I'll be adventuring across the various magical lands of Disney and Harry Potter (the ten year old in me CAN'T WAIT), I'm going to make this week's posts short and sweet.  There will be lots of pictures and only a few words, but I'll be sure to document my adventures closely on Instagram, so stay tuned to that!

Before I leave my computer though, let's take a second to talk about this Lemon Lemon Loaf Cake.  It's something special, truly.  My sister spied this lemony loaf in my copy of Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, and has been asking me to make it for the longest time.  Since the summer is almost over and I'm not quite ready to bid farewell to summer flavors, I figured I would make one last bright treat.  This lemon loaf cake was exactly what I needed!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cereal Treats

Summer is officially winding down, can you believe it? It's that back to school time of year again, and I know many people have already gotten started, or are about to start in the coming weeks.  I always loved going back to school, and I loved it until the real heavy workloads started getting piled on.  When I was little though, I loved heading back to school and getting all of my stuff ready, whether it was my "first day of school outfit," or my school supplies, or picking out a new lunchbox.  A lot of thought needed to be put into the lunchbox! It had to be cool and pretty, and at the same time, meet my mom's standards for efficiently transporting my lunch from home to school without a disaster happening.  My mom would usually pack me a sandwich, a juice box, a fruit, and a sweet treat for dessert or snack time.  My favorite were the Little Bites Mini Muffins and Brownies, but every now and then she'd swap in a Rice Krispy treat, which I also really looked forward to. 

These Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cereal Treats are a throwback to one of my favorite lunchbox snacks. Back in the day, I only ever tried the plain Rice Krispy treats (did they have other varieties back then? I don't even know), so this chocolatey version was a very welcome change.  I used Cheerios, but you can use whichever cereal you like and change the flavorings to what suits you the most.  They're highly adaptable and incredibly easy to make, so they're a great make-ahead treat option for your little one's lunchbox (or for bringing along to work!).  For more pics and the full recipe, head on over to the Make and Takes blog!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Salted Chocolate Diablo Ice Cream Sandwiches

Oh man do I have a treat for you guys today.  Well, I should rephrase that.  I have a treat for my fellow choc-aholics today.  Behold these incredible little ice cream sandwiches.  Super rich, super fudgy, super dense chocolate cookies sandwiching smooth vanilla ice cream.  It's an already out of this world combination that gets even better, if you can believe that.  These chocolate cookies also have an added kick from a touch of freshly grated ginger and cayenne pepper, making these ice cream sandwiches the ultimate grown-up version of your favorite kiddie ice cream snack.  

I discovered these little ice cream sandwiches while browsing through my Instagram feed.  One thing led to another, and I found myself on The Artful Desperado's page, and these cookies caught my attention immediately.  I'm chocolate-obsessed, and these sandwiches looked too incredible for me to merely bookmark and save for later.  I saw them, and knew I needed to make them as soon as I could.   The cookies embodied all of my most favorite things:  tons of dark chocolate, sea salt, and ginger.  Adding a little vanilla ice cream to the mix and calling it a day is what sold me on the cookies though.  I absolutely love when seemingly disparate flavors and sensations come together, so I knew that these ice cream sandwiches, with their chocolate-spice and hot-cold features would be right up my alley.

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