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The more I blog about food, the more I realize the virtue in simplicity. When I first started blogging about food, I tried to be “out there” and “different” with my recipes, which sometimes worked in my favor and sometimes didn’t. Over the years, I have come to realize that food is better when the natural flavors are vividly present. Food photography is far more attractive when there’s not 20 props in the shot. Seeing food in a more natural state is so much more appealing than when it’s edited to oblivion and covered with cutesy clip-art images.
That is not to say that I don’t like to try crazy recipes or eat foods with more complex flavors. The best part about food is that it is so versatile and that options are limitless. However, food is also better when it complements each other, not just when a bunch of delicious foods are thrown together. I like pizza and ice cream, but does that mean I want pizza ice cream? (The answer is no if you haven’t guessed already).
The whole point of ramble is that food is amazing and can definitely be an outlet for creativity; but that doesn’t mean that it has to be insanely complex. Sometimes, I just want a regular brownie. Not a cheesecake brownie. Not an orange-and-thyme-infused brownie (not a real thing, but it could be). Just a brownie.
When you are in the mood for Just a Brownie, this is the go-to recipe. Please don’t go to the store and buy a boxed mix, because odds are, you already have brownie ingredients in your home, and these are so much better. They also only take 15 minutes to put together (I timed it). After the batter is made, all you have to do is wash the 3 dishes the recipe requires and watch an episode of Seinfeld, and the brownies are already done!
Your mission this weekend, should you choose to accept it, is to make these brownies. Brownies are the perfect Sunday project without a huge time commitment (did I already mention that they only take 15 minutes to mix together), and they come out tasting pretty much like fudge mixed with cake. I’d highly recommend serving them with ice cream, but that’s just one girl’s opinion on the matter…
Also, I threw some walnuts and hazelnuts on top of mine, because I’m a professional, but you definitely don’t have to.
*Song of the Day: Something Good This Way Comes by Jakob Dylan
If you follow my Instagram, then you probably know that I promised a recipe with vanilla beans. You also probably know that I have an obsession with vanilla beans that can only be compared to Gollum’s relationship with the ring. *ahem* However, do not fret if you don’t have vanilla beans just laying around the house (most people don’t). You can substitute with real vanilla extract or paste.
If you need a quick Valentine’s Day dessert that seems kind of fancy (but you don’t want to try too hard) this is it. Crème brûlée seems daunting, but it’s actually so, so easy. Take it from me, since this is my first attempt, and it turned out *very successfully*. Plus, it only takes about 15 minutes to put together and uses 4 ingredients.
I hope you end your Valentine’s Day with crème brulee and your special human.
*Song of the Day: Indian Summer by Beat Happening
Raise your hand if it’s only December 5, and you’re already tired of peppermint chocolate bark.
As much as I love December and all the food that comes with it, I get bored of the peppermint chocolate bark you inevitably get offered 1,000 times between Christmas parties, work, and everywhere else ever. Chocolate + crunchy crushed peppermints is tired, but luckily, rocky road isn’t.
The best part of this recipe is that you don’t necessarily have to measure the ingredients, so you can kind of just throw everything down on a piece of foil or waxed paper and walk away for a little while. If holiday baking is not your thing, this is the best way to contribute.
Have a Merry Christmas ♥
*Song of the Day: Horchata by Vampire Weekend*
This is not a drill. I repeat. This is not a drill. I successfully finished a holiday recipe–complete with pictures!–before said holiday actually happened. I think I can officially call myself a food blogger now. Huzzah and let the merriment begin!
(Or something along those lines).
This weekend was Friendsgiving, which I still believe is a fairly new thing, or maybe I’m just becoming an adult. Anyways, I was told to bring dessert, as I normally am, and so obviously I had to make stereotypical Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.
Growing up, my family always had chocolate pies at Thanksgiving, because many of my family members do not like pumpkin. Therefore, I always thought that chocolate pies were a common American Thanksgiving tradition. It wasn’t even that long ago that somebody clued me in on the fact that many people have never even had chocolate pie. While this news deeply saddens me, I promise to post my chocolate pie recipe soon, and in the meantime, you should make this pumpkin pie.
The recipe itself is kind of a fluke. While looking up pumpkin pie recipes, I realized that I didn’t have most ingredients that almost everyone uses in pumpkin pie. In my mind, all I needed was a can of pumpkin and some common household ingredients to get this thing rollin’. Sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, B grade maple syrup, freshly grated ginger? Who has these ingredients just laying around their house? In the midst of extreme laziness and procrastination, I decided against trekking to the grocery store in my pajamas at 11 p.m., and set out to create my own recipe. It came out surprisingly delicious and it only takes about 20 minutes to whip up! I got a standing ovation and everything. Sometimes being irresponsible and unprepared really pays off!
The pie can be made a day in advance (I actually think pie is better when it’s been sitting for a day), so all you have to do on the day of Thanksgiving is whip the cream, which can be made in 4 minutes if your mixer has the will to do so and also if you don’t mind splatters.
P.S. Tin pie pans are great for Friendsgiving (inebriated friends + glass pie pans = disaster, in case you’re wondering).
P.P.S. If you’re interested in the velvet pumpkins, my aunt makes them! You can buy them on her etsy site. She also makes little acorns! They’re super cute for fall decorating 🙂
*Song of the Day: People Help the People–Birdy
Have you ever had one of those days where you feel like nothing goes right?
And then you realize that literally everything you’re sad about is just a bunch of first-world problems, and nothing is actually wrong and you’re just being a princess about everything…?
Because I had that kind of day on Friday.
First, I woke up really early (at like, 6 a.m. On my day only day off…) and could literally hear my next door neighbor’s TV. Please note: I live in a house. Not an apartment. Not a condo. A house. And I could hear their TV. Because only at 6 a.m. do I have superpower hearing. After laying in bed staring at the wall for a few hours, I got up and *attempted* to do my hair and makeup, but no matter what I did, I looked like a hot mess. After about 1 1/2 hours, I finally was able to make myself look how I do every single day. It just took twice as long.. I finally decided that I would grab lunch and watch movies. But then I dropped my lunch on the ground 1 bite in (and ate it anyways because at that point, I had no limits). I also couldn’t find half of my Disney movies. So to solve that problem, I had a meltdown.
I am almost 20 years old and I cried over not being able to find my Disney movies.
Eventually, I decided to go grab a coffee, talked to a cute barista, and ended up at an 80’s party wearing a Risky Business costume.
The day ended up pretty great, and I realized that I just needed to take a deep breath, and understand that my problems were really not that bad.
Because they weren’t.
But they were kind of funny and now you can mock me a little.
Plus, I had these sitting in my fridge, so how bad could my day really be?
Since I know most of you are probably thinking, “What’s a nanaimo bar”, here’s a brief history:
The Nanaimo bar was invented in none other than Nanaimo, Canada. That’s about all I know. The actual dessert is made up of 3 layers. The first is a no-bake crust made with chocolate, nuts, coconut, and graham crumbs. The second layer is traditionally a custard buttercream, and it’s topped with chocolate.
But since it’s Girl Scout Cookie season (because obviously that’s a season), I decided to make them using Somoa cookies. Which already have chocolate, coconut, and a graham-like texture.
Plus caramel which is never a bad thing.
As previously stated, traditional nanaimo bars have a custard buttercream filling. Which is really good, but really rich, and really sweet. To make it a little less dense, I decided to make a swiss meringue buttercream filling. And add caramel to enhance the Somoa theme.
Result = something you need to make now.
Note: Please don’t be scared. 3 layers sounds like a lot. Swiss meringue buttercream sounds intimidating. SO NOT. These are very easy and don’t require that much time. Be brave, bakers.
1/2 c. unsalted butter
3 Tbs. sugar
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 c. Samoa cookie crumbs, crushed + 1/2 c. chopped roughly for garnish
1/2 c. almonds, chopped
1 c. sweetened coconut
3 egg whites
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. caramel sauce, homemade or store bought
4 oz. baking chocolate
1 Tbs. butter
For the bottom layer, melt the butter, sugar, and cocoa on the stove over medium heat. When it’s combined, mix 1/4 cup of the mixture into the egg to temper. Add egg mixture back to the chocolate mixture and stir over the heat until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in Samoa crumbs, almonds, and coconut. Press into a greased 8×8 or 8×11 baking pan. Freeze for 20-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 1-2 inches of water in a medium sized sauce pan on the stove until it starts to simmer. In a heat-proof mixing bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar. Place mixing bowl on top of the sauce pan and stir the mixture until a candy thermometer reads 140-150* F. Remove from heat, and whip egg mixture until stiff peaks form and mixture is cooled. Add butter, 1-2 Tbs. at a time until frosting forms. If it appears curdled, keep beating until it forms, or add butter 1-2 Tbs. at a time until the texture is creamy and smooth. Add vanilla extract, salt, and caramel sauce. Pour mixture and spread evenly over the crust layer. Refrigerate until buttercream is firm.
While the buttercream firms, heat the chocolate and butter over low heat until melted. Spread chocolate evenly over firm buttercream layer. Sprinkle chopped cookies over the top, and refrigerate until chocolate is hardened. Cut into bars, or bite sized pieces. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Makes 16 large bars or 64 bite sized pieces.
I hope you all had a wonderful Sunday. I laid in bed until 11, went to my favorite coffee place, and watched Friends for hours.
What did you do?
*Song of the Day: Pedestrian at Best–Courtney Barnett
Merry Christmas Eve my lovely readers!
I hope your Christmas Eve (and Christmas) are beautiful and I hope you get to drink lots of wine. Or eggnog if that’s your thing.
I really recommend the wine…
These cookies are really special ♥
They have tons of cranberries and white chocolate in them, and I promise you, they do not taste like raisins.
Raisins=no but craisins=yes.
Especially with white chocolate in oatmeal cookies.
When I was really little, and my mom and one of her best friends (whose recipe this is) would make the oatmeal cookies around Christmas time. And I would watch. And color my coloring books. And help when they would let me. These cookies were always one of my favorites, but my dad’s favorite is chocolate chip, and he would normally win the cookie battle when my mom asked, “What kind of cookies should I make?”. Anyway, this year I decided to make them and add the white chocolate and cranberries, since it’s Christmas and all.
I’ll be taking a blogging break tomorrow, but I want to leave you with a few more recipes in case you want to make some last minute cookies tomorrow, or even After Christmas cookies!
(After Christmas cookies are definitely a thing).
1 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. butter, softened
1/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar–packed
1 small package instant vanilla pudding
3 1/2 c. oats
1 c. white chocolate chips
1/2 c. dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 375* F. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda. Cream butter, sugars, and pudding together in a separate bowl. Beat until smooth and creamy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Gradually add flour mixture. Stir in oats, white chocolate chips, and cranberries. Scoop in to 1 inch balls and bake for 10-12 minutes. They will seem very soft, so let them cool slightly on the baking sheet before removing. Enjoy!
I just love how pretty and festive they are, plus they’re sooo good.
Have a beautiful, wonderful, amazing Christmas.
Song of the Day: I’ll Be Home for Christmas–She & Him