Saturday, December 15, 2012

Love Actually is All Around

Cream Cheese Brownies


"Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there..."

It's been a rough couple of days for everyone, so I thought it might be nice to share these words of hope and wisdom from one of my favorite holiday movies of all time, Love Actually. Just the other night, I was baking some cream cheese brownies with a dear friend of mine, thinking of how lucky we were to just be laughing, baking, and enjoying life's simple pleasures for a couple of hours. If you're reading this, I hope you take a moment to tell someone you love how much they mean to you. Happy Holidays and may the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows!

Here's the original recipe for the brownies. All credit goes to Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen. She's a genius!



For those innocent sweethearts gone too soon: 

Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, Your Long Journey


Love Always,
Rukh

Monday, October 29, 2012

American Horror Story Pumpkin Blondies!!!

Pumpkin Blondies with Chocolate Chips & Caramel
Hello lovelies!  I've returned with a simple and positively decadent recipe in honor of our favorite terrifying television show, American Horror Story.  For those of you unfamiliar with it, (and those of you able /willing to stomach being thoroughly creeped out by an hour of TV a week), American Horror Story is an horror anthology series conceived by none other than Glee maestro, Ryan Murphy.  Each season features a new "horror story" and a different cast, (although some fierce favorites stick around from season 1 to play new characters...Diva Lange and Evan Peters among other talented folk, I'm lookin' at ya)!  WARNING: If you decide to watch this show, please know that it's incredibly disturbing and scary for someone like me.  After each episode, I watch five minutes of Parks & Rec or some other funny business to shake off the creepiness.

Also, despite all the disturbing plots, the show's incredibly addictive!  Mr. Murphy assembles a top-notch cast, (with a whole lot of theatre veterans, hollaaaa), who always meet the challenge of making this crazy material both believable and compelling. So, if you find yourself watching mini-marathons of the first and second seasons, don't say I didn't warn you!  Now, without further ado, I give you Pumpkin Blondies. A sweet co-worker of mine recommended the recipe off this website:


http://www.laurenslatest.com/ooey-gooey-caramel-pumpkin-blondies-with-chocolate-and-walnuts/

I take zero credit for this recipe...it's all goes to the baking diva that runs that site.  The only adjustment I made was in the type of vanilla extract I used: Trader Joe's has this amazing vanilla bourbon extract.  Maybe it's the Louisville, Kentucky girl in me, but I think it's phenomenal!

The official website for American Horror Story, courtesy FX networks:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Here's to the lovers, the dreamers, (and you)! Happy Birthday Jim Henson!

Someday, we'll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers , the dreamers, and me 

Once again, it has been far too long! Life just got a little crazier, (in a good way), so I have not had as much time to share yummy new recipes, but fear not: I have returned with an excellent one from Diva Martha Stewart. The recipe is for these delightful little treats called Dream Bars: graham cracker crust, chocolate chips, coconut...what's not to love? Also, these bars fit perfectly into the theme of this recipe: celebrating one of my favorite dreamers of all time: Jim Henson. Jim Henson was the brilliant mind behind the Muppets, Sesame Street, The Labyrinth (hello David Bowie), and so many other puppet-centered projects. This week marked what would have been his 76th birthday. For those of you who don't know me that well: Jim Henson is my hero, (and I don't even work with puppets)!

Here's why: from all accounts, he was a super kind man (who also just happened to be an artistic genius). It warms my heart to know that he "made it" without being mean or cut-throat:  he was just a sweet guy that wanted to bring joy to people, and I am all about that! On a sidenote, if you have not already read it, I highly suggest taking a look at It's Not Easy Being Green: And Other Things to Consider. It's a collection of inspirational quotes by, for, and about Mr. Henson and his friends. I wholeheartedly believe his positive approach to work and life in general is something we could all learn from. Without further ado, here is the recipe:


This is all Martha Stewart. No copyright infringement intended:


I added a pinch of vanilla bourbon extract to the filling, and that was my only adjustment. I also suggest baking these with a friend: they're super rich and perfect for sharing, (I baked these with my lovely friend, Karen...hey girl hey)! Now go enjoy these and dream away!

Love Always,
Rukh 


The Rainbow Connection as sung by our favorite frog:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSFLZ-MzIhM

“I really do believe that all of you are at the beginning of a wonderful journey.As you start traveling down that road of life, remember this: There are never enough comfort stops. The places you're going to are never on the map. And once you get that map out, you won't be able to re-fold it no matter how smart you are. 


So forget the map, roll down the windows, and whenever you can pull over and have picnic with a pig. And if you can help it never fly as cargo.” --Jim Henson




Saturday, September 1, 2012

Dark Chocolate Brownies for The Night Circus

Night Circus Brownies!
Have you heard of The Night Circus? No, it's not a new movie starring Michael Fassbender (I wish), or a TV show. It's actually *drumroll please* a phenomenal book by Erin Morgenstern about two rival magicians growing up in the 1800s who fall in love, (yes it sounds a bit silly, but trust me, you'll love it). I got fifty pages in last night and had to force myself to put it down so I could get up in time for work! My lovely friend Saskia suggested it to me a long time ago and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it: it's full of eccentric characters, interesting plot twists, and of course, lots and lots of magic! So, in honor of said book (and in an attempt to get more people to read it), I give you: Night Circus Brownies.

What makes them Night Circus-y,  you ask? Well, there's dark chocolate in them...almost as dark as the night (yeah that's a little cheesy but bear with me here). I adapted the recipe from this one posted by   Baking Diva Deb Perelman over at Smitten Kitchen:

http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2012/08/my-favorite-brownies/

Here are my adjustments:

I used 3 ounces of dark chocolate, 72% cacao instead of unsweetened chocolate
I added 1 extra teaspoon of vanilla extract (and of course)
I added 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.

I also found that I had to bake my brownies just a tad bit longer in my oven, but other than that, I stuck to her recipe. The original recipe is all Deb Perelman, no copyright infringement intended! These brownies are super easy to make! Happy baking! Once you're done, get a copy of The Night Circus or if you're like me tonight, enjoy said treats with some good friends and a glass of wine.

Love Always,
Rukh

Erin Morgenstern's personal website for the book: http://erinmorgenstern.com/the-night-circus/

Monday, August 27, 2012

It's been a while, but I have returned with a little Wonderland magic...

Cocoa powder love!
I'm looking at the date of my last post...I can't believe it was over 2 weeks ago! What would the baking divas say?! Don't fret, I have returned with a simple, yet yummy little recipe that will take you all of 5 minutes, (maybe even less). This one's a little invention of mine that I call my "Tiramisu in a Teacup." Alice in Wonderland is one of my favorite animated films and since I'm having an Unbirthday Party in a couple of weeks, I thought I better start putting a fun menu together! This recipe came about a few weeks ago, when I was going to make some hot cocoa, with just a hint of coffee liqueur for kicks.

Suddenly (and quite sadly), I realized that it was just too hot outside for me to enjoy said drink: what was I to do? Well, in a moment of spontaneity, I decided to make the recipe, minus the heating-the-milk part. The result was a delightful little concoction with a bit of an edge, something that I'm sure the Mad Hatter would have loved to have at his tea parties in Wonderland. 

Ingredients

1 cup cold vanilla almond milk (or whatever milk you like. Just be sure to add a 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract to the recipe if you're using plain milk)
1-2 generous teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder (the particular amount depends on how much you want to stir in the milk and how much you want left over for dusting)
2 to 2.5 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon coffee liqueur
Cinnamon for dusting

Directions

(1) Stir cocoa powder and sugar into milk. It's okay if there's a small layer of cocoa powder left on top of the milk, (I actually like the contrast it gives to the milk, but if that's not your style, stir it in completely. Different strokes for different folks)!

(2) Stir in salt and coffee liqueur. Add cinnamon on top layer. Enjoy with a bit of nostalgic Wonderland whimsy:



Love Always,
Rukh








Friday, August 10, 2012

Golden Bars for The Golden Girls!


Golden Bars that Blanche, Rose, Dorothy, and Sophia would love!
I have yet another confession to make: anytime a Golden Girls rerun is on TV, I feel obligated to watch it, even the episodes I've seen too many times to count when Lifetime used to play them almost everyday, (and I should mention that this was before Betty White's fabulous comeback). I can't tell you how many times my mom and I stayed up way too late laughing at all the shenanigans of our favorite Floridian roomies! So, I decided to celebrate these ladybugs with a new chocolate chip-themed recipe. Yes, I know The Golden Girls were always having cheesecake nights and that there were few exceptions to this rule, but personally, I always thought the most important part of these dessert nights were the fact that they always involved women coming together to support one another. No matter what drama Blanche, Sophia, Rose, and Dorothy were going through, they always had each other's backs, (and kept us laughing while doing so).

It is with this sense of love and loyalty that I present my latest recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars.
The oats are optional if that's not your scene, but if you nix them, these bars will be more cake-like. Oh, and this is all Betty Crocker, no copyright infringement intended:
Here are my adjustments: I added 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (of course) and just a little extra bit of vanilla extract. I also opted to nix the nuts, but I'm sure they taste just wonderful in these treats! I must cheesily point out that I shared these Golden bars with some lovely friends at a fun girls' night, so this recipe is dedicated to them and all the fantastic ladies who take time out of their day to laugh together, share positive energy, and lift each other up.

As Marcel Proust once said, "Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." Cheers to you, lovelies!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Dark Knight's Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Brownie Bites: Say that five times fast!

Decadent The Dark Knight Rises-inspired goodies!

I have a confession to make: I'm a total Batman geek. Seriously, when I was little, I used to watch that old-school 90s cartoon. Back then, I just thought it was a fun Saturday morning activity, but looking back, I've come to appreciate that particular show for its dark, yet strangely compelling/intelligent undertones. Of course I've seen most of the film versions, (before the Christopher Nolan series, my fave was Tim Burton's vision, simply because I loved Michelle Pfeiffer's campy send-up of Catwoman). All that being said, the latest installments have all been pretty fantastic, too! This brings me to the latest chapter about our hero, (and sadly the last one directed by Nolan): I finally got to see The Dark Knight Rises today and it was spectacular!

I won't spoil anything for those of you who haven't seen it. All I will say is go see it now, seriously! 
Christian Bale is positively stunning in the role (and dreamy too of course) and the rest of the cast does a phenomenal job as well. Now on to this week's recipe: Decadent Dark Knight Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Brownie Bites, phew that's a long name, *wipes brow*. I got the recipe from Ms. Betty Crocker, no copyright infringement intended!

http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/peanut-butter-brownie-bites/3b9110f2-ea80-4867-b58f-11816c20b1a4

I will say that I made the peanut butter cookie dough from scratch as well as the brownies: I opted to use dark chocolate in the recipe, which can be found here at Better Homes and Gardens. I only made 1/2 of the dark chocolate brownie recipe, and trust me, I still have plenty of extra brownies left over! 

http://www.bhg.com/recipe/chocolate/dark-chocolate-brownies/

On another note, I feel like it wouldn't be right to speak about this movie without mentioning the awful tragedy in Aurora. Some friends and I were talking last night about how shameful it is that a place where people essentially go to dream was violated so senselessly and horrifically. I'm not going to mention the name of the person who committed this heartless and heinous act because frankly he doesn't deserve any more media attention, but I will give some love to this link:

Five Ways You Can Help the Aurora Shooting Victims Online:
http://mashable.com/2012/07/24/help-aurora-victims-online/

Now go enjoy a little dark chocolate yumminess while you help some sweet people out. Cheers to you for doing your part, and also to Mr. Nolan, (and Mr. Bale)! Thank you for bringing this incredible story to life: I for one enjoyed every minute of it! ;0)

Love Always,
Rukh


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cinnamon Coffee Cake, (if you're in L.A., go see The Egg Play)!

Cinnamon Coffee Cake for the fantastic cast and crew of The Egg Play
Hello lovelies! This is my first attempt at baking a coffee cake from scratch. I found the recipe on this baking diva's blog after I googled "yummy coffee cake." The picture from her blog looked the most scrumptious, so I took a chance: totally glad I did because she's a genius! Here's the recipe. No copyright infringement intended, this is all the work of one fabulous Mrs. Christy:

http://christyskitchencreations.blogspot.com/2009/02/cinnamon-coffee-cake.html


NOTE: I used 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, because let's be real: an extra teaspoon of vanilla goodness never hurt anyone.  I also nixed the walnuts, and might be adding some semi-sweet chocolate chips to the batch I make for my co-workers.

Why did I choose coffee cake you ask? Well, let's just say that some amazing, talented people, are embarking on the very first tour for their new theatre company, (some former fellow SMUers are involved so hollaback)! These amazing, talented people also probably need to keep their energy up while working on/performing said touring show, so I figured that I would give them a sweet treat to help them do just that! It also helps that a key ingredient in the recipe is in the play's title. So, if you're in the L.A., you should see Transient Theater's inaugural show, The Egg Play.  You can buy your tickets right here: http://www.transienttheater.com/

Oh, and you should jet set on getting those tickets! The show leaves LaLa land after Monday for its next destination and you don't want to miss it! Peace, love, and happy baking/theatre-going!

Love Always,
Rukh

P.S. R.I.P. Ms. Sylvia Woods, Queen of Soul Food. This cake's for you! 

The late and great Ms. Sylvia Woods' answer when asked about her secret ingredient to great soul food, (but I think this is the key to any kind of meaningful work so I thought I would share): "a little of this and a little of that and you mix it all together. But a whole lotta love has to go in it. If you don't have that, you have nothing at all."

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Breaking Bad Chocolate Chip Cookies, yo!

I know it's been forever and a day since I've updated, but I promise you the wait was worth it. For this post, I present you with *drumroll please* Breaking Bad Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Jesse would love these and probably share them with Mr. White because he's just cool/sweet like that
Yes, I already know that I have a Breaking Bad-inspired recipe on here, (see the Breaking Bad Derby Pie Tartlets post from a couple months ago). What I also know is that after an agonizing wait,  Breaking Bad returns tonight on AMC for its fifth and final season. If you haven't started watching this show, get on it: Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul are so incredibly gifted at bringing Walter White and Jesse Pinkman to life. The rest of the cast is stellar as well and don't even get me started on the writing...seriously, too many cliffhangers to count!

For those of you who are already on the bandwagon, (or for those looking for a non-traditional cookie recipe) celebrate with a little Pinkman-inspired cookie love: the secret ingredient once again is chili powder. If you're a newbie, you'll understand this once you start watching the show, *hint hint, wink wink, nudge nudge*! It gives the chocolate flavor a little bit of a kick. If that's not your style, you can just nix the chili powder and go for good old-fashioned chocolate chip cookies, (but come on, try it, yo)! For this recipe, I got some help from Betty Crocker. Here's the chocolate chip recipe I used straight from the website, no copyright infringement intended, this is all Betty!

http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/ultimate-chocolate-chip-cookies/77c14e03-d8b0-4844-846d-f19304f61c57

NOTE: I used 1 full tablespoon of vanilla extract because I love that stuff! I also added 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of Mexican Chili powder. I also opted for not adding nuts to the cookies, but I'm sure they would be equally good in this recipe!

I had to bake these cookies for a few minutes longer than the recipe called for: just make sure you take them out of the oven when they're still golden brown. If you keep them in there, then they could burn, and that would be bad news bears! Now go bake these and get ready for the last season: I'm sure it's going to be a twisted and amazing ride!

Check out the show's official page on AMC's website for more info: http://www.amctv.com/shows/breaking-bad

Happy baking/watching everyone!


Love Always,
Rukh

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Brownies inspired by the Fassbender!

Irish Cream Brownies!
If you know me and haven't been living under a rock, you know about one of my new favorite actors: Michael Fassbender! He's incredibly talented, showcasing his chameleon-like ability in films like Hunger, Inglorious Basterds, Shame, Prometheus, Fish Tank, A Dangerous Method, Jane Eyre, X-Men: First Class...okay you get it and I digress, but the list really goes on and on. He's also very easy on the eyes, so that doesn't hurt! Now, I was going to try and pick one of his many fantastic films to center my Irish Cream Brownies recipe upon, (Shame-ful Brownies, anyone? I kid, I kid, I would never disrespect the amazing work of Steve McQueen like that). Then I decided that there were just too many good movies Fassbender's been in to just choose one. Instead, I decided on a first for this blog: a recipe inspired by an actor.

Since Fassbender is half-Irish, I figured what better way to  honor him through baking than to incorporate Irish cream or coffee liqueur into an already fun brownie recipe? So without further ado, I present to you Irish Cream Brownies: Magneto approved! Go ahead and feel free to familiarize yourself with this guy. He seems kind of goofy in real life, which makes him even cooler to me.  The first interview is part of an on-going collection of "screen-tests" that Lynn Hirschberg of the NY Times conducts. If you're not a Fassbender fan, (please don't tell me), there's plenty of other fun interviews to choose from (Carey Mulligan, Natalie Portman, Vera Farmiga).

The second is from Charlie Rose's wonderful program. No copyright infringement intended, this is all Lynn Hirschberg and Charlie Rose! Oh, and you're welcome:

Lynn Hirschberg's Screen Tests:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQEi65xdl44

Fassbender with Diva Noomi Rapace, (she's a really fierce l'il cutie, too) on Charlie Rose promoting Prometheus:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpQY867nktw


Brownie Ingredients, (Adapted from this amazing Hershey's recipe: http://www.hersheys.com/pure-recipes/details.aspx?id=5008&name=Best+Brownies#share_modal )

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon Irish cream or coffee liqueur

Frosting ingredients

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 cups powdered sugar
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons almond milk (or 1-2 tablespoons regular milk)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons Irish cream or coffee liqueur

Directions for the Brownies

(1)Pr-heat oven to 350 degrees F
(2) In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars together.
(3) Stir in vanilla extract
(4) Add eggs and beat until well-incorporated
(5) Mix together flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt in a small bowl. Add this dry mixture to the batter.
(5) Stir in coffee liqueur and chocolate chips.
(6) Line 9-inch square pan with foil. Lightly coat with cooking spray. Pour batter into pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until fork stuck into center of the brownies comes out clean.
(7) Cool the brownies.

Directions for the Frosting

(1) Melt 3 tablespoons of butter.
(2) Add vanilla, cocoa powder, corn syrup, and powdered sugar. Mix thoroughly.
(3) Add milk, cinnamon, and coffee liqueur.
(4) After brownies have cooled, spread frosting on generously.

Enjoy and thank you again for reading!

Love Always,
Rukh




Sunday, June 24, 2012

Curious George's Banana Nut Bread!

Banana Nut Bread! Photo courtesy Megan Faillace
Banana Nut Bread! Photo courtesy Megan Faillace
Banana Nut Bread!
Did you love reading the Curious George books as a kid as much as I did, (and did you enjoy the cute cartoon version as well)? He was such a sweet, curious little monkey! In honor of him and the Man with the Yellow Hat, I present to you lovely blog readers: *drumroll please,* Curious George's Banana Nut Bread! Why? Well, because I'm pretty sure Mr. George had a fondness for bananas, and what better way to enjoy said bananas than baked into a yummy Martha Stewart recipe? I stuck to her genius, but added 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon:

http://www.marthastewart.com/312772/banana-bread

Oh, one more thing: I baked this amazing bread in a 9 inch square pan, and ended up only having to bake it for 35 to 40 minutes, a little less than the given baking time.  I'm more of a pecan than walnut girl, so I opted for those, but I'm sure either would be just great! Now go forth and bake, (and thank you for taking time out of your relaxing Sunday to read this, I truly appreciate it)!

Love Always,
Rukh

P.S. Here's a little 80s nostalgia for you, Curious George style; no copyright infringement shenanigans intended: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uTdnVNx-fE


Monday, June 18, 2012

Jurassic Park Cookie Cake!


Dinosaur Sprinkles!

Yup, I'm still thrilled about these neon-colored dinosaurs...
I have to be real: this is basically cookie dough baked in a cake pan topped with store-bought frosting/neon dinosaur sprinkles, (yes you read that correctly, neon dinosaur sprinkles)! I figured there was no harm in at least sharing the pictures, even if it's not my most original work. The recipe is the same one I used from another baking blog, but any wonderful cookie dough recipe should suffice: just be sure to keep an eye on the cookie cake as it's baking because you don't want it to burn! I added 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon to my cookie dough by the way, as I find that it kicks up the chocolate flavor (clever girl, five cool points to you if you get this reference). Use the frosting of your choice, (I went with Pillsbury classic vanilla and was quite pleased), and spread it on top of the cookie cake after it has completely cooled. If you're a sprinkle-person like me, add some lovely decorations on top!
I found these cute dinosaur sprinkles in a set at the grocery store. I hope you find them too: I'm sure your inner five year-old will rejoice in them as much as I did. Jurassic Park will always be a classic to me...I mean Jeff Goldblum was in it! If he's not cool in all his quirkiness, I don't know who is!  Now, I know this post is very short and sweet, but hey, at least you get to look at yummy dessert, right? Happy Monday!

NOTE: I used half of what the recipe called for cookie dough wise and baked it for about 20 to 25 minutes, (or until it's golden brown).You might have to bake it for a little longer depending on how much cookie dough you use or whether you have a fancy schmancy oven! Either way, enjoy!

Love Always,
Rukh 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Blueberry Doughnut-like Cake for The Greatest TV Show Ever!


I know these look *very* similar to past blueberry dishes I've posted about, but I swear, these are a whole new ballgame! So, like many of the recipes I post about, this particular one was inspired by/adapted from one from the fierce diva Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen. I intended to make her Strawberry Summer Cake, (the recipe for it can be found here):


Midway through, I realized I couldn't bear to use the "these are way too good to be true and are sweet enough to qualify for a dessert all by their lonesome selves" strawberries I got from the Farmers' Market in Burbank this morning, (hollaback Orange Grove & Third Street)! I decided to improvise: I had a ridiculous amount of blueberries in my fridge and what better home for them than swimming in sweet cake batter? Are you ready for the recipe? I refer to it as Blueberry Doughnut-like Cake, simply because the cake unintentionally tastes a little like blueberry doughnuts, and let's face it: how could that ever be a bad thing?

What show is this recipe inspired by? Believe it or not: The Wire. Okay, okay, it's a stretch, but I promise it'll make sense in just a bit: The Wire is probably the greatest TV series of all time. I've heard that stated by multiple people, (people who have never met each other by the way), and couldn't agree more. Each season of this phenomenal show focuses on a different social issue, (season 4 focused on problems in the public school system and is coincidentally my favorite). It doesn't hurt that they have some serious talent in the ensemble: Andre Royo, Sonja Sohn, Idris Elba, Michael K. Williams, Clarke Peters, the list goes on and on.

During (my favorite) season 4, the focus shifts to a group of kids. These young actors are insanely gifted, and one of them plays a kid who steals cars and goes by the nickname of "Donut." Let's think of this cake as an ode to him, his friends, and Omar Little.  Hey, I know it's a stretch, but any excuse for getting people to watch this TV show is just fine by me. So without further ado, here's the recipe. No go make it quickly and get to watching The Wire. Trust me, you'll thank me later!

Here's what you'll need:

1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1.5 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 large egg
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup fresh blueberries

Directions:

(1) Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
(2) Cream together butter and 1.5 cups sugar. Save the last tablespoon for later!
(3) Add the egg and whisk thoroughly.
(4) Add the vanilla, lemon extract, and milk and stir until well-blended.
(5) Add the dry ingredients. Make sure to stir until the mixture is completely combined.
(6) Stir in the cinnamon and then careful add 3/4 cup of your blueberries. Save the last 1/4 for later!
(7) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
(8) Lightly coat a 9-inch square pan with cooking spray. According to Deb's recipe, a 9-inch round one will not hold the cake and will make a mess, so be sure to put this in a square pan or a larger round one!
(9) Pour the batter into the pan and spread evenly with an offset spatula or the back of a teaspoon. Sprinkle remaining blueberries and then 1 tablespoon of sugar on top.
(10) Bake for 10 minutes. Then, lower the temperature to 325 degrees F and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a fork stuck into the center comes out clean. One more note from Deb's recipe on this: assume that the fruit will be gooey no matter what, so test a central area of the cake where there's no fruit.
(11) Cool cake completely before cutting into small squares. Enjoy with an episode of The Wire! Check out HBO's official website for it, (no copyright infringement intended). These fancy HBO people were smart enough to support this beautiful piece of work, so they better get it! 




Thursday, June 7, 2012

Chocolat! Chocolate Cherry Fudge!

Chocolate Cherry Fudge: Messy, yet tasty (I promise)!
Have you seen the cinematic decadence that is Chocolat? If not, you should get on it: Juliette Binoche. Johnny Depp, and Diva/Dame Judi Dench in a fun love story centering around a French woman and her magical chocolate shop. Of course it includes many scenes of chocolate being prepared in all its glory, so I recommend you have some on hand when you watch the film: maybe fudge will do the trick?

The IMDb page for Chocolat: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0241303/

In honor of this sweet movie, I give you Chocolate Cherry Fudge. This recipe was inspired by a fudge recipe found here: http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/simple-fudge-an-interview-with-anne-thornton/. I did, however, make several adjustments. Without further ado, I'm about to share one of the simplest recipes I know. I dare you to try it...trust me, you won't regret it!

Here's what you'll need:

1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
8-10 maraschino cherries (optional for those who just like good ol' plain chocolate)

Directions:

(1) Melt the sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, and salt over low heat in a saucepan/medium heatproof bowl. Stir this mixture until it's completely smooth. I suggest using the double-boiler method so as not to burn your chocolate. For those unfamiliar with this, it's super easy! Fill 1/4 of a medium skillet with water. Heat the water until it comes to a boil and then reduce the heat to low so it can simmer. Place the saucepan in the water, and you've got your fancy schmancy double-boiler!

(2) Remove saucepan from heat and stir in vanilla, cinnamon, (and the cherries if you're into them like me). Don't worry if some of that sugary syrup from the cherry jar gets in the fudge: trust me, it's all for the best!

(3) Place foil in a 9-inch square pan. Lightly coat the foil and sides of the pan with cooking spray. Pour your chocolate mixture in the pan and spread evenly. Chill for at least 3 hours or until the fudge is firm. Then, flip the pan over onto a large plate and carefully peel off the foil.

(4) Cut into squares. I suggest smaller squares, simply because this fudge is very rich, but to each their own! Also, remember to keep these little treats in the fridge. They get rather melty if left out for too long. Bon appetit!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Baking the Blues Away!

Blueberry Crumb Bars: Elegant, yet oh-so-tasty!
Blueberry Crumb Bars: they're delightful, delectable, and quite the perfect balance of sweet and savory. They're also good for baking therapy after a rough day in L.A. traffic. What is baking therapy you ask? Well, the answer is quite simple: baking therapy is whenever you use baking as a creative outlet to let go of unnecessary bad-news-bears-juju! To those who are interested in baking therapy, there are several ways to go about it. You can:

(1) Bake in a fabulous dress, (just make sure you got that heavy-duty apron handy)!
(2) Bake in fabulous heels, (this is what I did last night and it just made me feel fancy).
(3) Bake listening to great music, (so many options here, but I find Bruce, The Rolling Stones, or Stevie Wonder to be dependable options...them or super-bad guilty pleasure pop music). NOTE: this only truly works if you dance with abandon while listening. Be careful not to spill anything!
(4) Bake while watching a Michael Fassbender/Ryan Gosling/[insert name actor of your choice here] film. Why not? ;0)

Okay, so back to the Blueberry Crumb Bars. They're once again from a recipe by the phenomenal Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen. Here's a link to her website. This is all her! The only change I made was sprinkling a little cinnamon on top, because we all know what a cinnamon monster I am! Oh, and this recipe's show is Blue Bloods: it's a show about a family, well not just any family: they're all cops.

Blue Bloods. Get it? Cause, you know blueberry? Why am I the only one laughing? Oh well, in case you haven't watched, Blue Bloods is a show starring Donnie Wahlberg, Tom Selleck, Will Estes, and Bridget Moynahan. I haven't seen many episodes, but the ones I saw while I was living in Louisville were pretty solid. My mom also loves the show, and she has pretty good taste! Also, who knows? Maybe next season Donnie's equally cool and talented brother might guest star.

Without further ado, here's the recipe. Again, all credit goes to Deb Perelman and Smitten Kitchen:

http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/07/blueberry-crumb-bars/

Happy baking and enjoy your day!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Jerry's Black and White Cookie

The only one of the batch that came out looking (mostly) round

Please tell me you love Seinfeld as much as I do! Whenever I visit my parents back home in Louisville, we end up staying up late to watch re-runs. The "show about nothing" always leaves us laughing until our stomachs hurt, so in honor of it, I give you Martha Stewart's recipe for Black & White cookies! These fantastic cake-like cookies are a New York staple and also a favorite of Jerry himself.

No copyright infringement intended, this is all Diva Martha! Isn't her site amazing?

http://www.marthastewart.com/312604/black-and-white-cookies

I will warn ya that these were "tough cookies" to make. The dough is very smooth, which makes scooping the dough on the pan a little tricky. All in good fun, though! I should also mention that I added just a hint of vanilla extract to the icing, just because I'm kind of obsessed with the wonders of vanilla extract. Look to the cookie everyone, look to the cookie, (and 5 cool points to you if you get that reference)!



Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Dude (and Don Draper) Abide : White Russian Cupcakes!

Hey dude, this one's for you and that guy in the suit!

I have a terrible confession to make: I have never seen The Big Lebowski! *Dodges tomatoes* Hey, hey c'mon now, I'm working on fixing that very soon! Give me a little credit here: at least I know Jeff Bridges' character loves those White Russians. You know who else enjoys a nice drink? Don Draper: that handsome, impeccably-dressed, yet tortured character off Mad Men played by the equally impressive Jon Hamm. I'm still behind on all the drama at SCDP, so to atone for that, (and that Lebowski stuff) I give you White Russian Cupcakes with Kahlua Buttercream Frosting! I feel like it's the perfect way to honor the grooviness of Mr. Bridges and Mr. Hamm.

Oh, I should tell you that I found the recipe for them on this diva's website, so she better get it! 

http://www.rachelleb.com/2012/01/13/white-russian-cupcakes/

I took her fabulous recipe and multiplied it by two, as I'm making these cupcakes for my apartment-warming tomorrow. I also made some alterations with the buttercream frosting: I used 1.5 sticks of butter, added a tablespoon of vanilla extract, and used an extra 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. I kept the salt in and used 3 tablespoons of my knock-off Kahlua, (listen, L.A. is expensive, okay)? I got experimental with the garnishing: some cupcakes have dark chocolate bits/Hershey's syrup and some have milk chocolate chips. Now go make yourself a batch while I finally watch this classic. Cheers!




Friday, May 11, 2012

Six Feet Under Dirt Cups

Okay, gummy worms, this is sweet...

 
              
   Now give me passionate!


Give me excited!


I first found the gem of a show that is Six Feet Under during some off-time at an internship, deciding to finally check out what all the fuss was about. The show had already been off the air for over five years, but after watching an obscene amount of episodes in a ridiculously short amount of time, I understood why fans love it so much! To this day, I have to say Six Feet Under stands out as one of the greatest shows of all time. Now, I know what you're thinking: this l'il lady raves about a lot of supposedly good TV shows, but this series was the stuff of legends. It didn't hurt that their ensemble worked so well together: [here is where I was going to mention all of them but there were way too many talented people involved in this show to name. Don't believe me? Then visit the show's IMDb page and see for yourself: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0248654/]

On another note, I have to say that the series finale for this show was simply excellent, elegant and incredibly heart-wrenching all at the same time, whew *wipes brow.* Even though it's been one year since I finished the series, I still can't watch those last five minutes without tearing up. So to avoid the temptation to watch those last few phenomenal minutes again and to honor of this spectacular show, I give you: Six Feet Under dirt cups, cause you know, they own a funeral home and...yes, this is a bit morbid, but if you take the Six Feet Under reference out, these are incredibly easy-to-make treats that are perfect for a summer get together, okay?! Ready? Let's do this!

What you need:

  • 15 Oreos, (or less depending on how much you're making)
  • 1 package instant chocolate putting
  • 2 cups cold milk
  • 1 package gummy worms
  • A few pieces of dark chocolate (optional)
Directions:

(1) Prepare instant pudding according to instructions on package. I got the sugar-free, fat-free kind and it turned out to be surprisingly tasty. It was super easy to make, too! You just pour out the mix into a bowl, add 2 cups of cold milk and whisk for 2 minutes. It takes just a few more for the pudding to set!

(2) Take 3 Oreos and crush them up! Put this "dirt" layer at the bottom of a clear cup. Then, layer on a few generous teaspoons of your pudding. Crumble up 2-3 more Oreos for the top layer. Then, put those gummy worms on top, (or inside the cup if that's your style)! If you love dark chocolate like me, break those pieces up and scatter them over the top. 

(3) Grab a spoon and dig in! 

HBO's official website for the show. No copyright infringement shenanigans intended. I want you to get the good stuff from the people who green-lit it! http://www.hbo.com/six-feet-under/index.html





Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Anna's Chocolate Oat Bars: The Downton Abbey kind!



Oat Bars Pre-Oven



 The finished product!

Do you watch Downton Abbey? I found out about this fun, period soap opera quite recently and I am positively smitten! Is it because of the intricate relationships among the Lords, Ladies, and the servants that live and work in this beautiful estate?  Is it because of the pretty costumes? Or the fact that I took a fan quiz that told me that I'm just like Anna? The answer is all of the above, (especially that last reason because I heart Joanne Frogatt and her sweet as pie, yet tough as nails when in comes to doing the right thing character)!

Now, based on a little research I did, the servants at Downton would most likely have had some sort of porridge in the morning for breakfast, and what can be found in porridge? Why, oats of course. This brings me to this yummy dessert, inspired by the Wicked Noodle recipe for Chocolate Caramel Oat Bars:

http://www.thewickednoodle.com/wicked-chocolate-caramel-bars/

Now, I opted out of the caramel because I tried to vegan-ize this recipe and all the caramel recipes I found involved cream of some sort. I made these bars for my lovely friend, Sara, who's cutting out dairy as well as gluten from her diet. I did my best to follow the vegan/gluten-free guidelines, so here's to hoping the outcome is still as good. Instead of the caramel sauce, I substituted 1/2 a bar of high-quality dark chocolate. If you want the non-vegan version, click the link above. For this adjusted one, (one that I'm sure sweet Anna would have gone out of her way to make for Mr. Bates if he chose to go vegan/gluten-free), look no further!

Here's what you'll need:
  • 1 and 1/4 cup vegan margarine, (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1 and 1/4 cup brown sugar, sadly I couldn't find a substitute for this
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups oats
  • Oat flour/Gluten-Free Flour substitute: we'll get to this later
  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1.5 oz 70% dark chocolate
Directions:

(1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

(2) Cream the margarine and sugar together in a large bowl. The good news is that if you get a small container of Earth Balance, it already comes whipped, so stirring with a fork isn't as tough, (yes I'm still electric-mixer-less).

(2) Stir in the flour, baking soda, and salt. This is what I did: I took a couple cups of oats, put it into my roommate's food processor, and pushed the pulse button. This gave me enough oat flour to substitute into the recipe. The only catch is that this will definitely kick up the oat flavor of the entire recipe. If you're not into all those oats, I've heard of people using quinoa flour, too but please definitely look it up other options before hand! I'm no expert!

(3) Add the 2 cups of oats and stir well. Coat a 9-inch square pan with your margarine and press half of the oat mixture onto it. Bake for 10 minutes.

(4) Remove from oven add chocolate chips. Break the dark chocolate into smaller pieces and scatter evenly on top of the first oat layer. Scatter the rest of the oat mixture on top of the chocolate. Bake for 15 minutes.

(5) Remove from oven and let cool. Cut into small squares and enjoy! 

  • NOTE: If you opt for this version of the recipe, I noticed the squares will be a lot softer, so be careful when serving to avoid a sticky, chocolate mess!

Oh, and please give this show a chance. It's worth it, (Dame Maggie Smith's in it...how bad could it be)?

The official PBS Masterpiece websitehttp://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/downtonabbey/