Monthly Archives: May 2013

Easy Raspberry Vanilla Swirl Brownies

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These brownies may look fancy, but I promise they’re simple to make.

I had a recipe planned out for some grilled shrimp, but my mom requested I make my “famous” brownies for our Memorial Day cookout tomorrow. Famous meaning, they come from a box and everyone knows it. But I must say, not all boxed brownie mix is created equal. I strongly recommend Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownie mix. They are decadent, fudgy, and have dark chocolate chips in the mix. They are the best boxed brownies I’ve ever had and they never fail to please guests.

In honor of Memorial Day, I wanted to add a fun raspberry and cream cheese swirl to these brownies, inspired by two different recipes. Growing up, my aunt Ellen would often make brownies with cream cheese swirled on top and we always loved them. In college, my favorite dessert from the dining hall was their delicious raspberry swirl brownies, topped off with raspberry preserves. I’ve always loved the combination of chocolate and raspberry, and also raspberry and cream cheese, and so the idea for these brownies was born. But after a failed attempt using cream cheese for this recipe, I realized it was too thick to achieve the “swirl” and I decided yogurt would work better.

Anyway, these brownies are super delicious and decadent. They are deceivingly simple to make, using boxed brownie mix and using a tooth pick to swirl raspberry preserves and vanilla yogurt. The brownies are rich and fudgy and the yogurt and raspberry swirl is a nice break from the intensity of the chocolate. You certainly don’t have to use Ghirardelli brownie mix (though I seriously recommend it) – you can use whichever your favorite type is and they will come out delicious regardless.

Easy Raspberry Vanilla Swirl Brownies
makes 1 8 x 8″ pan

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Ingredients:

  • 1 box of your favorite brownie mix, plus the ingredients required to make the brownies (mine calls for oil, water, and an egg)
  • 1/3 cup raspberry preserves or jam
  • 1/3 cup vanilla Greek yogurt

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325ΒΊF and lightly grease an 8 x 8 inch pan with cooking spray.
  2. Prepare your brownie mix as instructed on the box directions, and pour into greased pan.
  3. In a sandwich-sized Ziploc bag, pour in raspberry preserves and seal. In a separate Ziploc bag, pour in vanilla yogurt and seal. Cut off the tip of the corner of each bag.
  4. Squeeze the yogurt in a straight line onto the prepared brownie mix, from top to bottom. Make 4 stripes across. Repeat this with the raspberry preserves. Drag a toothpick across the surface from left to right starting at the top, and then from right to left directly under the first line, alternating until you reach the bottom and a zigzag or chevron design is achieved.
  5. Bake according to box directions and let cool before slicing. Serve with a tall glass of milk or as dessert at your Memorial Day festivities πŸ™‚
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Prepare your brownie mix according to box directions, and pour into a greased 8 x 8 inch pan. (Don’t forget to preheat your oven!)

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Pour yogurt into a small Ziploc bag and cut the tip of the corner off. Do the same for the raspberry preserves, in a separate bag.

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Gently squeeze the yogurt in a thin line across the top of the brownie batter. Do the same with the raspberry. Don’t worry if the lines aren’t perfect! (I left the part of the batter plain for some members of my family who prefer regular brownies.)

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Gently drag a toothpick across the stripes, from left and right and then alternating to right to left, until you reach the bottom of the pan so a zigzag pattern is created.

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Bake up your brownies and let them cool before cutting into them. (The raspberry swirl may be hard to see, but you’ll be able to taste it!)

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Cut your brownies into neat little squares.

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πŸ™‚

Happy Memorial Day!

No-Bake Peanut Butter Energy Bites

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This is a recipe I’ve seen floating around Pinterest for some time and I finally got around to trying out when I realized I had a plethora of peanut butter (always a good thing). These little bites may not look like much, but boy do they pack a punch – not to mention they are crazy addictive.

I found this recipe on Gimme Some Oven and is one of the most popular recipes on their blog. They are similar to a granola bar, but in a miniature and convenient form. They’re filled with oats, peanut butter, honey, coconut flakes and chocolate chips and are wonderfully chewy and full of flavor. The original recipe called for flax seeds and chia seeds, which I left out, but they would add extra protein and crunch if you choose to use them. I played around with the ingredients a bit to suit my tastes, but feel free to stick to the original recipe if you prefer.

These bites are the perfect size to bring with you on the go or if you need a quick snack. I like to pop in one or two before the gym for a little pick-me-up. It’s recommend that you keep them refrigerated (which is how I like my granola bars anyway) but if you choose to keep them at room temperature, just keep in mind that they’ll need to be eaten within a few days or a week.

No-Bake Peanut Butter Energy Bites
adapted from No Bake Energy Bites on Gimme Some Oven, originally seen on Smashed Peas and Carrots

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Ingredients:
makes about 20 bites

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (I recommend salted)
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup (1/3 cup if your peanut butter and/or coconut is unsweetened)
  • 1-2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted (optional, but helps keep them together)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

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Directions:

In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir well until combined. Using your hands, roll the mixture into balls that are about 1 Tbsp or 1 inch big. My recipe made about 18 balls. Place on a large plate and refrigerate for 1 hour or more until firm. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl

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Stir until combined

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Roll into balls that are roughly 1-inch big

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And enjoy! πŸ™‚

Chicken Caprese Salad

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I realized recently I don’t have enough salad recipes on here. Mostly because I don’t eat enough salad, which I’ve been trying to change. I do love a good salad but I often find myself too lazy to get out all the ingredients and chop them up – which is silly because I usually spend 30 minutes preparing most of my meals anyway.

Whenever I see the word “Caprese” on a menu at a restaurant, I get excited. Caprese is the classic Italian combination of fresh mozzerella, fresh basil, and tomatoes. It’s one of my favorite flavor combinations and is always sure to satisfy. A traditional Insalata Caprese doesn’t involve lettuce or greens of any type, but I decided to throw some into this salad for extra heartiness and some crunch, and chicken for protein of course. This salad is so light and fresh tastingΒ  – perfect for summer.

I also threw together a simple homemade creamy balsamic vinaigrette for this salad. You can find balsamic vinegar near the other vinegars or olive oil in your grocery store and it’s relatively inexpensive. I used Greek yogurt (my staple) for the “creamy” aspect of the dressing, but you could alternatively use mayonnaise or heavy cream for a more authentic version.

Chicken Caprese Salad
serves 1

Ingredients:

  • For the dressing:
    • 1 Tbsp olive oil
    • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
    • 2 tsp plain Greek yogurt or mayonnaise
    • 2-3 tsp lemon juice
    • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • one small stalk of romaine lettuce (about 3-4 cups), chopped and rinsed
  • 1 small breast of chicken, grilled and sliced
  • 1/4 cup of cubed fresh mozzerella
  • 3-4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved

Directions:

To prepare the dressing, simply whisk all of the ingredients for it together in a small bowl. Set aside. Place lettuce in a salad bowl, and layer remaining ingredients on top. Drizzle dressing over the salad and enjoy. πŸ™‚

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Red Velvet Cookies for Mother’s Day!

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This post is dedicated to my wonderful mother, Debbie. My mom loves all things red velvet – especially the cake – and I thought these cookies were a fun spin-off of one of her favorite desserts.

I’ve always known how fortunate I am to have such an amazing mother. She’s the most caring, generous, and loving person I’ve ever known and I was lucky to realize this at a young age. While others were embarrassed to be seen with their moms in their preteen or teenage years, I always loved to spend time with her and would gladly accompany her to the grocery store or other errands. During my college years and now that I’ve moved away from home, I don’t get to see her as much as I’d like, but I make sure to visit home every few weeks to hang out with her.

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Isn’t she so cute?!

My mother has given me and taught me so much. She has always been 100% supportive of my hobbies and interests and has always encouraged me to pursue my dreams. She’s been especially supportive of my interest in cooking and blogging and even came up with the name for this blog! She is my best friend in many ways and I can only hope that someday I’ll be half the mother she is. I am so thankful to have the relationship that we do and I couldn’t ask for a better mom. Love you mom!

Anyway, onto the cookies. This recipe were inspired by these Red Velvet White Chocolate Chip Cookies on Cooking Classy. I found this recipe through foodgawker last year and saved it because it looked like something my mom would like. In fact, I have a whole folder of recipes to make for her someday. I decided to stick with my go-to cookie recipe, because I like that it uses just one stick of butter and the large proportion of brown sugar makes them extra chewy. These cookies are incredibly rich with a nice vanilla flavor, a hint of cocoa, and sweet white chocolate chips. They would also be perfect for Valentine’s Day or Christmas!

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I read that you can adapt any cookie recipe to make red velvet cookies, so long as you remember to take away as much flour as cocoa powder that you add. For example, if you’re adding 3 Tbsp of cocoa powder, subtract 3 Tbsp of flour from the recipe. It’s also a good idea to cut back on the amount of sugar a bit because these cookies are very decadent.

Red Velvet Cookies
makes 2 dozen cookies

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, whisked
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp red food coloring
  • 1 3/4 cup minus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (also equivalent to 1 1/2 cups + 1 Tbsp)
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • optional: 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup white chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar together. Stir in egg, vanilla extract, and red food coloring until uniform.
  2. In a separate medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and optional cinnamon. Whisk together and combine with butter/sugar mixture. Stir just until incorporated and fold in white chocolate chips.
  3. Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours or up to 24.* Once your dough is cool, preheat your oven to 300ΒΊF.
  4. Roll the dough into roughly 1 inch balls (or a heaping tablespoon) and place on a very lightly greased or nonstick cookie sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes, or until center looks firm. I found that mine were perfect after 12 minutes. Serve with a glass of milk and enjoy πŸ™‚

*Refrigerating the dough isn’t necessary to the recipe, but I like to do this because baking dough that’s been firmed in the fridge yields thicker, chewier cookies.

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β™₯

Greek Yogurt Pancakes

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That’s right. Greek yogurt pancakes. Two awesome things combined into one.

I was excited when I found this recipe for Greek Yogurt Pancakes on Everyday Belle because I had been looking for a slightly healthier pancake that still tasted like the real thing. When it comes to breakfast, I’m normally more into savory food such as eggs, omelettes, hash browns, bagels, etc. This morning, however, I woke up with a strange craving for something sweet and decided it was time to put these pancakes to the test. This was actually my first time making pancakes on my own and from scratch, and while they came out tasty, I do admit my flipping skills need work…

These Greek Yogurt Pancakes are incredibly fluffy, chewy, and only 4 ingredients. The flavor of the yogurt isn’t as strong as you might think, but instead gives the pancakes extra moisture and a super thick texture. The protein in the yogurt will also help to keep you full, which is always a perk in my book.

The pancake batter is pretty thick, so after reading through the comments on the original recipe, I added about 2 Tbsp of milk. If you’re using unflavored Greek yogurt, I would recommend adding some honey or sugar to sweeten the batter as well. A few commenters said whole wheat flour didn’t work very well with the recipe as is, but feel free to play around with it and see what you come up with. Next time I think I’ll add some chocolate chips or fruit! πŸ™‚

Greek Yogurt Pancakes
adapted from Everyday Belle

Ingredients:
makes 1 large or 2 small servings

  • 6 oz. (or a little less than 3/4 cup) Greek yogurt – vanilla recommended!
  • 1 egg
  • scant 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • optional: 2-3 Tbsp milk to thin out the batter, dash of cinnamon, 2-3 Tbsp sugar or honey to sweeten the batter if unsweetened yogurt
  • toppings of choice: maple syrup, fruit, honey, yogurt, etc.
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Your ingredients, plus optional milk and cinnamon

Directions:

  1. In a bowl small, combine Greek yogurt and your egg. Whisk to combine, until smooth.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir flour and baking soda together until well-incorporated. Add to yogurt-egg mixture and stir well. Also add the milk and/or cinnamon if using.
  3. Lightly spray a large frying pan or griddle with cooking spray and heat to medium. Once your pan is hot, use a ladle or large spoon to drop the batter onto the pan. I got 3 medium-large pancakes out of the batter.
  4. When pancakes start to bubble on the surface and the edges have firmed up a bit, flip onto the other side. Once they’re finished cooking, serve with desired toppings and enjoy πŸ™‚
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Begin by whisking together your yogurt and egg until smooth

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Add your flour and baking soda to the yogurt mixture. The photo on the left is the batter without milk – very thick – and the photo on the right is after 2 Tbsp of milk is added.

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Spoon the batter into a lightly greased hot griddle or pan. Once the surface bubbles and edges are firm, carefully flip your pancakes.

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So… like I said, my flipping skills still need some work. But on the second try…

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BOOM. Nailed it.

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And voila! Fluffy and delicious Greek yogurt pancakes.

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I served mine with maple syrup and sliced banana.

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πŸ™‚