Monday, July 17, 2017

High Energy Snacks for Your Pregnant/Nursing/Ironman Friends




Now there's a title that will get all of zero searches...

But seriously, recently a friend of mine just had a baby. We took her these Magic Sevens because they are her favorite. I'm not sure if it was a good thing to do to a new mom or an evil thing to do to a new mom. But it did get me thinking of all the virtuously hearty snacks I could have brought her, but didn't, because I'm one of those evil-good friends.

And then our other friend completed his first Ironman. I didn't bring him any food, but I did ask how his sunburn was. Which I think we can all agree is insufficient consolation for not bringing high energy snacks to his house. #badfriend

Since I am clearly a bad person, I thought I'd try to make it up to everyone by posting some really great snacks for people who need healthy foods in those healthy bods that are burning calories like crazy. (Note: Posting recipes does not make up for not bringing food to people. This only confirms my bad person status. I apologize.)

1. Little Balls of Nutty Energy. I think the title says enough. 


2. Granola Balls. A similar theme to the nutty balls (wait, that doesn't sound how I meant it to sound...), but less nutty, more oaty.


3. Cheapskate Larabars. I love these with my soul.


4. Oat Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies. Some of the best breakfast cookies on my blog.


5. Honey Lemon Tumeric Energy Bites. If you want to be trendy and natural and awesome.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Brownie Mousse Cheesecake


I should be posting red, white, and blue things right now. Instead I'm posting chocolate and cheesecake, and more chocolate. I still think it's pretty American.


My friend made a recipe similar to this for a party she threw a few months ago and it was so amazingly delicious that I knew I wanted to make it too. But when? My family is a little picky about cheesecake. So I worried that I would make this lovely, delicious thing, and have to eat it all by myself. There are worse fates in the world. But, well, I did turn 40 this year. And eating entire cheesecakes on my own didn't seem like the responsible thing to do. So I waited.

And then my niece visited. We had a birthday party for her. And she wanted cheesecake. Done and done. (P.S. EVERYONE--even devout cheesecake haters liked this recipe)

Now, I'm not gonna lie, this is fussier than a normal batch of cookies or wacky cake or whatever. BUT it is less fussy than something with three layers might normally be. The brownie is easy to throw together. The cheesecake is easy to throw together. The mousse is easy to throw together (and it doesn't have to be cooked).

That said, even though there is not too much hands on work, there is a very long, low cook time for the cheesecake, and several cooling periods. This needs to be made a day ahead when you have time to let things cool off. It just can't be rushed.

Now for a confession: I accidentally bought TWO fat free cream cheeses without realizing it. I pretty much consider fat free cream cheese Satan's cheese. But I unknowingly made my cheesecake anyway, and the texture was a little different than it should have been (which led us to discover my mistake). BUT it was STILL amazing. Even with the devil's cheese at its center. I'm sure there's a moral here somewhere, but I can't quite find it. Anyway, the point is that this is so good that even less than perfect ingredients will not destroy it (though, really, people, when making a brownie mousse cheesecake, please, just do the world a favor and use full fat cream cheese).

Brownie Mousse Cheesecake
makes 1 10-inch cake
Prep time: 30-40 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours (yup, you heard me)
Cost: Let's not talk about it on birthdays. Seriously, though--the total is about $8.50 or the cost of ONE slice of cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory, so it could be worse, right (unless you eat the whole thing yourself like an irresponsible adult, in which case, I cannot help you, friend)
Brownie layer: $1.50, cheesecake layer: $4.00, mousse layer $3.00 (Aldi prices)

Brownie: 

1/2 C butter (1 stick, partially melted)
1/2 C cocoa
1 C sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 C flour
3/4-1 C dark chocolate chips

Combine butter and cocoa. Add sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Beat in flour just until combined. Add chocolate chips.

Spread batter in a greased  9 or 10-inch springform pan.

Bake for only 10 minutes. It's going to look raw-ish. It's going to be raw-ish. That's because you're going to bake it more when you add the cheesecake layer, so don't fret.

Allow to cool (or mostly cool) before adding the cheesecake layer.

Cheesecake: 

3 packages cream cheese (24 oz total)
3/4 tsp lemon zest
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp whipping cream

Beat cream cheese. Add zest. Then eggs. Add vanilla and whipping cream.

Pour this mixture on top of your partially baked brownie.

Now you are going to do something slightly odd. You're going to bake it at a very low temperature for a very long time. This is going to keep your brownie from burning or overcooking while allowing your cheesecake to cook into velvety perfection.

Bake at 250 for about 2 hours or until the temperature at the center reaches 160. It'll still jiggle. [Note: Since I did make this with the wrong kind of cream cheese, you might want to check this before 2 hours to make sure that the weird fatless cheese didn't mess with it's cooking time somehow. I doubt it did but one can never be sure with the devil's cheese.]

Take it out and allow it to cool. This will take a few hours, so plan for that, my friends.

Mousse: 

2 Tbsp cocoa
5 Tbsp hot water
7 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli)
1 1/2 C heavy cream
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Combine cocoa powder and hot water; set aside.

Melt chocolate in microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until melted. Set that aside too.

Whip the cream, sugar, and salt. Instructions for whipping cream here if you need them.

Whisk the cocoa water into the melted chocolate. Be sure both have cooled somewhat (they can be warm, but not hot). Then fold part of the whipped cream into the mixture. Fold more in, and more again until it's a lovely chocolatey yum. This is mousse.

Spread it on the cooled cheesecake.

But you're still not done. It needs to set for about an hour. Otherwise it won't be as firm as it should be.

You can top this with a ganache or whipped cream and chocolate shavings (which is what we chose) or nothing at all).

All that waiting has been worth it. Enjoy!

PRINTABLE RECIPE

Monday, June 19, 2017

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls



If you want cinnamon rolls for breakfast, you have a few options: 1) Wake up at the crack of dawn, 2) Eat breakfast at 10 in the morning after all your children have completely melted down and have been condemned to spend the rest of eternity in time out, or 3) figure out how to do the bulk of the work the night before.

Option 3 is clearly preferable, but it's also tricky. What if your rolls rise to the sun in your refrigerator and you open it to find yeasty bread bursting out of ever seam and crevice? Or what if they don't rise at all and you wind up serving tiny rocks of sweet calorie bombs to your loved ones (I won't say it's never happened before...)? What if what if what if?

On Father's Day I had the chance to experiment.

And the truth is that I don't know if there's exactly a one-size-fix-all solution. Yeasts act differently depending on how old or fresh they are, and also how the yeasting gods are feeling today. Every batch of dough has a slightly different amount of flour. Even changes in weather and humidity are going to affect your bread. So should you just give up? Um, no. We're talking about morning of cinnamon rolls here.

Below you'll find a how-to with a little bit of trouble shooting advice. May it make your mornings glorious.

How to Make Cinnamon Rolls Overnight:

1. Make your dough.
2. Roll out your rolls and add all the yummy stuff
3. Cut them and put them in a greased baking vessel
4. Cover that baking vessel with plastic wrap and possibly a lid and put it in your refrigerator.
5. Remove it the next morning and let it warm up a bit as your oven heats.
6. Cook your cinnamon rolls.
7. Enjoy bliss.

Trouble Shooting:

Scenario A: Your rolls don't rise at all. This happened to me. In this case, you'll need a few extra minutes, but only about fifteen.

Put the sad, un-risen rolls in an oven heated to a very low temperature--about 175 or 200 degrees. Leave it there for 3-5 minutes. Turn OFF the heat. Then leave it for another 10 minutes.

Take the rolls out, cover with a towel, preheat the oven, and cook. By the time the oven is heated, those rolls will have risen and you'll be good to go.

Total time: 15 minutes to get jump started, 10-15 minutes for your oven to heat, 15 minutes to cook (45, which is a lot, but way less than the 2 1/2 hours you're looking at if this is a from-scratch thing)

Scenario B: Your rolls rise to the heavens, leaving us mere earthlings behind to mourn their air-bubbled loss.

The most important way to stop this is just to get that dough cold ASAP. Put it into the refrigerator immediately. If your house is particularly warm and/or your yeast is particularly sassy (in other words, did your dough rise like a boss on its first rise?), put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes and then put it in the refrigerator (don't forget or your dough will freeze and when that happens, no amount of trouble shooting will save you).

And of course, if you want a fantastic recipe, HERE you go.

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