The boys are back in town … or, in our case, the girls.
For six years, my husband has been a dorm parent in a boys’ dorm at the private high school where he teaches and we live. We were in one dorm for a year; and then, when we moved into our last apartment, another dorm for five. I LOVED those boys – and still do, of course. We knew at the end of last year with us moving it was likely my husband would be assigned to a different dorm. And he was. A girls’ dorm.
Most of my part in dorm parenting has been baking for the boys. It brings me a lot of joy, and I think it helps them feel a little more like school is home. I was a little hesitant about the girls’ dorm, wondering if they would eat like the boys do. I have been assured from every side that yes, they do.
So now I have 40 high-school daughters. And they wiped this platter clean the other night. Mr. V said one even said she doesn’t usually love chocolate, but she really liked this cake!
We’re living in a house now, so we’re not in the dorm with the kids, which is kind of weird after six years of being in one. But we’re still on campus and eating in the dining hall and trying to love these kids like our own. So I’ll still be baking up a storm!
Slightly adapted from Barbara Bakes. I love bundt cakes because they are so easy to serve and don't require as much frosting (I am not huge on frosting), but you could also bake this as a 9x13 or a layer cake, adjusting the time.
1 c. (2 sticks) butter
5 T cocoa powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup water
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. chocolate chips
1 T honey or corn syrup
3 T heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray with flour and set aside.
In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together butter (cut into slices), cocoa powder, salt, and water. Cook until the butter is melted, stirring, and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and baking soda. Add half of the butter mixture and stir until well blended. Add the remaining butter mixture and stir until uniform. Stir in sour cream and vanilla until uniform.
Pour the mixture into the prepared bundt pan. Bake 35-40 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack or platter to cool completely.
Put chocolate chips into a microwave-safe measuring cup. Add honey or corn syrup and heavy cream on top. Microwave 30 second on high power, then stir together until the chocolate is smooth. If it will not all melt, give it another 15 seconds or so. (Do NOT add more heavy cream once the chocolate is hot; it will make it seize up.) Drizzle or spoon over top of the cake and let set.
My blogger this month was Nicole, who blogs at I Am a Honey Bee. She is a lifestyle blogger who shares lots of recipes, for delicious things I want to make like Homemade Cheez-Its, Coca-Cola Carnitas, and Crockpot Cool Ranch Chicken. She is married and has a young daughter named Autumn, and they recently moved to Florida. I looooove all her Mexican-inspired recipes, and I will definitely be trying out some this summer (when I have to cook. About three weeks, people!).
For now, though, I decided to make this snack mix with half a jar of cookie butter I’ve had sitting around awhile. What’s up with that? I think I had hid it from myself because I kept eating apples with about half a cup of cookie butter for dipping … So I unearthed it from the cupboard and used the recipe to make this delicious snack! (Cookie butter is also called Biscoff, from the kind of cookies used to make it.)
Confession: I went to a discount store to shop, because it was near where I was the other day. And they didn’t have any kind of Chex, so I used plain Cheerios. I think the Chex shape soaks up the coating a little better, but any unsweetened cereal should work if you’re in a pinch!
I got an ice cream maker for Christmas this year. It’s the attachment for my KitchenAid, so I love that it’s not really a whole other appliance to store. I just throw the bowl in my chest freezer to keep it cold, and the couple other pieces up with the rest of my KA stuff.
But I had only made ice cream once! What is my problem? And that time it was a simple coconut milk ice cream for when we had David off dairy. That one turned out hard as a rock in the freezer, although the kids still loved it! But I was unsure of how to proceed with a more “normal” ice cream.
Use a vegetable peeler to peel big strips of zest from two lemons; set aside. Juice the lemons to get 1/2 cup of juice. Place juice and 2 T sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Pour into a measuring cup and place in the refrigerator to cool.
Ice Cream Base
To prepare, measure out the two cups of milk. Then, measure cornstarch into a small bowl. Add 2 Tablespoons of the milk and whisk to make a slurry. Set aside. In another small bowl, whisk salt into cream cheese and set aside. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine remaining milk, heavy cream, sugar, corn syrup, and the zest from the lemons. Bring to a bubble and let boil 4 minutes, stirring occasionally as needed. Remove from heat; add cornstarch slurry to the pot and whisk. Return to heat and let cook until it thickens somewhat, about 1 minute.
Remove from heat; whisk in cream cheese mixture. Pour ice cream base into a gallon-size freezer bag and seal; then place the bag in the ice water, submerging. Let sit for about 30 minutes, until the mixture is cool.
To make the ice cream
Set up your maker per instructions. Remove zest strips from the ice cream base, then add base to the maker. Start it up, then drizzle in the lemon syrup. Let churn until ice cream is the consistency of soft serve. Remove to a container with an airtight lid, pressing parchment paper onto the top of the ice cream before sealing with lid. Freeze for 2-4 hours before eating.
Do you ever eat cookies for breakfast? We sure do. One of my kids’ favorite breakfasts is Giant Breakfast Cookies. (They also love having Popsicles for breakfast.) I am all about making their food fun so that they are more likely to eat healthier things. And since these cookies are probably way healthier than any muffin I make, I say go forth and make cookies for breakfast!
I also eyed the Irish Soda Bread (which I love, but the one I made most recently flopped in a big way) and Lemon Garlic Hummus; but in the end I was searching while I had sick kids at home and couldn’t go to the store, so I had everything on hand for the peanut butter cookies. Plus, cookies.
That said – for some wacky reason I didn’t have any whole wheat flour, which I ALWAYS have. So I did use white flour in mine, but I mixed in some oat flour to give it a little more healthfulness. I would definitely use white whole wheat flour if I had it on hand.
1 1/4 c. flour, preferably whole wheat (or a combo of all-purpose and oat flour)
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a saucepan over low heat, melt together the butter, peanut butter, and sugars. Move mixture to a large bowl.
Your mixture should only be warm, not hot; if it's too warm, wait for a bit to make sure the eggs don't cook in it. Once it's just slightly warm, add eggs, milk, and vanilla.
Sift dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and baking powder) into the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat. Form dough into golf-ball sized balls and place on sheet, then press down slightly. (You can criss-cross with a fork for a traditional peanut butter cookie look, if you like. I didn't.) Bake for 7-8 minutes. They won't look done, but take them out anyway. Let cool on baking sheet 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Best served warm!
For these to be truly low in sugar, use a natural peanut butter that is just peanuts or peanuts and salt. Even "natural" peanut butters usually have sugar and oils in them. I like Smuckers brand.
It’s Fall! Maybe for real this time! Yes, in this part of Tennessee it’s rarely fall before at mid-October. But every year we somehow forget about how that happens and moan and groan about it through September.
Please forgive my Fall over-styling, then, but I was a little excited.
These little date candies come to you via the Secret Recipe Club from Melissa, author of Smells Like Brownies. Strangely enough, Melissa is probably the only SRC member I’ve met in person; she was one of my sister’s friend in middle school. We also went to the same high school; she would have been a freshman when I was a senior. SO WEIRD!
So now Melissa is, like me, a stay-at-home mommy who passionately loves to bake. She is also very health-conscious and a pescatarian. I will say that after #Choctoberfest I really just wanted to make a steak for SRC! But since Melissa doesn’t go that route, instead I made this yummy date candy balls that are a lot more healthful than, say, Millionaire Shortbread Bars.
I thought the coffee powder might be a little overwhelming for the rest of the flavors, but I liked the balance between it and the cocoa. I was sure my kids would take one taste and refuse to eat them because NUTS and COFFEE, but they gobbled them right up. Score for Mommy!!! A healthy snack that gets them good fat from nuts and vitamins from the dates.
unsweetened shredded coconut, for rolling (optional)
Toast chopped nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until they smell nutty. Put nuts and dates in a food processor and run until they are well chopped and combined.
Add cocoa, coffee, salt, vanilla, and chocolate chips to the mixture and pulse until combined.
Use a small cookie scoop (about 2 teaspoons) to measure some of the mixture into your hand, then roll into a ball. It should press together pretty easily; if not, you can add a teaspoon of water or honey to the mixture and pulse again. If desired, roll balls in shredded coconut. Place on a plate and refrigerate for a little it before serving. Store covered in fridge.
I am doing a quick fill-in for someone in Group D of Secret Recipe Club, so this is my second reveal for April. Fun! I got to explore the new-to-me blog Hapa-tite. Nicole is a (very gorgeous) twenty-something of mixed cultural heritage who loves and embraces her father’s Hawaiian culture. She lives in the DC area, and writes about a mix of recipes, bento box ideas, tea, and restaurant reviews. Nicole is also a graphic designer and has one of the most beautiful blogs I have seen!
I’ve never actually made toffee, but this looked so delicious and I had a bag of pistachios, so it spoke to me. I didn’t realize toffee is really not that difficult to make; this whole process took me maybe half an hour. And I have a whole pan of toffee that looks like it could have come from Williams-Sonoma (without the $45 pricetag!).
This toffee would make a beautiful gift or just nice to have around for some good, teeth-sticking-together, toffee snacking.
Just a note that I used pistachios and cashews … entirely because I got tired of shelling the pistachios. So buy pre-shelled ones or don’t be as lazy as I am. I liked the cashews, but I think all pistachios would probably be best. Or you can throw whatever you want on top of this: dried cranberries, sprinkles, crushed candy cane, candied ginger … the possibilities are endless.
8 ounces chocolate (chips or chopped) - I used about 2 oz. very dark chocolate and 6 oz. milk chocolate chips
1 c. chopped nuts, preferably pistachios, or other toppings
Have an ungreased 9x13 pan close by while you make the toffee.
In a heavy saucepan, heat butter, sugar, water, and salt over medium heat. Once butter is melted, whisk constantly until you feel like your arm will fall off and the mixture reaches 300F. It will be a medium golden brown color. When the mixture gets sort of melted-marshmallow consistency and comes away from the side of the pan as you whisk, you're getting close.
Immediately pour the toffee mixture into the 9x13 pan and spread out. Let cool.
Melt chocolate in the microwave in 30 second increments until it is about 75% melted. Then keep stirring until it's uniform. Spread gently over the toffee. Immediately top with chopped nuts or other toppings. Use the bottom of a glass measuring cup to gently press the toppings into the chocolate.
Cool in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes or at room temperature 2 hours, until the chocolate is all hardened. Break off pieces and serve. Store any extra in the fridge.