Homemade Oreos

Weekend highlights:

Granola for dinner. French fries for dessert.

Reading The Help.

Dinner with Cleo Delphine and Vida Jewel (and Seleta and Jesse).

Oversized hat optional.

Cuddles. Flowers. Flours.

Morning runs.

Baseball.

Dinner from the grill (and bleu cheese grits):

Dinner for two

Oh, and homemade oreos. Definite highlight.

What surprised me most about these cookies is how easy they were. Something about homemade oreos seems like it would be complicated. Probably because if you look at the ingredients label of real oreos it’s kind of scary. What exactly is high oleic canola oil? Vanillin? Oh and don’t forget the high fructose corn syrup (because sugar wasn’t enough).

Listen. I love real oreos as much as the next girl. I’m just saying. Do yourself a favor and reduce the amount of high fructose corn syrup in your diet. Make these instead.

These chocolate cookies alone are gooooood. And the oreos keep surprisingly well! In fact, I think they might even be better after a couple of days. Like wine… a cookie that gets better with age.

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Cookies:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room temp butter

1 large egg

Filling:

1/2 stick butter

1/4 cup vegetable shortening

2 cups sifted confectioners sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

For the cookies:

Preheat oven to 375. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Put flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder in the bowl of your mixer. Mix on low to fully combine. While on low speed, add your butter then the egg. Mix and mix until dough comes together in a ball.

Place rounded teaspoons of dough on cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Now, I don’t usually use a measuring spoon for cookies but for these I did because I wanted them to be small and I usually get a little carried away 🙂 Slightly flatten the tops of the cookies (my friend had a good idea if you have a cool stamp, you could try stamping the tops like an oreo!). Bake for 8-9 minutes, rotating halfway. Let cool for a minute on the tray and then transfer to a rack.

While the cookies are cookin, use a mixer to mix together the butter and shortening. Gradually mix in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for a few minutes to make it light and fluffy.

Use a knife or small spatula to apply about a tablespoon of filling in between two cookies. The filling recipe makes just about the perfect amount of filling for all the cookies.

Get a glass of milk and enjoy!

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Dream Weaver Banana Bread

I know everyone has a different story on their dreams. Some people never remember. Some always remember. I go through phases where I remember them a lot and then other times where I don’t remember them at all.

Right now, I’m in one of those places where I remember them. Vividly.

Luckily, there haven’t been any nightmares (unless you count last night’s dream where I was a server at Houstons again as a nightmare).

I had a dream where I met Joy the Baker and Tracy Shutterbean and we were getting our nails did! Sometimes dreams are awesome.

I am mostly just fascinated with dreams when I remember them. All of that was going on inside my head and I didn’t even know!

I planned to make banana bread about a week ago. But here’s the thing about banana bread. You have to wait and wait for those nanas to turn practically black:

I probably could have waited another day. But you know what happened in the time I was waiting? Joy the Baker went and blogged the banana bread she made! Do you think we have a subconscious connection?! (I sure hope so.)

Well it’s not the same recipe but here it is!

Adapted from The Grand Central Baking Book:

1.5 cups whole wheat flour

2 cups all-purpose flour

1.5 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

2 cups sugar

2/3 cup vegetable oil

2.5 cups banana mash (I used 3 medium sized bananas)

4 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

Preaheat oven to 350. Lightly grease two 9×5 loaf pans.

Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a bowl. Set aside.

Beat together sugar, oil, and banana mash for a few minutes on medium high speed.

Crack the eggs in another bowl and whisk together with vanilla. With mixer on low, gradually add egg mixture until fully combined.

Add one-third of the dry ingredients and mix briefly then add half of the buttermilk. Continue alternating dry and buttermilk until all ingredients, ending with dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Mix in quinoa last. You could also use another grain (brown rice? millet?) just to throw in fiber. Mostly because you can.

Divide the batter into two loaf pans. Bake for 25 minutes. Rotate pans and bake for 25 more minutes. Turn oven down to 325 and bake for 10-15 minutes more until bread is a golden brown with a cracked top and a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Good for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert!

PB Sammy Cookies

Can we talk about peanut butter for a second?

Is that even a real question? As you may recall, I. Love. Peanut Butter. I cannot imagine children who are allergic to peanuts. It must be tramatizing.

Sorry. That was mean. I just can’t imagine my life without pb! Something as good as peanut butter deserves a top-ten list:

Top 10 Reasons I love Peanut Butter:

10. You can pair peanut butter with meat.

9. You can pair peanut butter with vegetables.

8. You can pair peanut butter with fruit.

7. You can pair peanut butter with grains:

Put peanut butter in your oatmeal! Do it!

6. You can pair peanut butter with dairy. (That’s every food group I just paired peanut butter with!)

5. Peanut butter can be eaten with lots of different devices: knives, spoons, forks, fingers

4. There is a peanut butter for everyone!

I like the fake kind for baking

3. I eat peanut butter when I’m happy!

2. I eat peanut butter when I’m sad!

1. Number one reason I love peanut butter? It can be nutritious. It can be unhealthy. It can be anything you want it to be! What’s not to love?

These cookies are kind of like home-made Nutter Butters.

I’m into that.

I’m going to go ahead and confess right now that I used granulated sugar in the filling by accident (as opposed to confectioners). It was grittier. But no less delicious. Peanut Butter. Somethin to stand for:

Recipe from here.

1/2 cup (1 stick)

butter, at room temp

3/4 cup smooth peanut butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

Filling:

2 cups crunchy peanut butter

1/2 cup butter, at room temp

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375. Line baking sheets with parchment.

In a mixing bowl, mix butter and peanut butter until fully combined (about 2-3 minutes). Add granulated sugar and brown sugar and mix until light and fluffy. Then add the egg and beat for another minute.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Gradually add to your peanut butter mixture with mixer on low speed. Refridgerate for 30 minutes.

While the cookie dough is chillin, make your fillin:

Beat together peanut butter, butter, and heavy cream for about 2 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until fully combined.

When the dough is chilled, drop about 1 tbs of slightly rounded dough onto cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Dip a fork in granulated sugar and press down slightly on the tops to get your fork-marks. Bake for 7-10 minutes.

Let the cookies cool for as long as you can stand it on a rack. Use a knife to put about 1.5 tbs (or as much as you like!) on the bottom side of one cookie and top with the bottom side of another cookie! This just got good! (I had pleeenty of leftover filling so don’t be shy with it!)

Bon Appetit!

CinnaMONEY Rolls

I made these little biddies for brunch last weekend. Here’s the thing. I’m not gonna lie to you. There are a lot of steps involved in making cinnamoney rolls from scratch. I’m not saying they’re difficult steps. It’s just a lot of steps.

I want to be honest and upfront with you about this. Mostly because all of the blogs I perused to find a recipe taunted me by telling me they “made them for breakfast this morning!” Well, here’s the thing. You would have had to get up 4 hours before breakfast if that were true. Don’t try and convince me you did that.

Or the other blog that told me about how when you’re sad, you make cinnamon rolls. Yeah? You’re depressed and willing to wait 4 hours for gratification? We must have different definitions of sad. When I’m sad, I need something more instant. Like Hershey’s Hugs. Those work well. Or a box of Oreos. That could suffice…. but making cinnamon rolls? Please.

What I’m trying to say is 1) Make these little friends the night before! Let them rise in the fridge so you can bake them in the morning! Still a lot of steps, but I’m saving you valuable hours of beauty rest here.

and 2) if someone ever makes cinnamoney rolls for you, they love you a whole whole lot.  I made these for my family and B, both of which I love a whole whole lot so it worked out well!

I hope I haven’t deterred you too much from making these. MAKE THEM! LOVE PEOPLE A WHOLE WHOLE LOT! Bake something with lots of steps so that it is 2389 times more rewarding! DO IT!

Recipe adapted from here:

Dough:

1 package active dry yeast

1/2 tsp. plus 1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk at room temp.

1 egg

1 egg yolk

2 3/4 cups flour, sifted*.

3/4 tsp salt

1 stick unsalted butter, very soft

Filling:

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 tbs cinnamon

pinch of salt

pinch of ground cloves

2 tbs maple syrup

4 oz. cream cheese

4 tbs. butter, melted

Dough:

If you have a mixer and a dough hook, you are in luck! If you have a hand mixer and no other fancy attachments… well it’s going to get messy. But it can be done!

Start by combining yeast, 1/2 tsp sugar*, and 1/4 cup water heated to 115 degrees (until the water is hot to the touch of the underside of your wrist!). Stir it a little and let it proof for about 10 minutes until foamy. Add remaining sugar, light brown sugar, milk, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk*.  Beat on low speed until fully combined. Add your flour and salt and mix on medium until dough forms. Then mix a little longer (this would be in place of “kneading.” The dough is too wet for traditional kneading but the idea is the same: make that dough smooth).

Remove bowl from mixer. Cover with plastic and a towel and let rise for 2 hours in a warm place.

Get your filling ready: mix together sugars, salt, cinnamon, and cloves. Then mix in maple syrup*.

When the dough is doubled in size, punch it down (something very rewarding about this). Turn it out on a very heavily floured surface. Knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Now, roll the dough into a square (about 10×10). Using a mixer or knife, “whip” the cream cheese until spreadable. Then spread it over the top of your dough square.

Fold the dough into thirds like you’re about to put it in an envelope and mail it to your best friend. Then fold it again in thirds so you have a nice compact square. Now roll that down (again. rewarding). Roll into about a 10 x 20 rectangle.

Brush the top of your dough rectangle with the melted butter (be generous). Then, using your hands or whatever feels right, spread the filling on top of the dough, slightly pressing the filling into the dough. Leave a small 1” perimeter without filling around the corner of the dough*.

Now the fun part! Roll the dough (kind of tightly) into a dough log. Cut into 8-9 slices and arrange in a well-buttered 9×13 baking dish. How pretty is that!?

Cover with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge to rise over night (or if you’re the crazy who woke up 4 hours in advance, let rise another 2 hours).

Sleep.

Wake up! Take the happy rolls out of the fridge and let rest for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375. Bake about 30 minutes (I did more like 25). While your rolls are baking prepare the icing:

Icing:

2 cups confectioners sugar

1/4 cup buttermilk.

Whisk them together! Add more sugar if you want thicker icing. Add more buttermilk if you want thinner.

After the rolls come out of the oven use a spoon to drizzle the icing goodness all over the cinnaMONEY roll goodness. EAT!

*Anytime you see an asterisk is a place that I messed up when making these and did something wrong. Just know that even though I forgot to sift my flour; used the whole 1/4 cup sugar to let the yeast proof; thought that the “egg yolk” said “egg white” and added a white instead of a yolk, and then corrected it by adding the yolk and therefore used two eggs; didn’t have maple syrup and just used plain old log cabin syrup; and left way too big of a filling-less perimeter around the dough pre-rolling, these still turned out GREAT! Yes. Baking is a science. But don’t be deterred if you miss a step! Things have a way of working out.

Brunch!

This weekend I had the pleasure of making brunch for my family (Mom was in town!)… this was the second brunch I’ve hosted and I think it went much smoother than the first. My main goal was to not have to do too much cooking in the morning (as B will tell you, I can become a stress case the morning of)… Here’s the menu:

Spinach Gruyere Strata

Cinnamoney Rolls

Fruit Salad

Sausage

I made a quick little bread for jam and butter when people arrived and also had some mimosas, coffee, and tea. Easy and delicious. I really feel brunch is one of the best meals ever created. I wish we brunched every day. It’s mostly just giant breakfast. And personally, I believe breakfast is the only meal worth paying for…

All of the recipes are forthcoming but today, we’re talking strata. I didn’t know what strata was for most of my life. In fact, the only reason I ever looked up a recipe for it was, embarrassingly, The Family Stone. Have you seen it? It’s a chick flick. That takes place at Christmas. (My favorite things!). Sarah Jessica Parker makes a strata for Christmas brunch that ends up on the floor… but the real point is that strata is a perfect brunch item. You prepare it the day before. Let it sit in the fridge overnight and absorb lots of goodness. Stick in the oven in the morning and voila! Strata!

You start by sauteing onions, add some seasoning, throw in some thawed frozen spinach. Kitchen smells gooooood.

Loooots of eggs get together. Whisk in some milk, dijon, goodness.

Layer it up like lasagna. Fridge it overnight. Bake it in the morning….

Adapted from here:

1 large chopped onion

Salt and pepper to taste

1 10 oz. package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess juices

1/4 tsp nutmeg

9 eggs

2 3/4 cups milk

2 tbs. Dijon mustard

2 cups grated gruyere

1 cup grated parmesan

1/2 pound french bread cubed

Grease a three quart baking dish. Set aside.

Saute the onions until translucent with some salt and pepper (about 5-7 minutes). Add nutmeg, saute about a minute more. Add spinach until warmed through. Set aside.

Whisk eggs, milk, and dijon in a large bowl. Transfer about half to a liquid measuring cup or other sort of pitcher that will make it easier to pour.

Layer 1/3 bread cubes followed by 1/3 spinach and onion mixture, and then 1/3 each cheese. Continue layering, finishing with the cheeses. Then, carefully pour the egg mixture over the layers. I didn’t end up using all of it, be careful not to over-fill. But everyone’s dish is a little different. Trust your judgment.

Cover with saran wrap or aluminum foil and put in fridge overnight (at least 8 hours).

In the morning, take the dish out of the fridge and let rest for about 30 minutes while the oven preheats to 350 degrees. Bake, uncovered for 45-55 minutes until the strata is “puffed” and slightly golden.

Eat it up!

Brownie Town

This blog is supposed to be about baking! I’ve kind of veered off the path the past few posts, it’s time to get back to my roots. Brownies. A good stand by that can make anyone happy. Maybe you’ve been having ice cream for dessert and are getting bored? Add some brownies to that ice cream! Upgrade!

These little guys were hanging out outside my window. Chickies like brownies too!

Prepared.

 Look at that flour jar. I love having my baking ingredients in jars like that. I’m on the hunt for a good jar for sugar. Ideas welcome.

Mixing the dry into the wet. And yes, that may or may not be french fries that just came out of the oven in the corner there. No need for judgment.

Brownies and ice cream! Match made in heaven.

Recipe adapted from here:

-½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
-8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped if you’re using blocks
-1/4 cup cocoa powder
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-1 ¼ cups sugar
-1/2 tsp salt
-3 large eggs
-1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350. Butter the bottom and sides of an 8×8 baking dish. Use loooots of butter for the bottom so the brownies will come out cleanly.

Prepare your dry ingredients: whisk together cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and flour. Set aside.

Temper your chocolate: place chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl and set over pan on the stove with simmering water. You want to make sure the water level is low enough so it’s not going to touch the bottom of your bowl… stir occasionally until almost completely melted. Remove from heat and stir until fully melted and combined.

Whisk in your sugar into the melty chocolate butter mixture until smooth. Mix in the eggs.

Add your dry ingredients into the mix slowly until fully incorporated but avoid over-mixing. I used a whisk for this, but would recommend a spatula at this point in the game.

At this point you could also add in some walnuts? Or maybe chocolate chips? White chocolate chips? Go wild.

Pour batter into dish. Stick it in the oven and let cook for 40-50 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean. The instruction say to let cool completely in dish. Good luck waiting that long before digging in! Enjoy!

My Favorite Things!

Once upon a time, my mom sent me a fun little story that included an excerpt from a dog’s (and cat’s) diary:

8:00 am – Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am – A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am – A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am – Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm – Lunch! My favorite thing!

I try to incorporate this enthusiasm about my day-to-day things that would otherwise be nothing but typical. I’ve picked five of MY FAVORITE THINGS! to share with you:

I saw my mom last weekend in Portland and she gave me this spatula. Red belongs in the kitchen. And red spatulas make baking more fun! Thanks Mom!

I am really into pastel nail polish this summer. This is my current fav (Essie’s Lilacism). I also have spaghetti strap pink on my toes!! I don’t know why I’m holding this shell. It just felt right. Oh and all these pics are instagrams. Because I’m feeling artsy.

Bianchi! B! This is not just MY FAVORITE THING! right now… this is my favorite thing always. My most prized posession. I rode her to work for the first time from my new place yesterday! She loved it! She makes me feel beautiful. And athletic. And hip. And environmentally friendly! What more could a girl want?

Ok, so this isn’t really a favorite thing. But I’m trying to be excited about it because I sure do spend a lot of time with it. I’m taking the LSAT again. Did I tell you? Yeah. It’s a long story. I don’t know why I’m doing this to myself. For the next two months it’s gonna be me and you, Mr. Testmaster. My favorite thing?

Look at those sunnies. Gafas de sol. Sunnies of my soul. I’ve already introduced you to them here, but I still love them. I would wear them inside my office if it was allowed. Much like my bianchi, they make me feel beautiful. Thank you, sunnies.

Hoorah! My favorite things! What are yours?!