Boozy Banana Bread (with Imperfections)

Happy almost New Year! It’s a lazy Sunday and I figured we could end the year with a great cup of coffee and some Bourbon Spiked Chocolate Banana Bread!

My first attempt, didn’t turn out so well…
Imperfect Banana Bread
So what happened? Well, my oven was giving me problems. The temperature was fluctuating so the loaf didn’t set properly. I added LARGE chocolate chips which made the batter too heavy. Between those two things, the loaf fell apart when I took it out of the pan. On the upside, I learned not to add so many chips when they are that big and always, always double-check the temperature of my oven! Overall, it wasn’t a total failure. I turned this mistake into something fabulous! But that’s for another post…

Thankfully, I had enough ingredients to make another loaf! This one turned out better, don’t you think?
Boozy Banana Bread
This was my first time baking with Bourbon. I love Brandy in pan gravy, I use Vodka to make homemade Vanilla extract and I may have been known to add an occasional splash of Spiced Rum to my Cola, but the Bourbon was new for me. Can I tell you a secret? It’s AMAZING in this recipe! I love the boozy flavor, hence Boozy Banana Bread. It just adds that perfect touch to the classic chocolate and banana flavor combination.
Jim Bean Bourbon

Boozy Banana Bread
Inspired by Joy The Baker’s “Mommom’s chocolate bourbon-spiked banana bread”

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 TBLS baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups mashed rip bananas
1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 TBLS bourbon
2/3 cup chopped pecans
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 – 5 minutes.
Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add bananas, lemon juice and bourbon. Beat until well incorporated.
Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture all at once. Beat until incorporated. Add the pecans and chocolate chips and stir together gently with a spatula.
Spoon the mixture into your prepared loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow the loaf to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely!

Enjoy!!

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The Top 12 of 2012!

The year is drawing to a close. As we say goodbye to 2012, I want to share with you the Top 12 posts of the year (according to Word Press!) It’s been fabulously delicious journey and I am looking forward to seeing what new things we can eat and experience together in 2013!

Number 12: Follow That Chef – Kirsten Gum!
Chef Kirsten Gum
Kirsten is a crack up! She is one of the most down to earth and vibrant people I met this year. I was blessed not only to follow her around the Santa Monica Farmers Market, but also take several other classes with her at The Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories. Coming in at Number 12 and the ONLY Follow That Chef to make it into the top 12!

Number 11: Ghirardelli Brownies!
IMG_2145
I have never been shy about being a self-proclaimed “Ghirardelli Girl” (that really should be trademarked!) I made these brownies after the Ghirardelli outlet opened just a few miles from my house. The girl working there suggested this recipe to another customer and I was HOOKED! The variations of these brownies are only limited to your favorite flavor of Ghirardelli chocolate squares!

Number 10: Chocolate Covered Strawberries with Cheesecake Filling!
Chocolate Covered Strawberries with Cheesecake Filling!
These were a Valentines Day treat I made for my store team. As I recall, I had to make two batches because they disappeared so quickly! They are a sweet combination of three of my favorite things!

Number 9: PBK Brownie Bars!
PBK Brownie Bars
Brownies layered with peanuts and chopped peanut butter cups,then covered with chocolate rice crispy treats. I made them originally as bowling snacks and they took off from there! My very first guest post on another blog, I shared these brownies! I took them to the Share Our Strength LA Food Bloggers Bake Sale this year and have made them several times since. If you haven’t tried them yet, you’re missing out!

Number 8: Sweet Heaven Bars
Sweet Heaven Bars
Another bowling snack favorite! Chocolate chips, Toffee Chips and a gooey Caramel Center! It’s a triple threat of awesome-ness!

Number 7: Chocolate dipped Potato Chip Cookies!
Chocolate and Potato Chip Cookies
Thanks to Smitten Kitchen and Chef Emeril Lagasse, these cookies have quickly become a family favorite! A brilliant way to use the crumbs at the bottom of a potato chip bag. They go from brilliant to legendary when you dip them in chocolate. YUM!

Number 6: Bacon wrapped Jalapeño Poppers!
Bacon wrapped Jalapeño Poppers
We’ve made these for Christmas Parties, New Years Eve Parties, Superbowl Parties, Fourth of July celebrations! They are perfect for any celebration really! For a simple vegetarian version, just omit the bacon.

Number 5: Chocolate Caramel Surprise Crackle Cookies!
Chocolate Crackle Cookies with a caramel center
The most recent of my posts to make it into the top 12, these Chocolate Caramel Surprise Crackle Cookies are deceptively simple to make and very hard to resist! The caramel center is a sweet surprise hidden in these indulgent cookies!

Number 4: Chocolate Chip Cookie and Oreo Brownie Bars
Chocolate Chip and Oreo Brownie Bars
Another layered bar from our bowling days! My youngest son made these recently for a “Bake Off” at work. That’s right, my boy bakes! He won first prize with them too. 🙂 They are very decadent!

Number 3: Zucchini and Potato Pancakes!
Zucchini and Potato Pancakes
I am so happy these savory pancakes made it into the top 5! This was one of the first recipes I made from my Sunday’s With Joy cooking group. Cooking and baking our way through Joy The Bakers cookbook has been awesome. I’ve learned so much from Joy and from our group! There are so many talented people out there! Plus, I love Zucchini and this post has some of my favorite photos too. Food as art! Who knew?!?!

Number 2: Santa Hat Brownie Bites!
Santa Hat Brownie Bites
Adorable little brownie bites with frosting and a strawberry “hat” on top! These are perfect treats for Christmas parties! P.S. They are kind of like potato chips… no one can eat just one!

We’ve made it all the way to #1! DRUM ROLL PLEASE! Taking the top spot by a landslide…

NUMBER 1: Melted Snowman Cookies!!
Melted Snowman Cookies
I LOVE the expressions on these cookies! They are my greatest accomplishment in cookie making thus far. They are also probably part of the reason most of you are here, so THANK YOU for that!!

Hmmm… in looking over this list, I wonder if I should be concerned that nine of the top twelve are desserts, eight have chocolate in them, five are made with brownies and only two are savory? Nahhhh! It’s just been a SWEET year!

Thank you so much for joining me on my culinary adventures! I hope the coming year brings bright blessings for all of us and perhaps a few more savory items. 😉

S’mores Brownies!

S'mores Brownies

Oh brownies… how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee with chocolate chips mixed into your chocolatey batter.
I love thee with swirls of gooey caramel and chunks of walnuts.
I love thee frosted and topped with crushed peppermint candies.
I love thee layered with peanuts, chopped peanut butter cups and topped with chocolate rice krispies! (PBK Brownies)

And now… thanks to Joy the Baker, I love thee with graham crackers and marshmallows!

These remind me of summers, sitting around a campfire with the kids, making S’mores and singing silly songs. It’s winter now, but wouldn’t it be fun to make these when you have a blanket tent set up in the living room for a sleepover? There are some awesome Mom points right there!

No matter when you make them, I know you’ll love them!

S’mores Brownies
Recipe from Joy The Baker

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
5 large eggs
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup graham cracker, roughly crushed
12 big marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9×13-inch baking pan (or you can you non-stick cooking spray too!) Set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and espresso powder in small bowl. Set this aside too!

Using a double boiler, with two inches of simmering water, stir chocolate and butter until melted and smooth. Allow to cool for a few minutes before continuing.

Once cooled slightly, whisk the sugars into the chocolate. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. Stir in the vanilla, then your flour mixture. Carefully fold in the crushed graham crackers.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Dot with 12 large marshmallows and sprinkle with a few additional graham crackers. Bake about 30 – 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.

The marshmallows will be browned and fairly puffy, but will deflate as they cool. Let the brownies cool for about 20 minutes before slicing them. You will need to clean the knife under hot running water as you cut these because the marshmallows can get sticky!

Toasted S'mores Brownies
Enjoy!

Double Stuffed Mini Potatoes

Double Stuffed Mini Potatoes

Our annual family Christmas party means two things. One: people will be LOUD! I married into a family of talkers. Everyone together means everyone tries to talk over the other person and occasionally (always) it can get quite loud in the house. Two: there will be tables full of amazing food. We have a few standard favorites, but for the most part, we try different types of appetizers and desserts each year. Last year I did Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers and the Santa Hat Brownies. This year, I made S’mores Brownies, Avocado Fries and these Double Stuffed Mini Red Potatoes. They are a bit time-consuming to make, but I promise they are worth every cheesy bite!

DOUBLE STUFFED MINI POTATOES

Ingredients:
Approx 2 lbs small red potatoes
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1 head roasted garlic, smashed to a paste
1 1/4 tsp salt, divided
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1 tsp fresh dill
1/2 cup finely grated extra sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/4 cup finely grated Monterey Jack Cheese
1/4 cup, plus 2 TBLS Chives, diced

Directions:
Heat oven to 400 F.
Put potatoes in a large pot, cover completely with water and 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a boil. Boil until fork tender (about 8-10 minutes). Drain potatoes and let cool. Cut each potato in half crosswise. You may need to cut a tiny sliver off the ends of each potato so they will stand up. Carefully use a small melon baller to scoop out the center of each potato. Be sure to leave about a 1/4-inch thick shell.
Place the scooped potato pulp in a bowl and add the cream cheese, sour cream, garlic paste, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, and dill. Use a potato masher and smash together until well combined. Mix in the cheeses and 1/4 cup chives and set aside.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Set potato shells on the sheet and sprinkle the inside of the shells with the remaining 1/4 tsp salt. Spoon the potato mixture evenly into the potato shells and bake about 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Garnish with remaining Chives!

Mini Red Potato Bites

I made these vegetarian for our daughter. However, my husband says they would be even better with bacon! What couldn’t be made better with bacon? If you add bacon, you’ll need about 6 slices, cooked till crisp and crumbled. Add them into the potato mash when you add the cheeses and chives. You could even save an extra slice to use for garnish! Either way, these disappear quickly! Enjoy!!

Sundays With Joy – Perfect Hot Chocolate!

It’s cold, gray and overcast. My husband put up Christmas lights in the soft drizzle falling outside. We decorated our Christmas tree. Holiday music is playing quietly in the background of our day. It’s the perfect time for a cup of piping hot chocolate! Warm milk, melted chocolate and a dash of espresso powder all came together for this sweet afternoon treat!

Perfect Hot Chocolate!

Joy’s recipe makes Hot Chocolate for two. I love that I can dig into the pantry and come out with leftover chocolates to melt together for a quick cup of delicious goodness to share with my sweetheart.

This morning I made a batch of homemade Honey Marshmallows and they were a perfect addition to our Hot Chocolate!
Marshmallows

With the recent shootings in Connecticut, our hearts are broken that many families won’t be celebrating this holiday with lights, trees and cups of perfect hot chocolate. To them, we send our condolences, prayers and love at this very difficult time.

Rememberance

Apple Bundle Bites

Lately we’ve made a serious effort to move away from pre-packaged foods, but there are times when a quick dinner (or dessert) wouldn’t be possible without them! When you want something sweet and you don’t have a lot of time, these delicious little apple bundle bites are just what the Dr. ordered!

Ingredients

1 canister of Crescent Roll dough (I used Pillsbury)
2 TBLS brown sugar
1 TBLS Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1 TBLS granulated sugar
2 TBLS melted butter
1 large Apple, cored and cut into 8 wedges

Directions:
Heat oven to 350 (or whatever temperature the canister suggests)
Mix the sugars and spices in a small bowl and set it aside.
Unroll the dough and separate into 8 triangles. Brush each triangle with melted butter.

Sprinkle each triangle with approx 2 tsp of sugar mix.
Place one apple wedge on the pointed end of the dough triangle and roll!

Once all the apples are rolled, brush the tops of the bundles with the remaining melted butter and sprinkle with the rest of the sugar mix.

Bake on a parchment covered cookie tray for 10-12 minutes.

Let the apple bundles cool for a few minutes before serving them.

These are perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or as hand-held treat while you’re watching a movie on the couch!

Enjoy!

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