Basic One-Bowl Blondies

>
I’m one of those people that thinks it’s really fun to be in the kitchen all day, whipping up something fancy and delicious. I love desserts with multiple steps and ingredients, I can plan every detail out weeks in advance. Perfect example, my birthday cake. It required cake, chocolate ganache, vanilla bean mousse, and vanilla butter cream. And it was awesome. But I’m also one of those people that can be sitting on the couch and have an immediate urge to bake something. In those times I need something quick, reliable, delicious, and maybe even versatile. That’s why I think every baker, beginner, novice, advanced, whatever, should have a few basic go-to recipes.

I think the staple “basic” recipes in baking are Chocolate Chip Cookies, Brownies, Blondies, and good Yellow and Chocolate Cake. I’ve already shared my go-to Chocolate Chip Cookies and Brownies, and thought that in the next few weeks (while I’m totally overwhelmed with packing, preparing, cleaning and looking for a good reason to procrastinate on those things) I’d share my baking go-tos. Because that’s the point of them, they’re not overly complicated, they don’t take a ton of time, and they’re still delicious. Good basics, that I can whip up while procrastinating packing.

These Blondies can made in one bowl and are great jumping off point for pretty much any flavor combination. When I made these I had a handful of random chips that I threw in, butterscotch, white chocolate, and semi-sweet, but really the sky is the limit. Have left over Christmas or Halloween candy? Chop it up and throw it in. In the mood for nuts? Chop them up and throw them in. Go wild and get creative!

The only other thing I want to add is that I have a horrible habit of way under-cooking my Blondies. I usually take mine out a minute or two less than the written time because I like it when the center is barely done and gooey and messy. Before I was able to stack these for the picture I actually had to throw them in the fridge to firm up. If that’s not how you like them then don’t take them out early and make sure to test with a toothpick. If it comes out clean you should be good. If it looks wet or comes out with dough on it, let it cook a few minutes longer.


Basic One-Bowl Blondies

Ingredients
7 Tbsp butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1 Tbsp flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 – 1 cup mix-in of your choice (I used chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and butterscotch chips)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 baking pan.

In a large microwave safe bowl melt the butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. Add the brown sugar to the melted butter and stir to combine. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Add 1 cup of flour, baking powder and salt and mix until combined. Toss the mix-ins with 1 Tbsp flour and fold into the batter. Pour into the prepared baking pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the center is set and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool to room temperature before cutting into squares.

Adapted from Deborah’s Culinary Confections, originally from Baking Blonde’s Weblog

Easy Turtle Brownies

 

It’s Sweet Friday again and today I bring you Easy Turtle Brownies. I wanted to title this post “Crazy Easy One Bowl Turtle Brownies” but I thought that might be a little long. These are however crazy easy to make, and they do only require one bowl. Perfect for a weeknight chocolate craving.

I do have a go-to recipe that I have dubbed my favorite but in my opinion a girl can never have too many ways to make a brownie. If you haven’t noticed, there is a salted caramel craze across the foodie world. So I drew some inspiration from that – and a bottle of Hershey’s caramel sauce that I found hidden on my refrigerator door shelf. I also had a bag of pecan pieces in the cabinet. That’s how the wheels starting turning.

I thought these brownies were fabulous. The bit of brown sugar I subbed in the brownies gave the chocolate an extra caramely and chewy kick. And every so often I would get a nice bite of kosher salt. They also had my ideal brownie texture, chewy, fudgelike, and moist. Jesse on the other hand liked them but still thought they were too “wet.” He prefers a much more cake like brownie so I wasn’t at all surprised. Just keep that in mind, if you prefer drier cake like brownies, these aren’t it.

Crazy Easy One Bowl Turtle Brownies
(Brownie adapted from Hershey’s, idea inspired by The Novice Chef)

Ingredients
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/3 cup cocoa powder*
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Hershey’s Caramel Syrup (or another brand of caramel, or make you’re own if you’re up to it)
Pecan pieces, optionally toasted
*I used half Hershey’s special dark and half regular cocoa powder, you can use a combination or whichever you have on hand.

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 baking dish (or if you’re like me and resisting this purchase, just use a 9 inch pie pan).

Melt the butter in a microwave safe mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon, stir the sugars into the melted butter. Add the vanilla and eggs and stir until well combined. Add the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and kosher salt to the bowl. Without breaking into the liquid ingredients below, give the dry ingredients a few stirs with a fork, then use your wooden spoon to incorporate into the liquid ingredients. Stir until you no longer see the flour.

Pour half of the batter into the greased pan and spread with a spatula (or save dishes and just use the wooden spoon). Drizzle the batter with the caramel syrup, being careful to keep it a 1/4 inch away from the edges. Pour in the rest of the batter. Drizzle with a little more caramel syrup then swirl with the spatula (or wooden spoon). Drop a small handful of pecans on top.

Bake for 20 minutes**, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool then slice into even squares or wedges and serve with a LARGE glass of milk.

**Because of the caramel syrup these were a little bubbly when baking, probably not the prettiest brownies I’ve ever made, but that’s OK. Don’t be scared when they don’t have box-perfect shiny crispy crust on top.

Black and Tan Brownies

>

One of the first things Jesse asked when we landed back in the states was, “So what are you going to bake?” Hmmm, good question. I had spent the last 5 weeks drooling over everyone else’s blog updates and I had so many ideas that I almost had no ideas at all. So I had to sit and think a little while.

When we made our first trip to the grocery stores I could tell his sweet tooth was settling in when a bag of Golden Oreos found their way into our cart. Have you tried these yet? Jesse and Sean are absolutely addicted to them. I love chocolate so I didn’t think I would like them, but there is just something about them, so good! I don’t even buy them because I know if I do the bag will be gone in one night.

However on this occasion, instead of fighting the stow-away Golden Oreos, I started thinking of a way I could use them to my baking advantage. I tossed around bar cookies with a peanut pairing (and those will be coming soon!) but in the end what I really wanted was CHOCOLATE. But how could Golden Oreos satisfy my chocolate craving? Then out of the blue it hit me, Black and Tan! Like the drink, where thick and rich Guinness mysteriously floats over top of a smooth pale ale. What if I created a thick and rich brownie that could mysteriously float over a smooth pale oreo?? Jackpot.

I was pretty pleased with the results. Just for fun, I’m still toying around with another variation of this dessert, but everyone was perfectly satisfied with this version. Give a try today and let me know how it goes!!

Black and Tan Brownies
(Sunny Side Up Original Idea; Brownie adapted from My Baking Addiction Cookie)

Ingredients
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate; coarsely chopped
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
12 Golden Oreos

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a microwave safe glass bowl, melt the butter and coarsely chopped chocolate on 50% power for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and stir with a rubber spatula. Return to microwave in 30 second increments until you can stir and the chocolate looks smooth, even in color, and melted through.

Add the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt to the chocolate and stir to combine. Gradually add the flour and stir just until combined.

Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray. Place a Golden Oreo in the bottom of each muffin cup. Fill each muffin cup a little more than halfway full with brownie batter (it should be just enough to fill all 12). Use the back of a spoon to smooth the tops. Bake for 15-16 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Careful not to over bake (like me!).

When Life Gives You Lemons

>
I worked really hard in nursing school and right about now it would be truly fantastic to be working as a registered nurse. Unfortunately, contrary to popular belief, the market for new graduate nurses right now just, well, sucks. Finding a job as a registered nurse without at least 2 years experience is difficult. Getting a job at a hospital, almost impossible. Here in San Diego the major hospitals all offer New Graduate Residency programs that start once or twice a year. Awesome, I thought, when I read about them. The programs run for about 10 weeks and it includes didactic lectures as well as hands on nursing work with a preceptor.

Back in January when I graduated and moved to San Diego I thought, well, I’ll just apply to that program, have a few months off before it starts, then jump right into the program and start my dream job. HA! If I only knew then. I applied for the programs, along with half of Southern California. For the Children’s hospital there were approximately 24 positions, 12 of which went to internal candidates. The other 12 positions? Roughly 500 or so recent graduates competed for those. I think you can guess how that ended.

Lucky for me I was able to find something to keep me occupied until the right nursing job and I meet. Working as a nanny has it’s ups and downs. The girls can be really fun, sometimes a touch stubborn, but most days I really enjoy spending time with them. It’s also great to have a little bit of work each day and also a little bit of free time. It’s also allowing me the freedom to take my upcoming trip to China. Another perk is the lemon tree in they have in the backyard that I am welcome to pick from.


Just a week ago I picked my first ever lemon off of a tree. C, the oldest, helped me pick some ripe ones. I told her I wanted to make lemon bars and she got really excited. I have made this recipe before and I really like it. Because they are creamy, almost like cheesecake, they are enjoyed even by people that don’t typically like lemon bars. So if life is giving you lemons, make these creamy lemon squares!


Creamy Lemon Squares
(Adapted from Kraft)

3/4 cup NILLA Wafers, finely crushed (about 20 wafers)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream Cheese, softened (I use 1/3 reduced fat)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp lemon zest, divided
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp baking Powder
2 tsp. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degress.

Line an 8×8 pan with foil. In a medium bowl combine the crushed wafers, flour, and brown sugar with a fork. Using a pastry blender, or 2 forks, work the butter into the mixture until it starts to resembles wet sand. Pour the mixture into the bottom of the pan and press down to completely cover the bottom. I like to use the bottom of a flat glass or measuring cup to make sure it’s evenly spread out. Bake for 15 minutes.

Wipe out any remaining crumbs from the mixing bowl. Then add the cream cheese and sugar and beat with a mixer until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until combined. Finally beat in the flour, lemon zest, lemon juice and baking powder. Pour over the baked crust.

Bake for 25-28 minutes or until the center starts to set and the edges are just starting to pull from the sides. Let cool completely then refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Cut into squares and sprinkle with powdered sugar for serving.