There are many things in life that I crave on a weekly basis, and ice cream (along with Doritos, and cinnamon toast, and stinky cheese) is one of those. However, ice cream, at least for me, is a seasonal craving. It’s a “summer and I’m hot, and I want something cold” type of craving. One that usually doesn’t strike me, say, in mid-December. But I do have an everyday craving; a “dream-about-it, must-have-it, it’s-so-indulgent-I’m-embarrassed-to-even-admit-it” type of craving. What is it, you ask? Wait for it…it’s bananas dipped in peanut butter, then rolled in chocolate chips. I know, right?! Go ahead, take a minute to judge me, I don’t mind… Okay, are we ready to move on? Good. So this weekend when I was trying to figure out how to reward myself for going to the gym for 5 days straight, I started having visions of all of my favorite foods floating past me, mixing into one glorious frozen treat. And then it hit me! What if I threw everything I love into my brand-spanking new ice cream maker and created the world’s best ice cream? Brilliant! Continue reading
Every year around the beginning of July (specifically July 7th), I’m reminded of how much my husband hates celebrating his birthday. I mean HATES celebrating his birthday. I’m not exaggerating here, he hates his birthday the way other people hate poison ivy and spiders. His loathing of any type recognition on his day not only borders on bah-humbugness, but it goes against every grain in my party-planning body. See, I love birthdays. And not just mine, either, I love everybody’s birthday. I love the cakes and the presents and the balloons, and all the other hoopla that goes along with a throwing big fete. To not celebrate his birthday every year is torturous for me, which is why I do it anyway. BUT, I do it very slyly, almost stealth-like, so that he doesn’t even notice that he’s celebrating. I begrudgingly forgo the streamers and the decorations, and instead opt for a few cards and unwrapped gifts, followed by a nice dinner at his favorite restaurant (and as much as I’d love to see him flush, I don’t ask the waiters to parade out and sing to him). And above all, and this is very important, there are no candles, and the cake comes in the form of a cookie. A birthday cake cookie! Pretty sneaky, right? Continue reading
I’m just gonna put something out there right off the bat: these blondes are sinful, just sinful. They’re the kind of dessert that you can’t stay away from once you try. The kind that you think, How did I go my whole life without these delicious treats and how can I eat the rest of the pan without anyone noticing? – that’s how good they are. So go ahead, make a pan and then tell me if I’m crazy for loving them. You’ll see.
Salted Caramel & Chocolate Blondies
- ¾ butter, melted
- 3 cups brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1½ tsp. vanilla
- 2½ cups flour
- 3 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ cup dark chocolate chips, melted*
- ½ cup caramel sauce, heated slightly to thin
- Flaky sea salt for sprinkling (such as Maldon)
- 1 bamboo skewer
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 13×9-inch, high-sided** baking pan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or another large bowl, beat butter and sugar until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until incorporated.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour to butter mixture in two incorporations, beating between each addition until smooth. Pour batter into prepared baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Melt chocolate and heat caramel.
Also using a spoon or small spatula, drizzle chocolate in a thin straight line running the length of the pan, alternating with the caramel.
Wipe the skewer clean with a paper towel and repeat in the other direction, running from right to left, about ½-inch down from the first line.
Continue to drag lines across the top of the batter, alternating direction with each line until you run out of room. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the center is set. Remove from oven, place on a cooling rack and immediately sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
Finally, try not to eat the entire pan in one sitting.
*Note on melting chocolate: I like to melt my butter in a coffee cup in the microwave. After I’ve emptied the butter out of the cup, I add the ½ cup of chocolate chips and microwave for 30 seconds, stir, then finish it with another 30 second blast. The little bit of butter on the inside of the cup helps the chocolate from getting dry and crumbly under the high heat. For the caramel I used jarred caramel sauce, then heated it in a coffee cup for 30 seconds.
**Note on the pan: I developed this recipe in my head about a month ago, jotted it down, then tested the recipe one rainy afternoon and it was a major bust! It tasted great, but I idiotically chose to put it in a square baking dish, which was way too small, resulting in cooked edges with a pool of molten lava batter in the center. Undeterred, I tried it again with a 13×9-inch cookie sheet, but the sides were way too short, resulting in a hot mess on the bottom of my oven…
So when I say a high-sided baking pan, I mean a HIGH-SIDED baking pan. Live and learn, I guess!
Sopapillas are a traditional Mexican dessert consisting of fried dough that’s been sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar then drizzled with honey. Ohmygod my mouth started watering just typing that sentence. Okay, now you’ve all had elephant ears at the fair, right? Yeah, well these are so much better. I don’t know why, but they are. Maybe it’s the honey. Maybe it’s the Mexican flare. Or maybe it’s just me. But this dessert is the single most thing I look forward to whenever we go out for Mexican food. Forget the chips and salsa, I’m all about the sopapillas.
Now normally I like to do things the right way. I’m about making the dough by hand, letting it rise, rolling it out, and frying it in small batches. When time permits. But when you have a house full of hungry guests who have been drinking daiquiris and noshing on street tacos, there’s no way you’re gonna to want to pull yourself away from the party to cook up a labor-intensive dessert. At least I wouldn’t. So why not opt for something simpler. Let’s all just agree to skip the kneading and rolling this Cinco de Mayo and throw a bunch of tortillas into the fryer instead!
Super Easy Sopapillas
- vegetable oil, roughly ¼-½ cup
- 4-6 small flour tortillas (fajita size works well)
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
Cut each tortilla into 4 wedges, set aside. In a small bowl, mix cinnamon and sugar.
Pour oil into a straight-sided skillet until it’s ¼-inch deep. Set heat between medium-high and high. Allow oil to get hot (you’ll know it’s ready when a couple drops of water pop when they hit the oil).
With kitchen tongs, carefully place 4-5 tortilla wedges into the oil and cook, occasionally pressing down on the tortillas, until they brown on one side, then flip and cook on the other side, approximately 1 minute per side.
Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and immediately sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture. Repeat with remaining tortilla wedges.
Either drizzle with honey and serve immediately, or allow to cool, then store at room temperature in a resealable plastic bag for up to 1 day. Drizzle with honey just before serving.
Side note: In case you were wondering what happens to all this delicious food after I’m done with my photo shoots, I can tell you that everything goes directly to my Quality Assurance department (a.k.a. my stomach). So yeah, I ate this entire plate of sopapillas as soon as I put down my camera. And no, I didn’t save any for my toddler who was napping at the time. Don’t judge me.