Monday, February 4, 2013

Mexican Hot Chocolate Donuts {Giveaway!}


To be perfectly honest, I think Valentine’s Day is a bit of a hokey holiday, at least for adults.  It’s quite silly really, I mean if you love someone, shouldn’t you show them the other 364 days of the year?

That being said… I love having an excuse to bake.  And Valentine’s Day lends itself to so many delicious treats.  Cupcakes, cookies, truffles, candy, marshmallows…. The list goes on & on.  I picked up this heart shaped donut pan last year on holiday clearance, and I’m glad to have a reason to use it.  I’m so excited to share with you a recipe from a very dear friend of mine.  Jessica of The Novice Chef & I first “met” online and forged quite friendship via our blogs & Twitter.  We later roomed together at BlogHerFood ’11 in Atlanta, along with Lindsay of Love & Olive Oil.  I am bursting with pride over her first cookbook, Mini-Donuts.  Every single recipe was developed & photographed by her.  I was so excited when my copy came in the mail, as was Elliott.

I had a hard time deciding what recipe to make first.  Finally I decided on her Hot Chocolate Donuts, using the Mexican Hot Chocolate variation.  I was in the mood to add a little kick to my treat.  These were so simple to whip up!  Honestly, I was worried it might be hard for me to make, as I try to squeeze my baking in during Elliott’s naps.  But these came together pretty quick & easy!  I always grew up with yeasted donuts, and only recently have been getting more into cake donuts.  I feared these might end up a bit dry, but I can assure you they were not.  They were SO moist, with a delicious flavor!  The chili powder is very subtle.  In fact, next time I think I’ll kick it up a notch and add a bit more.


I’m insanely proud of Jessica and her cookbook!  It’s filled with fun, delicious treats!  I can’t wait until Elliott is old enough to enjoy time in the kitchen with me.  I have a feeling this might end up one of his favorite cookbooks for us to bake from.  You are in luck because I’m giving away TWO copies of her book!  You have multiple chances to win.  You get an additional entry each if you “Like” The Novice Chef or ErinsFoodFiles on Facebook.  And an extra entry if you tweet about it.   For this giveaway I’m using a new tool called Rafflecopter, as you see below.  Use it to enter & win!  (If you’re reading from an RSS feed, click “Read More” for the recipe and a chance to enter!)

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Banana Nutella Microwave Brownie

This my friends, is either a stroke of genius, a stroke of luck, or a pretty nice combination of the two.  In less than 5 minutes, assuming you have these ingredients on hand, you TOO could be enjoying a warm brownie-like concoction.  And I have Elliott to thank for it.  (Sort of.)

You see, we have ventured into the world of solid foods.  One evening Elliott got to enjoy 1/2 of a ripe mashed banana.  After I put him to bed I had a chocolate craving.  I didn’t want a cookie, I didn’t want ice cream, I didn’t even want my Goo-Goo Cluster Supreme I had stashed away.  This chocolate craving was specific to a fudgy brownie taste.  My brain quickly flashed to the Nutella in my cabinet, then to the half banana remaining, and with that I had the idea to do one of those microwave mug brownie/cakes.  I’ve seen recipes that call for vegetable oil, applesauce, egg, etc.  I figured the banana would moisten it up, and add tons of flavor.

Ding dang… This was good!  This was SO good I got on Facebook and shared on my blog’s Facebook page.  And then again on Twitter.  Basically the social media equivalent of shouting it from the rooftops.  The following weekend I made a point to feed Elliott another 1/2 ripe mashed banana, so that I could have the other half to make another mug brownie to photograph and share with you!

The first time I made it, I didn’t fully cook it, and I enjoyed it as a brownie batter-like dessert.  The second time I made it I cooked it longer, and sure enough ended up with what was pretty darn close to a gooey brownie.  The nutella flavor is there as is the banana aroma & flavor.  This most CERTAINLY hit the spot.  I have a feeling this version will stay in my repertoire long after Elliott moves on to whole bananas.  😉

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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year friends & readers!

This year my resolution includes trying to live a more organized life.  Mainly I mean in my day to day life, my house, my work, etc.  I’m not an organized person by nature.  I have papers & bills in various places, which results in late payments.  My cabinets are a mess, and I never can find what I need, though I know I have it. My dream in life is to be chosen for a magazine home makeover, and have a professional decorator/organizer come and whip my house (even just one room!) into shape.  So, if you know anyone in publishing…

But, I could definitely stand to do some organizing in the virtual world.  As anyone with a busy life will know (and let’s face it, who doesn’t have a busy life?), meal planning is essential.  Ever since Elliott came along and I went back to work, we have only been able to survive our weekly routine if I plan meals in advance.  Usually I email recipes to myself to open on my iPhone or iPad, as well as email grocery lists to myself.  Sometimes I can’t remember which email address I sent it from, or which I sent it to.  This is where Ziplist comes in.  I recently became a member of Ziplist and I love it!  It keeps everything in one place.  I can open the website from my computer as I’m planning, and I can open the app on my iPhone when I’m grocery shopping.  It’s so handy!

Now, you can save recipes you read on my blog to your Ziplist with one easy click.  I’m sure you’ve noticed this feature on many other blogs.  I always seem to be about 2 steps behind these days!  Within the recipe, you’ll see the “print” button, and now there’s a “save” button as well.  Because of the way this feature works, we had to do a little changing of the way my blog works.  You’ll have to click “Read more” for the recipe.  It’s a minor change I hope you don’t mind!

Now for a little photo fun, here’s Elliott enjoying his traditional black eyed peas & collard greens on New Years.  I was shocked that he really actually seemed to love them!  394797_10100652842325952_1757673023_n

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Andes Mint Chocolate Covered Cookies

Recently at work there was a Christmas Cookie Bake-off.  I really wanted to compete since I wasn’t able to compete in the Halloween Bake-off.  (It was on a Wednesday, and my weekdays leave NO TIME for baking!)  I wanted to make something festive & delicious.  My first thought went to the Double Ginger Crackles in my blog because I LOVE them (duh, ginger).  But, ginger can be a bit polarizing.  What if one of the judges hated ginger?  My next flavor thought was peppermint, so I turned to a cookie I bookmarked last year, these Peppermint Bark Cookies from Annie’s Eats.  So that’s what I made and entered.  Or I guess you could say Elliott & I made, because the boy did not want to be put down!  Good thing I have my trusty Ergo carrier!  Sadly I didn’t get a photo, because I started the cookies mid-Sunday (and they require 2 hours of chilling in the fridge), I finished them Sunday night, and packaged them up for the contest as soon as they completely cooled.  My mornings don’t have a moment of free time between getting myself & Elliott ready, as well as walking the dog, so I wasn’t able to snap a photo.  I was pretty busy at work, so I didn’t snap a photo there either.  Not even an iPhone photo!  You can see beautiful photos of the completed cookies on Annie’s post.  This is the closest you’ll get to a photo of them from me:


{Elliott & I in cookie-making action.  I am wearing him in my Ergo carrier in the “hip carry” position.}

Now, you’re probably wondering why I just went on & on about Peppermint Bark cookies, when the title of this post is clearly ANDES MINT.  Well you see, while I was making the dough for the cookie base, I got the idea to do two versions.  One peppermint bark, the other as Andes mint.  A local cupcake shop I love and adore, Cupcake Collection, has been tweeting about their special Andes Mint cupcake, and I’d been craving Andes Mint for weeks because of them!  I knew if it worked so well in their cupcake, it would work well for these cookies too.  I really wished I’d had the opportunity to make both versions for the bake-off.  I just simply ran out of time & energy.


As it would be, the Peppermint Bark Cookies & I did not win the bake-off.  Bummer…  The back of my mind kept wondering if I had of made & entered the Andes mint version, would I have won?  Of course, we’ll never know.  But I did want to satisfy my curiosity as to how the Andes Mint cookie would taste!  So, here they are.  A soft, brownie-like cookie, with melted Ghiradelli chocolate, and chopped Andes Mints.  I debated whether or not to chop the Andes Mint myself, or use the baking bits.  I bought both, but as you can see used the baking bits.  Now I wished I’d chopped them myself.  I think these baking bits are great when baked into a cookie, but as you can see they look a bit dry on top.  The freshly opened & chopped Andes Mint would have been more appealing to the eye.  But nonetheless, these cookies were SUPERB!  I even think they edged out the Peppermint version.  But that may be because I’m more of a mint fan over peppermint.

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Gingerbread Syrup

I wasn’t kidding around when I said I have entered the era of gingerbread.  I’ve really enjoyed gingerbread lattes I’ve had from various local coffee shops.  I already make my own ginger syrup to add in coffee & cocktails, so when it came time for another batch, I decided to make a seasonal version.  This has just the perfect amount of spice, along with the kick of fresh ginger.  The molasses is what really brings it on home to complete the gingerbread flavor.

I’ve been enjoying this in iced coffee, warm coffee, and whiskey cocktail drinks (with a splash of apple cider).  If I had an espresso machine I would make gingerbread cappuccinos and sip them with delirious joy.  I seriously think I might slather this on pancakes next.  This syrup would also make a great homemade food gift.  Or, if you are selfish like I am, make a double batch and hoard it all for yourself.  What you see photographed is a DOUBLE BATCH, and I expect it to last me at least 2 weeks.  😉

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