Monday, March 30, 2015

Chocolate Shoofly Pie with Pecan Whole Wheat Crust-Stephie's Virtual Bridal Shower

Chocolate Shoofly Pie with Pecan Whole Wheat Crust
Yay! Yay! YAYYY!!!

Today is super duper exciting: We're holding a SURPRISE virtual bridal shower for Stephie of Stephie Cooks! (Are you surprised, Stephie!!?) Myself, Stef, and Steph, teamed up with a bunch more of Stephie's bloggy buds to celebrate the amazingness that is Stephie and the excitement we all have for her and her soon-to-be hubby, Alex!

I LOVE LOVE Stephie-she's a fantastic baker, has the coolest mom, and she's just the sweetest gal. She's also been featured on this blog a couple times already. So I am thrilled to celebrate her happiness today with a bunch of her other friends!
Stephie's wedding is coming up SOON and--because I'm nosy and also because I was doing some espionage-style research for this shower--I asked Stephie to share some deets about the upcoming nuptials! And what I learned is so fitting and so perfect for them. They're having a beautiful rustic-elegance style wedding with turquoise and pinks: gorgeous. And for food? BBQ! (Which is perfect, esp. because Alex is a major carnivore) and cupcakes and pie instead of the standard cake--again...adorable and perfect! (And I wish I could be there to see-and taste-it all! But I'll settle for just drooling over wedding photos :D) Anyway, I really wanted to use their wedding as inspiration for what I was going to make!

And-in addition to the fact that they are having pie-when I think of that sort of country feeling...I think of pie. And shoofly pies and barns go together like....well....Stephie and Alex :)
Chocolate Shoofly Pie with Pecan Whole Wheat Crust
But! Since they're doing that rustic-chic spin, I decided to get a little fancy with my shoofly pie as well. So I made it a chocolate shoofly pie. And I put pecans on top (which, although optional, you should 100% do because they toast when the pie bakes and they're maybe the best part of the pie). And I made a whole wheat pecan pie crust (which is the perfect accompaniment). But first of all...what is a shoofly pie?
Chocolate Shoofly Pie with Pecan Whole Wheat Crust
Shoofly pies are traditional among the Pennsylvania Dutch and they're pretty much a molasses based pie. (The name shoofly comes because the scent of molasses attracts flies and they had to "shoo" them away). Now-in case you didn't know-molasses is what makes brown sugar different from granulated sugar. So-it's pretty much awesome. I made a wet bottomed version, which means that there is a crumb topping but the bottom is more sticky and...well..."wet". And, although it's not healthy, it's not terribly awful for you. There's very little butter and not a great deal of sugar either. It's pretty much just molasses and water and such. Oh...and in this case....chocolate. Which I think really helped make it a bit more sweet and rich. I loved how rustic it turned out! And the textures-you have that nutty earthy whole wheat pie crust, the gooey chocolatey/molasses-y filling, a slightly crisp crumb topping and then the toasted pecans and sea salt take it from being just an "Ok" dessert to a "Mmmmm give me another piece!" sort of pie. I loved it. I think Stephie & Alex would (even though chocolate isn't usually Stephie's biggest thing), and I know you will too!
Chocolate Shoofly Pie with Pecan Whole Wheat Crust
Now check out all the other delicious things Stephie's blogger friends made for her virtual shower!

The Cooking Actress – Chocolate Shoofly Pie with Pecan Whole Wheat Crust
Girl Versus Dough – Mini Meyer Lemon Coconut Scones
Sarcastic Cooking – Mini Buffalo Blue Cheese Chicken Pot Pies
The Roasted Root – Sweet Potato Rounds with Guacamole and Bacon
A Cedar Spoon – Strawberry Mint Mascarpone Crostini with Lemon Honey Drizzle
Very Culinary – White Chocolate Raspberry Parfaits
Rachel Cooks – Broccoli and Bacon Beer Cheese Dip
Bluebonnet Baker – Maple Bourbon Balls
Nutmeg Nanny – Broccoli Bacon Salad
Laura’s Mess – Spiced Apple and Buttermilk Cake
Seaweed and Sassafras – Herband Cheese Scones
Stetted – Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie
All Day I Dream About Food – Chocolate Fudge Crumb Bars
Dessert for Two – Mini Lemon Cakes
Foodie with Family – Smoked Salmon Cucumber Pizza

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Something Saturdays (3/28/15)

I felt so crazy lethargic all week. No real explanation for it-I just did. It didn't help that the weather could not figure out whether it was spring or still winter. It snowed yesterday-ugh.

On Sunday we got together with Michael's best man's family for dinner and that was really nice and we had fun. Monday night we had dinner with Michael's dad, stepmom, brother, and sister-in-law and then later we went to his brother's house to go over DJ stuff for the wedding (he's our DJ). So that was exciting. Tuesday I mailed out wedding invites and ran a couple other errands. Wednesday is my brother's day off so we hung out for a little bit. And yesterday Michael and I both were off so we went to see the new Cinderella movie (cute-very pretty visually!) and then got some dinner (which I hate doing when I can't eat meat. I NEED MEAT!)

And today we're both working. So...yepp!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

{Healthy} Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oat Bars- #ChocPBDay

{Healthy} Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oat Bars- #ChocPBDay
Welcome to the 2nd annual Chocolate Peanut Butter Day!!! 

A group of bloggers (hosted by the amazing and talented Carla of Chocolate Moosey and Miriam of Overtime Cook) have declared March 25th the official day to celebrate the ultimate of flavor pairings: chocolate and peanut butter! We had so much fun last year that of course I was excited to celebrate again this year!
{Healthy} Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oat Bars
Chocolate and peanut butter are my absolute favorite. My favorite candies growing up all had that beautiful pairing and SO MANY of the desserts I've made are choc/pb-fied (last year I even did a round up of 35 chocolate and peanut butter recipes on the blog...and goodness knows I've made many many more over the course of the year!) I've even been known to melt together some chocolate and peanut butter for a quick and richly delicious treat when I have no other sweets around. That is the depth of my love. (In a perfect world I'd have chocolate cake with peanut butter filling for my wedding cake but...alas...I'm playing it safe in case there are allergies.)
{Healthy} Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oat Bars
As you can tell if you've visited this little blog-ette of mine in 2015--I'm on a bit of a "healthier" kick. Partly just because I want to get back to a better place physically and partly because my wedding is quickly approaching! So these bars that I decided to make are on the healthier side. But you know what's funny? Almost every healthy dessert I make involves chocolate and peanut butter. Why? Peanut butter is delicious BUT also full of protein and good stuff and oftentimes makes an excellent substitute for butter. And chocolate is an antioxidant and...well...I need it. So I throw it in nearly everything to keep me sane. The point is-it was definitely not difficult to find something to make for Chocolate Peanut Butter Day! 
{Healthy} Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oat Bars
Here is the beauty of healthy treats: they can be dessert, a snack, or breakfast! So these chewy, hearty, delicious bars (which have just the right amount of sweetness) may be consumed thrice a day. In fact...I think I'd recommend it. Good for the soul and all that.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Easy Whole Wheat Hoagie Rolls

Easy Whole Wheat Hoagie Rolls
I'm still loving this recipe for French Dip sandwiches. What I'm not loving? My inability to find whole wheat hoagie rolls. And...really....I love being able to make things myself anyway. So when I found a recipe for easy hoagie rolls I knew I would be adapting a whole wheat version for my next sammie!
Easy Whole Wheat Hoagie Rolls
And I am now completely in love. Like...I want to use this recipe for garlic bread, any and all future sandwiches I make, and I don't even know what else! Just...everything. Because that's what this recipe is--everything.

It's really a super simple bread recipe and it doesn't even take that long to make (with rise times it only really takes like 2.5-3 hours, which in the scheme of bread baking isn't bad. And 99.9% of that time is inactive, just letting it rise or bake, etc.)
Easy Whole Wheat Hoagie Rolls
Even Michael liked them! I'm not sure that he even noticed that they were whole wheat (something he tends to whine about)--he has very specific desires for hoagie rolls. He likes them to be not too big and somewhat soft (but still sturdy enough) and that is what these are! They're wonderfully golden on the outside and so soft and fluffy on the inside. They're just sturdy enough for such messy and gooey sandwiches as the 'aforementioned french dip. And I'm just a huge fan. Love love love these hoagies.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Something Saturdays (3/21/15)

Hey! It's Lent! If you celebrate Lent then you might need some inspiration for meatless recipes on Fridays. If that's the case, check out this post from last year:

I'm totally loving this Epic Rap Battle---Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy!) as Cinderella battling Belle...so much goodness in one video!



Did you have a fun St. Patrick's Day? I worked all day (it's a super busy day for alcohol promos...obviously.) In other news this week I actually got to get my new car and I love it! And...I've actually had some time to just get stuff done around the house. Which was really nice. Plus I got a couple small wedding things done and did a little shopping for bridal shower/rehearsal dinner dresses. And now this weekend I'm working and also doing some social stuffs! Yay!

I got back my photos from the portrait session I did with Jay Kossman Photography about a month ago! I'm sharing one of my favorite shots right here, but to view more pictures check out this album.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Chocolate Peanut Butter Coconut Nutty Granola

Chocolate Peanut Butter Coconut Nutty Granola
This is my favorite thing I've made lately.

Like...every time I eat it I want to just go "Mmmmm....SO GOOD!" and then I curse myself for not making homemade granola more often. Because then I could have eaten this deliciousness sooner.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Coconut Nutty Granola
This granola tastes better than candy. It's sweet and crunchy and chocolatey and nutty and...it almost tastes as bit caramelized. It's the best granola I've ever eaten and by far the best I've ever made. Before making this recipe I hadn't really thought through how adaptable granola is. Like...you can pretty much throw whatever stuff you want in there. And that is what I did. And it turns out all the odds and ends I needed to use up were the perfect mix. Kismet!
Chocolate Peanut Butter Coconut Nutty Granola
Oats are the base of granola. Then some coconut oil and honey and dark chocolate peanut butter bind and sweeten the entire thing. And then...add whatever you choose. In this case I chose to add whole almonds and chopped hazelnuts and pecans and-my unexpected favorite-toasted coconut flakes. Oh my GAWD, those toasted coconut flakes after they were baked in the entire mixture turned out to be ridiculously irresistible. So friggin delicious. The entire thing was-just the most satisfying snack or breakfast or...heck...dessert!

You have GOT to try it!


Monday, March 16, 2015

Crispy Potatoes

Crispy Potatoes
Michael's mom makes ridiculous amounts of food. Like...always. Anytime we're eating there she makes, like, 8 things at once. It is insanity. Delicious insanity but...still. One of the more common meals we end up eating over there is breakfast/brunch (or 2nd breakfast or elevensies...they enjoy LoTR). And my fave thing that makes an appearance during these "breakfasts" are her potatoes. They're super crispy and sort of spicy (to me anyway, which means to normal people they're probably not very spicy at all) and I've seen her make them and I'd witnessed how simple and quick they are to make!

So I was like...duh...let's do this.
Crispy Potatoes
All you need to do is stand in the kitchen and watch your adorable, 4'10" future-mother-in-law quickly chop up some potatoes and...oh...wait...you don't have your very own Mama Maria?

My bad. We'll discuss the method where you make these yourself and you don't just keep your fiance's mom company in the kitchen while she whips them up with enviable speed (whilst also having like 10 other things cooking at the same time...seriously...I do not know how she does it. She sets an impossible standard. But I digress.)
Crispy Potatoes
Something pretty awesome about this method of cooking potatoes (aside from how easy it is) is that it's completely up to you how you want them to taste. Season according to your personal preferences! Michael's mom uses paprika and salt and pepper--maybe you want rosemary! Or truffle salt! Or maybe chili powder--it's entirely up to you. And then you can serve them aside eggs or crepes or with steak. And they're crisp on the outside and soft on the inside and so rustic looking and they taste like maybe a cowboy made them for you...like...in a good way.

Because, in my case, it's usually a sweet little Italian woman making them for me.

Or me. Or YOU?! :D*

*See you at brunch!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Something Saturdays (3/14/15)

The verdict is in: all millenials love Tom Hanks. obviously.

Have you heard of starbomb? They make these youtube videos that are songs about like...videogame characters...and....they're hilarious. This week has been full of Michael and I yelling "TIS I!" and "HERE'S A BASKET OF PUPPIES!" and "You're my own brotherrrr!" AND "It's dangerous to go alone taaaake thiiiis" (not to mention "What up b---?! I got a one up b---!")

Pre-Cana day last week was...a rollercoaster. The grand majority of it was stuff that Michael and I already knew/have discussed (his mom literally teaches the class on relationships at a Catholic High School and ya know...he's going to school for counseling. Plus we've been together and have lived together for so long) but we had some fun and enjoyed spending time together and getting to talk all day. And there was a really sweet surprise at the end that I won't describe in case for some reason anyone who will get married and go to this Pre-Cana day is reading this and I don't want to spoil it (but I will say that we also got letters from loved ones, which was nice).

I had another photo shoot this week (with Craig Craver Photography)-this one was for some church stock photos which was sort of neat.

I also got to spend some time with my brother (one of the inmates at the jail where he works wrote him an epic rap song) and Michael's brother and sister and mom.

And-I found a new car! I decided to lease because I am TIRED of paying to fix cars. And, after driving around all day Thursday to find the best deal at different car dealerships, I settled on the Hyundai Elantra SE! I officially did all the paperwork, etc. yesterday and on Monday I get the car itself (the color I wanted needed to be ordered and I'm too busy to pick it up today-and they're closed on Sundays). Yippee!
source
Last night we hung out with some of Michael's co-workers aaaand...I was the weird girl who baked brownies while everyone was drinking and playing beer pong. But they seemed to appreciate the brownies :D

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

How to Freeze Celery (for Soups/Stews)

I don't like celery. 

I know...this isn't how you expected this post to begin. Stay with me, though. So-I don't like celery. And Michael can only eat so much before he's over it. BUT sometimes I like celery in things--such as soup. But then I always have leftover celery. And it's like...gahhh...what do I do with all of this?

Freeze it. Use it for future soups. DUH!
I came up with this idea while making this soup for Michael and I crossed my fingers that it would work...and it did! It's actually pretty simple-and is going to save you time in future recipes! You just chop up some celery (I could write poetry to my new chopper) and spoon into an ice cube tray. Freeze it. Pop little cubes of frozen celery out. Put them in a bag. Keep frozen until ready to use! And then--just pop them into whatever you're using. Generally the celery is just saute'd or cooked in a soup so really it will just add a smidgen bit of extra time to that step. Other than that it's pretty much normal. This is such a game changer.

How to Freeze Celery (for Soups/Stews)

Author: Kayle, "The Cooking Actress"

3-4 celery make approx. 6 cubes of frozen, chopped, celery.
Ingredients:
  • celery
Preparation:
  • Thoroughly wash celery and dry. Chop the celery up.
  • Spoon chopped celery into a clean ice cube tray. Freeze (about 1-2 hours).
  • Pop the frozen celery cubes out of the tray and place in an airtight container/freezer bag. Label how many celery are within the container (3-4 celery make approx. 6 cubes for me). 
  • Store in the freezer for up to 6 months. Use as usual in soups or stews--just add a little bit of extra cook time. 
Look how cute the little chopped celery is. Knowing that I just saved myself future effort makes me seriously giddy :D

Monday, March 9, 2015

Healthier Dark Chocolate Brownies-Peanut Butter & Co. #MysteryIngredient Challenge

Healthier Dark Chocolate Brownies
Did you know that March in National Peanut Month? Well-IT IS! To celebrate, Peanut Butter & Co. wanted to showcase the versatility of peanut butter by providing a mystery ingredient {to those of us who accepted the challenge} to be paired with peanut butter in a recipe. ((And, also to celebrate, we're having a PB & Co giveaway! Scroll past the recipe to find out how to enter))

My mystery ingredient? Espresso powder.
Healthier Dark Chocolate Brownies
Truthfully, I'm not a fan of coffee. I don't like the flavor (although I ADORE the scent). However I have heard multiple times how adding coffee/espresso to certain chocolate desserts just intensifies the chocolate flavor. And...um...I LOVE chocolate. The more deep, dark, and intense the chocolate flavor the better! So I knew that I would be pairing the espresso with my favorite PB & Co peanut butter: Dark Chocolate Dreams.
Healthier Dark Chocolate Brownies
In case you haven't read any of my previous posts about Peanut Butter & Co, here's why I love them (aside from the sole fact that they make a dark chocolate peanut butter...which is pretty epic on its own): their peanut butters are natural (hooray-a short and pronounceable ingredient list) and no-stir and they contain no cholesterol, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, or high fructose corn syrup (and they're also certified gluten-free, vegan, and kosher!) If I'm not making homemade nut butters, PB & Co is pretty much the only peanut butter brand I use.
Healthier Dark Chocolate Brownies
Back to these brownies. I knew I wanted to use the espresso to really amp up the chocolate flavor of whatever I would make, and that Dark Chocolate Dreams would help me do that. I'm also still trying to make healthier treats since I'm pre-wedding. So I decided to adapt a recipe that I found for whole wheat brownies (which already called for instant espresso) and replace ALL the butter in said recipe with the Dark Chocolate Dreams. Oh yeah. I also significantly decreased the amount of flour (the peanut butter is much thicker than regular butter, so this worked out nicely) and slightly decreased the sugar and...well...I was pretty nervous about how they would turn out.

But omigosh these brownies came out PERFECTLY! Even Michael (Mr."I don't like when you healthify my desserts I just want brownies that taste like my mom's") adored them-especially the texture! They're dense but feel like just a classic, comforting brownie. And, as desired, the chocolate really shines. So much so that you can actually barely taste the peanut butter (it's just a little hint of that tasty peanutty specialness). The espresso really does add some smoky nuance and just lets you taste the chocolate to its fullest potential. Dark chocolate chips are studded throughout and help add to the experience even more.

To sum up: this challenge was a success! The brownies are soft, gooey, chewy, and intensely chocolatey.

And they happen to also be low-fat, whole grain, and dairy-free ((I mean...aside from the choc chips))

*happy dance*

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Something Saturdays (3/7/15)

Ok so first off: our meeting about ceremony music for the wedding went GREAT! We are so excited about the music and Michael has had me play each song from our prelude before bed to help him be soothed to sleepiness lol. And I had SO MUCH FUN last Saturday when I got to have lunch with Erin (The Spiffy Cookie) and her awesome fella, Bob. We talked for like...4 hours. It was so much fun. (And we ate delicious food so...yeah) I'm crazy excited that Erin lives only a couple hours away now so this can be a regular thing!!

This is the first week with my brother living close by. We've been working out together and hanging and it's great! He and I also went to my mom's for dinner on Wednesday and while I was down there my mom and I ran out and bought my aisle runner. Woot.

And then...the week took a bad turn. On the way to our friends' house (Michael's best man, to be specific) so I could babysit their baby daughter (who is sick)--my car decided to not want to um...work. I was luckily able to get myself off the highway to the side of a side street and luckily the place we take our cars is right by the house I was on my way to. So I got towed and still babysat and waited to find out what the deal with my car was. And I found out yesterday that it is pretty much done. The engine needs replacing and that car is not worth the cost of replacing it. So for now I'm just gonna get by with 1 car and then...we'll see. I'm considering leasing. To lighten things up we went to dinner with Michael's cousin and aunt and uncle and his dad and stepmom last night and it was really fun. And the food was delish!

And TODAY we are spending all day doing Pre-Cana day! Pre-cana is essentially pre-marriage counseling Catholic couples have to go through, and out parish does this thing where they condense the bulk of the pre-cana into a day long retreat sort of thing....to be honest....I'm not entirely sure what we're gonna be doing. But hey! I'll let ya know next week lol.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt Bars {KIND Bars Copy Cat}-Guest Post at American Heritage Cooking

Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt Bars {KIND Bars Copy Cat}
Hey friends! Do you remember Lindsey, from American Heritage Cooking?

She guest posted over here for me while I was in the midst of that whole annoying moving situation. And now SHE'S living in NYC and attending culinary school and it's all crazy exciting and I'm so happy for her but she's super busy so I'm returning the favor and posting over there today :)
Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt Bars {KIND Bars Copy Cat}
Now-on to the wonderful treats that I'm sharing. They're awesome, all. They're a copy cat recipe for KIND bars (a kind of granola sort of bar)--and these are cheaper, healthier, and tastier! And they're super simple to make, I promise! They're subtly sweet and crunchy with just a touch of sea salt on top to balance the whole thing. If you love nuts and dark chocolate (and like...who doesn't?) these are the perfect healthy snack for you!
Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt Bars {KIND Bars Copy Cat}
So if you want the recipe for the delicious Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt Bars, click on over to read the post on American Heritage Cooking! xoxo

Monday, March 2, 2015

Multigrain Waffles/Pancakes

Multigrain Waffles/Pancakes
This recipe can also be known as "the one that finally made me throw my waffle iron out."

Hold on! Wait! Don't go! It's not the recipe's fault! My waffle iron was sort of broken for a bit and this is just when I realized "Oh hey....the top of the waffle iron isn't cooking at all." which was extremely frustrating because it took me quite a few waffles that ended up all messed up and in the garbage before I realized the problem wasn't on my end-that it was my waffle maker. I did manage to salvage 1 waffle so yay! We got some pictures! And with the remaining batter I just made some pancakes!

So yes...my waffle maker is now dead. BUT the good news is there's only a couple more months until my bridal showers where I will hopefully receive the one I registered for :D.
Multigrain Waffles/Pancakes
Anyway. On to this recipe. It is super hearty and full of good for you stuffs. I also folded in some whipped egg whites to make them crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside (which is much more noticeable when they are in waffle form).
Multigrain Waffles/Pancakes
The pancakes and waffles are chewy and tasty and pretty and this recipe makes a bunch so you can freeze whatever you don't eat and just pop into the toaster (or microwave or oven) when you're ready for a simple, healthy, breakfast!
Multigrain Waffles/Pancakes
Plus--you can totally play around with how you top them or what you add into them. As you probably know by now, I like to add chocolate chips and spread nut butter on top. Michael likes chopped apples and cinnamon in his pancakes, and he pretty much is always a fan of fruit and whipped cream on top of waffles--he's also a fan of the classic butter & syrup combo. How would you eat your pancakes or waffles?
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