So I Married a Chef

Adventures in Baking Balanced with Exercise and Healthy Meals

Christmas Cookies!!! December 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — carly71722 @ 5:22 pm

Merry Christmas :) I look forward to making Christmas cookies all year. I think about them for weeks ahead of time, planning just the right mix. I haven’t posted anything in a few weeks – honestly because I haven’t made anything post-worthy. My dinners have been boring and quickly thrown together, and I haven’t baked a thing. But this week was a different story.

My Christmas “baking” began on Tuesday night with Oreo Bark from How Sweet it Is. I was impatient and my bark ended up a little marbled, but ridiculously delicious none the less. On Thursday morning I made 3 batches of dough, and baked them off in the afternoon. This year I went with Chocolate Mint Cookies (modified from Amy’s Bread), Ginger Molasses Cookies (which I have FINALLY perfected the recipe for), and Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies (still needs some work on the type/amount of bacon, but the dough is perfect).

LOTS of dough!  I always chill my dough wrapped in plastic wrap for several hours before baking.

Chocolate Mint Cookies….

Ginger Molasses…

Peanut Butter Bacon… Check out the delicious bacon pieces in there!

All of the goods! (well, just one tin of each ;) )

Recipes anyone??? Here goes…

Chocolate Mint Cookies (adapted and modified from The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread)

1 5/8 cups all-purpose flour
3/8 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1 bag (10 oz) andes mint pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350*. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler or in the microwave (50% power for 3 min). Set aside.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl frequently. Pour in melted chocolate and continue mixing until the batter is uniform in color. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add in the extracts and mix again until just combined.
5. Add the dry ingredients in stages, mixing until just combined with each addition. Stir in the andes pieces on low speed or by hand. Chill dough for several hours.
6. Weigh dough into 2 oz balls (or divide into 23 even cookies). Press down lightly on the top, don’t flatten. Place dough on prepared cookie sheet with several inches between the cookies (I fit about 8 per sheet). Bake for 16-18 minutes. Cool on sheet for 8 minutes and transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Makes 23 cookies.


Ginger Molasses Cookies (adapted from several unremember recipes, but changed to make it my own after several tries)

4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla
extra sugar for tops of cookies

1. Preheat oven to 350*. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Mix in the molasses and vanilla until the dough is uniform. Add the dry mixture in stages mixing until just combined with each addition. Chill dough for several hours.
4. Weigh dough into 3 oz balls (or about 16 even cookies). Gently press the top down (don’t flatten), and dip the top of the cookie into sugar. Place on baking sheet with LOTS of room for spreading ( I did about 5-6 per sheet). Bake for 18-20 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Makes 16 cookies


Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies (my own created and tweaked peanut butter cookie recipe)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
1 egg
3/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp maple extract
8 pieces of bacon, cooked and crumbled

1. Preheat oven to 350*. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
2. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
3. Using a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in the peanut butter until combined. Add the egg and mix well. Add the extract and mix until combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix until the dough just comes together. Either by hand or low speed, mix in the bacon. Chill dough several hours.
4. Weigh dough into 2 oz. balls (about 15 cookies). Press down into a semi-flat oval, but not completely flattened. Bake on prepared cookie sheet for about 16 minutes. Cool on sheet for 8 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Makes 15 cookies.


Have you ever baked with bacon?

What was your favorite cookie this holiday season?


Amazing Brownies for a Blogger Cookie Swap December 3, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — carly71722 @ 4:30 pm

If I haven’t said this before, my two favorite baked goods of all time are brownies and cheesecake. These are pretty much the most dangerous foods for me, and therefore don’t make it into my house very often except on special occasions. When they do show up, they don’t last long that’s for sure. Last month I was sent an invite for a Cleveland blogger cookie swap hosted by Alicia of Poise in Parma. Naturally, with my love of baking, I wanted to go all out and come up with something festive, delicious, and sinful. I researched recipes for a while. Finally I decided that a cheesecake brownie was the way to go. But… to make it festive I went with a Peppermint Cheesecake Brownie.

Two Christmas’ ago I made an amazing Peppermint Chip Cheesecake from Mary Crownover’s I Heart Cheesecake book. It was smooth, creamy, rich, and loaded with peppermint flavor. So, for my brownies I basically cut her recipe in half with one small change. For the brownies, I doubled David Lebovitz’s recipe in order to make a 9×13. Finally, I borrowed Angela of Oh She Glows idea to sprinkle crushed candy canes on top for extra flavor and color. I actually had never made cheesecake brownies before, so I was a little nervous for how it would turn out. Let me say… this could possibly be the most dangerous holiday treat of the year. In other words… make it ASAP but be sure to share the wealth before you devour the entire pan on your own ;)

Whenever I work with cream cheese, I like to beat it alone to smooth it out. If cream cheese isn’t softened enough, you can just beat it to death until it becomes smooth.

Then, add in sugar and cream the two together.

Add the eggs, one at a time. Beat well with each addition and scrape the bowl.

Add in cornstarch and sour cream. I love the addition of sour cream to a cheesecake. It’s tartness really balances out the sugar. Mix until well combined.

Next is a combination of peppermint extract (don’t use “mint”), peppermint schnapps, and vanilla extract. Beat until well combined and then set the mixture aside while you make the brownie.

Onto the brownies… start by melting some bittersweet chocolate and butter over a double boiler.

Once melted, add to the sugar and whisk together.

Whisk in your eggs until smooth.

Then add in the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Whisk until just combined.

Gently stir in the vanilla.

Fold in the chocolate chips. If you are considering omitting the chips, DON’T!  They really provide a nice texture to the finished brownie :)

Now, spread about 2/3 of the brownie mixture into a 9×13 pan buttered, lined with parchment, and buttered again.

Then, spread the cheesecake filling evenly over the brownie base.

Then, drop spoonfuls of the remaining brownie batter over the top.

Then, use a knife to gently swirl, not mix, the brownie and cheesecake batters.

Go ahead, lick the knife. It will only make the anticipation of the finished brownies that much worse, but 100% worth the tease.

Finally, sprinkle the crushed candy cane over the top.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the cheesecake is set and the edges pull away from the pan.

Let the brownies cool to room temperature, run a knife around the edges, resist every temptation to cut in (I promise they are better chilled), and chill for several hours or overnight. Then, cut, eat, share, hoard, whatever your choose.

Here is what I brought to the cookie exchange: Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies and Caribbean Crunch Blondies

Gluten-Free Orange Walnut Biscotti

Here is the lovely spread provided by just 4 bloggers that could attend.

And the bloggers – ignore the fact that I came straight from work.

L to R: Katie of Healthy Heddleston , Alicia of Poise in Parma, Kali of Finishing Firsts, and ME! This was my first time meeting Katie and Kali. We all had such a great time chatting and I can’t wait for our next meet up!


Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies

16 oz. cream cheese, softened (use full fat, it works best)
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup sour cream (low fat works fine)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. peppermint extract
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp. peppermint schnapps

12 Tbsp. butter
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/3 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
8 candy canes, crushed

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter a 9×13 pan, line with parchment, butter parchment.
2. For the cheesecake: In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add then sugar and cream together. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the cornstarch and sour cream and mix until combined. Add in the extracts and schnapps and mix until combined. Set aside.
3. For the brownie: In a double boiler, melt together the butter and bittersweet chocolate. When melted, transfer to a large bowl and whisk in sugar. Whisk in the eggs until smooth. Add the flour, cocoa, and salt and whisk until just combined. Slowly whisk in the vanilla extract so as not to over mix. Fold in the chocolate chips.
4. To assemble: spread 2/3 of the brownie batter in the prepared pan. Spread the cheesecake evenly over the brownie batter. Spoon the remaining brownie batter over the top, it won’t cover the entire thing. Use a knife to gently swirl together the batters, don’t mix. Sprinkle the top with the crushed candy canes. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the cheesecake is set and barely pulls away from the edges of the pan, and a toothpick inserted comes out almost clean (a few crumbs attached is good). Cool completely in the pan. Chill several hours or overnight before slicing. Makes about 24 brownies (edges cut off) or 28 (edges left on).

What is your favorite holiday treat? Cookies, cakes, cheesecake, and bars included!

Do you hit the gym more over the holiday season to make up for eating a bunch of treats?






AMAZING Granola November 30, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — carly71722 @ 11:52 am

So, I didn’t really take any pictures of the granola making process. I apologize ahead of time, but here’s the story…

I realized that I was low on granola. I make it every 2-3 weeks and snack on a little each day with yogurt, oats, my hand. Anyway, this morning I topped my oats with a small handful and Joe finished off the rest of the batch. The previous granola was an awesome honey almond one that will be shared later. I was brainstorming what kind to make next while I threw together my Caribbean Crunch Blondies for a blogger cookie exchange this week. These blondies are spiked with rum and have toasted coconut, white chocolate, and macadamia nuts. TO.DIE.FOR! With the smell permeating my kitchen, I used this as an inspiration for my granola. I had no intentions of blogging this, but upon first bite I knew it was a recipe that was to be shared with the blog world. Meet – Coconut Rum Granola.

Coconut Rum Granola

Combine the following dry ingredients in a large bowl:
3 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. flax meal
3 T. brown sugar
2 Tbsp chia seeds
1/4 tsp salt

Combine the following wet ingredients in a small bowl or measuring cup:
1/4 cup agave nectar
3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 Tbsp applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp coconut extract
1 1/2 tsp dark rum

1. Preheat the oven to 350*. Line a sheet pan with silpat or parchment.
2. Mix wet and dry ingredients together (use your hands, it works well). Spread mixture onto prepared baking sheet.
3. Bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring every 3-5 minutes. The mixture will have dried up a little, but will still be moist.

Add and stir in:
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup shredded coconut

4. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes, again stirring every 3-5 minutes. Remove from the oven when the mixture has browned a little, and is still just a tiny bit wet, the edges of the pan will be darker. The granola will crisp up while it cools on the pan.

Add and stir in:
1 cup dried cherries

5. Let cool completely on the cookie sheet. Devour. Lock this up, it is quite dangerous :)

Check it out up close, you can see the little white chia seeds.

This makes about 6 cups. These are each 2 cup Ball jars.

Stay tuned for the cookie exchange. I am bringing three different goods.

What’s your favorite kind of granola? Do you make your own, or buy it?


Sausage Spinach Soup November 11, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — carly71722 @ 8:06 pm

Soup season is upon us :) I make at least one soup a week (with plenty of lunch leftovers) during the fall and winter. While many find comfort in cheesy, creamy casseroles, I find soup to be my ultimate comfort food. Lucky for me there are a TON of super healthy, veggie packed soups. One of mine and Joe’s favorites is this Sausage Spinach Soup from Cooking Light. As with most food recipes, I don’t follow the directions or measure anything, but I use it as a guide and taste test to get my final result. What I love about this soup is the spice of the turkey sausage coupled with superfoods like beans and spinach. YUM!

Here is what I started with – I used 12 oz of SPICY turkey sausage (10 oz would be 2 1/2 sausages… seriously?!?!), a full quart of chicken stock and no water, 19 oz of cannellini beans, diced tomatoes (I like them better than stewed), and dry spices.

Start with a large, heated stockpot sprayed with cooking spray. Add in the sausage (out of casing) and brown.

Once browned, add in the garlic and onion. I went with a whole onion and 3 garlic cloves.

And stir it in. Cook for a few minutes – until the onion starts to become translucent.

Then add in the beans, tomatoes, spices (salt, pepper, oregano, garlic), and chicken stock.

I also added a healthy shake of Awesome Antler Rub by Mom’s Gourmet.

Mom’s Gourmet is a local Cleveland company. They make AMAZING spice blends. I was introduced to them this summer at the farmers market. The wonderful grass-fed beef stand right next to me (SandFarm) also sold these rubs. I am addicted to this one and pretty much add it to almost everything I make :) Find it at Whole Foods if you live in Cleveland! Sorry to plug more, but SandFarm beef is great!  They do weekend pickups. Check out their site if you are interested.

Anyway… onto the soup :) Bring everything to a boil.

Then, reduce and simmer for 3 minutes. After, add in the spinach. I just grabbed two HUGE handfuls!  The more the merrier for me when it comes to greens.

Stir it around until the spinach wilts. The final soup will look like this:

I served mine up with some grated parmesan and a piece of toast. Joe made the bread yesterday and it is delish!


Are you much of a soup person? What is your ultimate comfort food?

Later and thanks for reading :)


Gingersnap Larabar Copycat November 7, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — carly71722 @ 9:36 am

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Larabars!  Who doesn’t? I love that they have a super short ingredient list full of nothing but nutrient dense foods. For probably the past year they have become my go-to pre-workout snack. I usually exercise first thing in the morning. I can’t stomach a full breakfast first, but I also can’t go empty. Larabars are great because there is good, natural sugar in the dates and healthy fat in the nuts. Half a bar is the PERFECT fuel for me.

Well, when I quit my job back in July I knew I needed to find some areas to save money. The first thing that I did was to start making my own granola instead of buying it. Super easy, and much better tasting with endless possibilities for flavors. Some of my favorites are maple cinnamon, honey vanilla, apple pie, pumpkin spice, and coconut. I definitely need to do a post on this another time! Another place that I realized I was overspending was on bars – Larabars to be exact. When the cheapest I can ever get one for is $1+, I knew I needed to find a way to replicate these ASAP. So far I have been able to make Peanut Butter and Jelly, Cinnamon Roll, Cashew Cookie, and Gingersnap. I have more in mind to try, but these are just so stinkin’ good that I keep making these flavors. Coconut is probably next on my list :) I even got Joe hooked on these, with Gingersnap being his favorite. Per his request, I whipped up a batch this morning.

The ingredient list is simple (specific amounts later): pitted dates, almonds, pecans, fresh ginger, cinnamon, cloves.

On the dates, I have used Medjool and Golden and haven’t noticed a difference. These were the cheapest at Costco, so that’s what I went with. You will want to chop the dates a little first.

As well as the ginger root. I mince it, and use about a Tablespoon.


Now, get out the food processor. I start with the nuts first. If you don’t, the processor gets all sticky and you have to wash in between. I like to save myself from washing too many dishes :)

You want them to be chopped pretty fine so that they mix in well, but don’t go wild and start making nut butter. It should look about like this:

Pour the nuts into a medium sized bowl. Then, go ahead with the dates, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.

This takes a little time. Here are a few shots in progress:

Keep going…

Keep going even more… it will come together in a ball when it is done!

Then, add this ball to the bowl of nuts.

Then, use your hands and keep folding the nuts into the dates. It takes some patience, but it will all come together I promise.

Then, weigh out pieces and roll them into a ball. I like to make mine 3/4 oz – about half a larabar.

I wrap each one in plastic wrap and store them in a large ziplock. They last a few weeks for me. By the last few they dry out a little, but still completely edible! I have dubbed them “Laraballs” :)


8 oz. dates, chopped
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp cloves
4 1/2 oz. almonds
3 1/4 oz. pecans

Follow the instructions above!

Do you like Larabars? If so, what’s your favorite flavor?



TWD – Peanuttiest Blondies November 3, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — carly71722 @ 5:58 pm

One of the things that I missed the most when doing the farmers market this summer was trying new recipes. I came to find that my customers expected to find their same favorite every week and were disappointed if I didn’t make it and tried something new. I really missed participating in Tuesday’s With Dorie also. When I joined the group earlier this year I was forced to try making some recipes that I never would have attempted otherwise. This really challenged me as a baker and helped me to find some new things that I really enjoyed.

My parents are going to Arizona this week to visit my brother and sister in-law and my niece. It was my brother’s request that I send something chocolate and peanut butter. I scrolled over to TWD after not stopping by in a while to find that this weeks recipe was Peanuttiest Blondies. It couldn’t have been a more perfect week for me to return to the group! Needless to say, this recipe fit the bill completely.

I started off by mixing the peanut butter and butter together.

Then both white and brown sugar added. Mix until creamed and well combined.

Then I added in the eggs one at a time, mixing for about a minute between each addition.

Same with the vanilla. I have really come to LOVE Nielsen-Massey Bourbon Vanilla :)

Next, add in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. I dropped the cinnamon to 1/4 tsp instead of a 1/2 tsp. Next time I would cut the cinnamon out completely. Mix until it just comes together.

Then add in the chocolate chips (Callebaut semisweet are my fav) and the chopped peanuts. Mix for just a few seconds or by hand.

Dorie says to spread the thick mixture into a pan lined with foil and buttered. I used parchment and Pam – it worked perfectly :)

Bake for 40-50 min. Mine only took 40.

Try as hard as possible not to dig in when still hot…. Joe and I ended up with slightly burnt tongues, but they were OH SO GOOD! If you can wait, chill them before cutting to get nice smooth sides.

Joe and I both agreed that they taste like thick, chewy peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. YUMMMMMM! I just hope the fam likes them as much as we do! If you want the recipe you can find it here on Bakeology

Next on the agenda – Brown Eyed Baker’s Salted Caramel Brownies. This was another request by my brother and I will be making them tomorrow!

Do you prefer to make new recipes, or make tried and true recipes? I like both… but there is something exciting to me about trying something new!


How to Throw an Ohio Style Tailgate Party October 18, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — carly71722 @ 9:43 am

This past weekend Joe and I helped my parents throw a great tailgate style party for the Ohio State vs. Wisconsin game. The Buckeyes lost :( , but the party was a blast. I showed up at my parent’s house on Friday to make pudding shots (see later), and saw some crazy trailers hanging out in the driveway.

The trailer on the left is actually refrigerated with taps for kegs, and the trailer on the right is a pig roaster. **Warning, you will see a whole pig roasting in this post**

On Saturday, everything was in full force – kegs were tapped (Labatt and Magic Hat #9), pig was roasting, dips were in the oven, bigscreen TV in the garage, etc.

The Pig:

Here is my brother’s best friend, Matt, helping himself to some beer.

Homemade fries being made. We had the running joke that we were using the most expensive fry cutter ever, because it was hooked up to the hitch on my mom’s BMW! I missed a pic of the fry cutting, but here are some good shots of them.

We made two different dips and had some hummus too. Dippers included Stacy’s Pita Chips, blue corn tortilla chips, and a veggie tray. On the left is buffalo chicken dip, and on the right is Joe’s spinach and artichoke dip. I got the buffalo chicken dip recipe here. Joe just threw together the spin/art dip. I know it had lots of cheese and cream, was delicious, and definitely a splurge :) But its a tailgate, so that’s kind of expected.

In addition to the pig, we also had marinated chicken and burgers. It was all served with challah buns from Mediterra Bakery in Pittsburgh, which I had the pleasure of touring last week for work. If you can find any of their breads, get your hands on it!  I know that both Whole Foods in Cleveland and in Pittsburgh carry their products.

The party started at about 3:30 pm and the game didn’t start until 7 pm. So, when it got close to game time it was a little chilly and we headed inside to the basement. Here is the basement bar – the bright white above is a TV for the game!

Now was time to break out the pudding shots. They basically taste like a boozy frostie. Make them – recipe here. I used all regular cool whip though instead of strawberry. I liked these better than last time when I did use the strawberry.

Ready for dessert too!  Buckeyes of course, and Irish Cake Bombs from here. On the cake bombs, definitely some modifications, since this was my second time making them. For the amount of cake, I would half the cheesecake, eighth the whiskey ganache, and I just used melted chocolate to dip because the ganache wouldn’t firm up for me.

I also made pumpkin sandwich cookies, or whoopies, (sorry for the blurry picture) from this recipe – thanks Elina, and I used the cinnamon cream cheese frosting recipe that I used for my carrot cake cookies from here.

I definitely snacked on some leftovers of those the next day :) Hey, it was my 2 year anniversary, what the heck!

All in all it was a super fun night. It was really disappointing that we didn’t get a win, but the party rocked.

I continued on with the super splurge on Sunday for my anniversary with dinner at Bar Cento in Cleveland. It is one of mine and Joe’s favorite places. They have THE best pizzas and beers. I found a new beer love while I was there – Aventinus Dopplebock. It was spicy, rich, and so yummy!  Ignore Joe’s goofy face in the pic ;)

Isn’t that glass great???

What is your favorite beer?

What’s your favorite way to tailgate?

I hope everyone had a fun weekend!


Check out my Guest Post October 15, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — carly71722 @ 9:14 am

If you don’t already read Allison’s blog Green Dog Wine:

1. you should

2. read it today for a guest post by me on Root Vegetable Stew!

New post here will be coming soon. Joe and I are helping out my dad with a Buckeye’s party, so expect some fun pics :)


Bananas Foster Bread October 6, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — carly71722 @ 7:32 am

Last week I spotted some pretty nasty looking bananas on my counter. Speckled beyond belief, and perfect for baking with! Sometimes I wonder if Joe purposely leaves bananas laying around like that in hopes that I’ll bake HIM a special treat that he doesn’t have to share due to my serious hatred for bananas. I used to REALLY hate even baking with them because I can’t handle the smell even, but now I actually like baking with them for 2 reasons. Reason #1 – it makes Joe very happy. Reason #2 – when I feel it in my booty that I have eaten way too much dessert, its a great way to feed my baking needs and not worry about eating it all. Anyway… it was almost fate that on the same day I spotted the bananas the latest edition of Cooking Light arrived with a lovely Peanut Butter Banana Bread on the cover. This was a slight disappointment, since last time I had made Joe banana bread it was of the peanut butter variety. So, I flipped to the recipe and found 3 MORE recipes – one being Bananas Foster Bread. Bananas, rum, brown sugar, sounded like it would be good for a banana lover :) I usually mess around with recipes and change them, but since I couldn’t sample to check my work I stuck with this exact recipe. I opted to go with rum instead of cognac because it was what I already had in my house.

As always, I got out all of my ingredients and measured them out.

Combined my dry ingredients (1 1/2 cups flour, 1/4 cup flax meal, 3/4 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp allspice)

The recipe called for melted butter, but then I was supposed to put it in a non-stick skillet…. So, I just melted the butter in the skillet and then added in 1/2 cup brown sugar, 3 Tbsp dark rum, and 1 1/2 cups (3 bananas) mashed.

Melting the butter…


Adding in the rest…

Stir until the mixture starts to bubble, then remove it from the heat and let cool. I just poured it right into my mixing bowl to cool.

Once cool, add in 1/3 cup plain yogurt (I used greek because its what I had), 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 2 eggs. Then mix until combined


Add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Then, pour the batter into a loaf pan (9 inch) sprayed with cooking spray and bake at 350* for about an hour – until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let it cool for about 10 minutes, and then flip the loaf onto a cooling rack. I flip it out, then flip it back right side up to cool.

I debated not making the glaze, but Joe asked that I did. Good thing, because he later commented that it MADE the bread :)

Combine 1 Tbsp melted butter, 1 Tbsp dark rum (or cognac), and 1/3 cup powdered sugar.

Then, drizzle over the loaf.

Joe really liked this bread. In addition the the previous comment, he added that he liked it best heated (in the microwave) with a little butter on top. Doesn’t butter just make everything better!?!?

I would post the recipe in standard form, instead of scattered, but I put in the link to Cooking Light at the top to follow :)

Are there any ingredients that you find difficult to bake/cook with simply because you don’t like them??


Cuban Braised Beef September 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — carly71722 @ 9:46 am

One of mine and Joe’s favorite restaurants in Cleveland is Paladar. They have a unique menu, amazing chips, and just an overall fun atmosphere. One of our favorite dishes is Ropa Vieja. It’s a shredded, slow cooked beef dish. I’m not a huge beef eater, but this is delicious! So, probably 6 months ago I was reading Real Simple magazine and saw this recipe for Cuban Braised Beef – instantly I thought to myself “Ropa at home!”. I especially loved that its a crock pot recipe because I’m always looking for good ones to make on nights when I work late. Last night I worked until 10pm, so it was nice to come home and have dinner ready. Yes, I really do eat that late sometimes – I just can’t help it when I close.

Joe and I really like a lot of spices in our food, flavorful = extra yum :) I always add more variety and quantity than recipes call for (except Indian food because that’s just spice central). So, here is the group of what I started with: cumin, oregano, cayenne, kosher salt, pepper, mapuche (which is discontinued…), and ground red chipotle.

Here is the rest: green pepper, red pepper, onion, garlic (added by me), diced tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, flank steak

I always start with the veggies first, so that I don’t dirty my cutting board with raw meat. Yes, I should have separate cutting boards, but I don’t ;) First add the diced tomatoes to the crock pot.

Then chop up the garlic (~2-3 large cloves) and add it to the pot

Then cut the onion into 8 wedges. Whenever I half a recipe (like I did on this one), I still keep pretty much all of the veggies and half the meat or pasta. This time I opted for one small onion. Add this to the pot.

Then cut the peppers into thick strips. I used one small red pepper and half of a large green pepper. Add them to the mix.

Even though the avocado and cilantro are garnish for the finished dish, I diced them now, before I put meat on the cutting board. I went with 1/2 an avocado and a healthy bunch of cilantro. I save them in little containers in the fridge so when I’m ready to serve the work is already done.

Then add the spices to the pot. I probably used the following (I didn’t measure):
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp oregano
1 tsp Mapuche
1/2 tsp ground red chipotle
Sprinkle of cayenne
1/4 tsp kosher salt
a healthy grind of black pepper (I LOVE pepper, and there usually can never be too much)

Then stir it all up.

Next take care of the beef. I used 3/4 pound of flank steak – this piece is larger, so I weighed out 12ish ounces and froze the rest for later. Cut the flank steak into three large pieces.

Then, nestle the pieces into the crock pot. Cover the crock pot, set it to low.

Let this go for ~8 hours. And it will look like this. I’m not sure on the exact timing because Joe got home before me and took these lovely pics.

Then, take two forks and shred the meat so it looks like this.

I like to serve this over rice. My favorite quick brown rice… I used about 1/3 of a cup dry for both of us because that is all I had left!

Serve the beef over rice, garnished with avocado and cilantro.

The original recipe is for 4 people. I halved the recipe and I got about 3 servings out of it because I left all of the veggies in.So yummy :) Make this soon, you won’t regret it!

What is your favorite crock pot meal??? I’m looking for some new ones to use this winter :)



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