Running Away (Gluten Free, Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies)

Heart pounding, I run. My lungs, once full of air are now deflated and scrambling, but still continue. My shins absorb the impact of the worn concrete, walked by countless people, yet run by me. Aching arms continue to sway mechanically back and forth, they scream for a break, but none comes. Head held high and with determination holding me from looking back, I run.

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Saving the orangutans one run at a time.

I like to run. Trust me it’s not as bad as it sounds. As a former 3 sport college athlete I need something to keep my adrenalin going, something to hold hope that there will be one more game. I run because I can, it keeps me in shape, it clears my mind. The benefits of running are strongly outweighed by the cons and keep me happy, healthy and strong.

Last Sunday, April 27, 2014 I ran my first 5K. It was the Philly Run Wild through the Philly Zoo all to benefit the orangutans. First of all you have to understand that 3.1 miles for me is a warm up. I can easily run for 7+ miles without skipping a beat. In fact I think I held myself back a little during this race because I was still budgeting my energy for a longer run. But it was so much fun! The next day I came back to work and signed up for another 5K at the Working Dog Winery in East Windsor NJ!

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Right after Jess finished, is it just me or does she look a little tired?

With 5k fever on my mind I thought about eating cleaner, which is rough when your two best friends are Ben and Jerry’s, and the new Core Flavors, MMMM let me tell you, such an amazing game changer. Anyways, yes it’s true I don’t eat as clean as I should. I also have a small problem with gluten, or rather it has a small problem with me. I eat it, it kicks my ass, you get the picture. So I decided to cut out as much gluten as possible, and add more protein to my diet to hopefully gain those sexy running muscles (HA!).

With protein on my mind, and gluten out of my body I set out this week to develop a cookie that I won’t feel too bad eating, Ha, yeah right. While this recipe does not contain flour, it does contain a cup and a half of sugar, so you win some, you lose some. But on the positive side I do feel better when I grab 2 for breakfast.

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Fresh from the oven!

Flourless, Gluten Free, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

In the past I have made a gluten free, soy free, lactose free cookie similar to this, but not quite. If your dietary needs are all that and more please refer to Kim’s Kookies!

Makes about 36 cookies

Ingredients

2 cups natural crunchy peanut butter

1 ½ cups sugar

2 large eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 bag dark chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Put peanut butter, sugar, beaten eggs, baking soda and salt into a large bowl and mix.
  3. Mix in chocolate chips.
  4. Scoop into tablespoon sized bowls and place 2 inches apart on parchment paper lined cookie trays.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until they start to golden.

 

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Send Inspiration!!! (Perfect Chocolate, Chocolate Cake)

Lately I’ve gotten tired of the same old questions, “what’s new?” “Nothing”, “Whats up?” “Same ol’ same old.”, “Hows work?” “worky”. I need difference in my life, I need excitement. Luckily with the weather warming, cabin fever is finally wearing off and we can go for hikes and walks outside. Actually this past weekend I got to (re)plant potatoes with a local organic farm and got really, really sunburn – lobster status.

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Look! A wild Heron!

However even with this slight change in the weather I am still caught up in the mundane patterns of society. I don’t even know what to bake anymore, I’m running out of ideas, motivation is slipping from my slightly tan, and rather dry fingers. Bold statement warning: PLEASE SEND IDEAS! Ideas for baked goods, ideas for blog posts, give me a topic I can work with that. Give me a news article I can form something around that. I JUST NEED VARIATION IN MY LIFE. Okay boring rant aside I did get to make a pretty awesome cake recently. When you are 80 years old where do you see yourself? What do you hope to have accomplished in your life? To celebrate 80 years I made a 3 layered “zebra” cake for this wonderful lady (see photo below). This by far was the biggest cake I have ever made and the only time I made a tiered cake. I was actually stumped ealier in the week, I did not know what kind of support this cake would need. After a trip to A.C. Moore and $80 later I got the cake support I needed as well as a bunch of things I didn’t need. Image What I really want to tell you about in this cake is the chocolate. I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe, Hersey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate cake recipe. This is by far the richest, wettest, chocolatlyist cake I have ever had. This is not the first time I’ve used this recipe, Pair this with a peanut butter ganache you have a heart breaker. Pair this with a Bailys butter cream icing you have a dream. IMG_7964 Without further ado, Chocolate addicts please feast your eyes on the greatest chocolate cake recipe you may ever encounter   Hersey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake Recipe This will make a double layer cake easy. This time I paired it with a Bailys buttercream icing, it was a beautiful mixture of flavors. P.S. This is the same buttercream icing I use on the Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes. Ingredients: Cake – 2 cups sugar 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 2 eggs 1 cup milk 1/2 cup vegetable oil 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 cup boiling water Frosting – 2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature 5 cups powdered sugar 6 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream Directions: Cake

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, and grease 2 9 inch round baking pans
  2. In a large bowl combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt
  3. In a stand mixer mix eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet along with boiling water and mix, the batter will be thin, this is normal.
  5. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  6. Cool ten minutes before removing from pan, wait an additional 15 before frosting.

Frosting:

  1. In a stand mixer whip the butter on medium speed for 5 minutes scraping the sides of the bowl down periodically.
  2. Add the powder sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing between each cup, until fully incorporated.
  3. Add the Baileys and whip until light and fluffy.

Off the Funfetti Bandwagon (Faux Funfetti Blondies)

Bold statement warning: I HATE FUNFETTI, damn you Pillsbury for turning your sprinkles filled boxed cake mix into a phenomenon.

It seems that everything is Funfetti lately, walking through the food store you can stumble upon: pancake mix, woppie pie mix, cookie mix and of course cake mix. Don’t get me wrong, I love the colors. Trust me; I would be the last person to say that baked goods are better without rainbows, however Funfetti box mix dampers the creativity of bakers.

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Example 1, Courtney:

“I NEED A FUNFETTI BIRTHDAY CAKE!!!” she exclaims with the excitement of a three year old.

“Okay, I’ll just whip up my own Funfetti recipe and…”  I knew that wouldn’t fly. As soon as the words left my mouth regret struck. What was I thinking? Funfetti is Courtney’s birth right, that’s the cake she has always had for her birthday.

“No! I want the box!” 21 years of age, 21!!! I am scared that she is going to lie down in the isle and start throwing a temper tantrum like a 3 year old. I grab the box in hope that a meltdown is avoided. One isle later my fears again are stirred up, “LOOK, FUNFETTI PANCAKE MIX !” Okay, Im not going to lie, I make pretty boss pancakes, growing up I have never used a box mix; even in college I never used a box mix. For Courtney’s birthday I used a boxed Funfetti pancake mix.

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As a baker who is obsessed with doing things from scratch, I firmly believe that Pillsbury has everyone brainwashed. If I make a white cake and throw some sprinkles in you will have the same effect! Home Made Funfetti is way more convenient than running to the store and buying a box, and Funfetti pancake mix is just pancake mix with sprinkles thrown in I CAN DO THE SAME THING!

This past weekend was a washout, at least 3 inches of rain and nothing to do but bake all day. Can you guess what Courtney requested? Funfetti blondies. First of all, my feelings about Funfetti are stated above; second of all, I am not a Blondies fan I am a chocolate fan! Why have vanilla brownies? That’s just a waste of potential chocolate dessert in my eyes.

I imagine that typical Funfetti Blondies would taste like cake, and most recipes I looked up did indeed require the boxed mix. As you can probably guess, I did not go that route. My blondies taste more like chocolate chip cookie dough, yes dough, not the cookies. I made these suckers on Saturday night and let me tell you, they tasted wonderful Sunday morning warmed up for breakfast!

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Faux Funfetti Blondies

Ingredients

1cup butter (room temp or slightly melted)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch salt
2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Sprinkles as desired

Directions:

  1.        Preheat oven to 350.
  2.        Cream the butter and the sugars using a stand mixer
  3.        Mix in the egg and vanilla
  4.        Add in the flour, baking soda, salt and mix till combined. The dough will be dry.
  5.        With a spoon or your hands mix in the chocolate chips and sprinkles
  6.        Spread out in  a 9X9 greased pan and cook until just golden or 18-20 minutes

 

How to Murder a 12 Year Old’s Dreams (The Best Brownies Ever)

What was the best birthday cake you ever had? On my 12th birthday I dreamed of my cake: rich in chocolate, light, melt in your mouth, the center piece of my birthday party. I never got it.

I have always been particular about my birthday cakes, and my mother has always delivered. Growing up you could say I had an elaborate imagination. I once had a fish themed birthday party and I wanted my cake to be a fish tank. You can bet your bottom dollar that my mom made a chocolate cake decorated as one. On my 18th birthday I told my mom to get creative, actually I told her that I just wanted cannoli’s.  She made a four layer chocolate cake with chocolate mousse icing, and cannoli filling between the layers. I still remember it today; the icing was so light, and so rich in chocolate with a hint of coffee flavor, and the cake, so moist, so light, paired perfectly with the sweet creamy cannoli filling with crunches of mini chocolate chips. It almost makes up for my twelfth birthday, almost.

Brownies

The best chocolate brownie ever!

Twelve was a weird age for me, while I was playing out in the dirt and on the basketball court; all of my friends were growing up and becoming more girly. They all started to care about their hair, boys, lip gloss and being popular. I just cared if I could make ten foul shots in a row, or make the game winning goal in field hockey (some things never change). I was torn between brushing my long matted hair, or cutting it all off to a short pixy cut. Things were definitely changing.

I made a big decision for my birthday that year, I wanted a big chocolate cake with pink icing (are you finding a pattern here with the chocolate). Pink. This was a big decision for me, normally I did purple, green, white, chocolate, chocolate with candy on top, never pink. My mother was slightly thrilled, I was finally embracing my girl side, maybe next I would start brushing my hair and wearing dresses (spoiler alert that did not come until college, the dress part at least). My mother agreed with the biggest smile on her face to make this the best cake ever. You know when your mother says something and you know she is being truthful, she says it with passion and the biggest smile on her face.

Chocolate milk with chocolate brownies... Can you ever have too much chocolate?

Chocolate milk with chocolate brownies… Can you ever have too much chocolate?

My birthday was just like any other, I played outside all morning with my neighbor. Somewhere between racing dirt bikes and climbing the sappy evergreen trees I decided I had to come home to get ready for my party. As soon as I pulled the heavy sliding glass door open, I could tell something was not as it should be.  Have you ever watched a show on TV where the evil genius has this crazy smirk on his face, it was kind of like that. My mother quickly ushered me out of the kitchen, assuring me that everything was fine and that company would be coming soon, I should shower. She was my mom, what else should little naive me believe?

Let’s fast-forward through the party; it was great, family and friends everywhere, different pasta and potato salads sitting on paper plates with flies trying to land on them, all my uncles were drunk, you know typical children’s birthday party. Time for cake.

I sat down at the big dining room table, feeling somewhat lost in the magnitude of the chair at the head of the table.  There was no cake yet, this should have been my first warning sign. The singing began all upbeat and happy, I saw my mother bringing the cake tray from the kitchen to the dining room. Something was not right; I did not see a cake. There was no pink fluffy frosting, no cotton candy clouds of white, no rainbows bursting from the cake in magical glee, in fact there wasn’t even a cake. In front of me my mom dropped with a thud, a flat, heavy, uncooked version of a chocolate cake. No icing, no candles, no nothing.  When the birthday song was over, which now sounded to me like a gaggle of drowning frogs, I did not know what to do. There were no candles to blow out, no wish to make, and no cake! My mom blurted out, “surprise, brownies instead!” everyone started laughing. Was it me they were laughing at, my misfortune, my flat, icingless cake?

I brushed it off. I was 12, tough 12 year olds don’t cry. The cake was never cut, it was thrown out. We had cookies and ice cream instead. Apparently my mom was so busy with preparing everything else she forgot a few key ingredients in the cake.

I never forgave her. Okay that sounds horrible, don’t get me wrong, I love my mother. But after that I was always hesitant to put my trust in her baking, especially after a  few years later when she tried to make me cookies. But that’s another story.

 

Watch out, Courtney couldn't even wait till they were out of the oven!

Watch out, Courtney couldn’t even wait till they were out of the oven!

The Best Brownies Ever

While these brownies are super chocolaty and quite possibly the best brownies ever, I have to warn you – the batter is better. If you can muster up the courage to actually eat the brownies you will not be disappointed.

Ingredients:

¾ cup cocoa

½ teaspoon baking soda

2/3 cup melted butter, divided

1/2 Cup boiling water

2 Cups Sugar

2 eggs

1 1/3 Cup Flour

1 Teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

12 oz bag of semi sweet chocolate chip

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350

Combine cocoa and baking soda, mix in 1/3 cup of melted butter and boiling water, mix until combined.

Stir in sugar and remaining butter.

Add flour, vanilla, and salt,  and chocolate chips. Mix well.

Pour into a greased 9×13 pan, bake for 35-40 minutes.

 

Drinking at Work (Irish Car Bomb Cupcake)

Do you know how hard it is to write a post about St. Patrick’s Day when you don’t understand the holiday? I don’t own a single article of green clothing, I’ve never had green beer, I don’t like traditional Irish food, and leprechauns have to be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of.

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When I was in second grade I tried to “catch a leprechaun” by building an elaborate trap out of Legos, Tupperware, and shiny things. I made the mistake of not telling my mom that I made this, and needless to say I didn’t even catch a fake leprechaun, that’s when I gave up on St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe in Ireland this has a special meaning, maybe Irish people in the states have a connection to this day, maybe one day I will like corn beef and cabbage, but today is not that day.

The only thing I like about St. Patrick’s day is a good Irish Car Bomb, which could be considered offensive to the Irish I suppose. A shot of equal parts Irish whisky and Baileys, dropped into a three quarter glass of Guinness stout. If not taken within thirty seconds of dropping, you can expect this mixture to curdle into an unappetizing mixture that makes you wonder what your stomach is going to do when you drink one. While I do not know the history of this shot, but can almost guarantee this was not invented by the Irish, however has become a staple on St. Patrick’s Day. May the luck of the Irish be with you if you choke down more than 3 of these mixtures, and may what happens in the glass not happen in your stomach.

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Cupcakes for days

While I do like a good shot at the bar, drinking all day at work is not acceptable. However drinking in a cupcake is acceptable. The Irish Car Bomb Cupcake is by far my favorite cupcake that I have made in my entire life. A stout cupcake with a whisky ganache filling and a Bailey’s buttercream frosting gets me every time. This is the one cupcake I will not share the recipe, if you want it made you can find your own recipe, however mine is the best.

May the luck of the Irish be with you!

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Questions or Comments? Please email NotSoCulinaryGraduate@hotmail.com

23 wanna be (Chocolate Salted Stout Cupcakes)

How come growing up no one told me professional extreme athlete was a valid career choice? Was I not good enough, or pretty enough? Did I not grow up in a proper area? I am really to blame because my parents were worried about my safety 24/7? I want a refund.

Social media brings us all closer to strangers. Every morning I roll over in bed grab my phone and stalk Instagram. I follow a few professional athletes and I love to see where they are in the world, from surf to snow, Fiji to The Rockies, there are no limits for these athletes. I am jealous, to say the least. From Jamie Anderson to Lakey Peterson, I want their lives!

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I could definitely handle this life.

Growing up I was never able to “push the limits” of these sports. Surfing to me was an escape. My parents would drag 900 pounds of umbrellas, blankets, coolers, small tents and sunscreen to the beach; I on the other hand, would drag a board in hopes that I wouldn’t have to be embarrassed by them telling me to apply sunscreen every 15 minutes (I was also the least tanned kid on the beach). But growing up opportunities to become a professional athlete never opened for me, who wants to take the whitest kid on the beach and farm them to have potential, not to mention who wants to take a kid from Jersey where our biggest waves are only 3 feet.

Snowboarding in Jersey (or the East Coast in general) was also a joke. I learned to snowboard when I was 16 (already too old to be a professional). As a family we went up to Vermont one weekend and I took a snowboarding lesson with my cousins, while my Mom and Dad learned to ski. I tried really hard to pick it up, but you can only learn so much in a weekend. My Father did not do so well skiing, even to this day he does not find it enjoyable, so needless to say that trip to Vermont was our last. I went snowboarding at least once a year, every year, till my senior year in college, that’s when I met Courtney. My parents took me to a shop to buy a snowboard for my 22nd birthday and my little dread head walked into my life. For the past 2 years I have gone snowboarding more times than I can count, I have even gone to California (story here), but now that I am 23 I am too old to experience a professional career or even too old to enter any camps to get better!

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In Mammoth

So here is a shout out to all those brands supporting the careers of athletes… Why can’t I be a 23 year old professional athlete? Wouldn’t a 23 year old athlete who strives to be the best make a good role model for those who are younger, or even older? Why not take on a 23 year old and give them the training experience of a life time?

Let me tell you something, I am competitive, I have drive, and nothing can keep me down. I would be the best person for a professional team to farm, even if I am 23 years old. Teach me. I have so much will to learn, I am constantly telling Courtney to teach me more teach me more, she gets so tired of hearing it. So it takes a year or two, I promise I will be the best.

Progressing sixteen year olds can only be so inspiring. Who am I supposed to look up to? There are very few professional athletes who have started at the age 16, they are all winning metals and stealing the spotlight by then. As a 23 year old, I have no one to look up to, and I’m sure many women of my age feel the same. How are we to progress when 16 year olds have already done it? What do you think that does to my ego (spoiler alert, its crushed).

After going on our trip to Mammoth, my eyes have been opened. I want to live out west, I want to ride every day, I want the opportunity to learn and grow in these types of sports. But who will take me up on that offer?

Sincerely, 23 and a professional wanna be.

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Best chocolate cupcake I’ve had in a while!

Salted Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

Had a bad day? What a better to eat your feelings then with stout cupcakes. These taste like a chocolate covered pretzel and make the chocolate lovers night complete.

Makes roughly 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cake

1 cup chocolate stout

3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1/2 tsp. salt

2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Chocolate Buttercream Icing (Need to double if you are piping your frosting)

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature

1/2 cup cocoa powder

2 cups powdered/confectioner’s sugar

1/4 cup milk

Sea salt for garnishing

Directions:

Cake

  1. In a small sauce pan melt butter, when its melted add stout and bring to a low simmer.
  2. While the butter beer mixture is simmering beat sugar and eggs in a stand mixer. Add flour, and salt.
  3. Mix butter milk and baking soda, and mix into the dough along with the vanilla.
  4. Take the butter and stout mixture off simmering and whisk in the cocoa, when smooth mix into dough.
  5. Mix everything until incorporated, pour into cupcake liners (3/4 the way full) and bake on 375 degrees for 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

For Icing:

  1. WAIT TILL THE CUPCAKES ARE COOLED
  2. Pour all the ingredients into a stand mixture, whip slowly at first and then at medium speed until fluffy or around 2 minutes.
  3. Pipe or frost onto cupcakes
  4. Sprinkle sea salt on top just for flavor

 

Questions or Comments? Please email NotSoCulinaryGraduate@hotmail.com