Monday, October 3, 2011

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Chip Blondies

Blondies, blondies, blondies. My first consumption of a blondie was at my first serving job at Ruby Tuesday. On occasion, a server would mess up an order ("accidentally," of course) and the food would be considered "dead" and that meant that all the servers could secretly pull the dead food item aside and share with other co-workers. As servers, we would scarf that food down like vultures. It wouldn't happen often but when it did, it was glorious. It was in one of these moments, that I tasted my first blondie.

I found this great recipe from Annie's Eats (another culinary genius). I made the recipe my own but the great thing is you can add any candy and special treat to equal your mood.

What is a blondie exactly? According to wiki (don't tell my college professors), it is a brown sugar based dessert resembling it's bff, the chocolate brownie. In my simple terms, it is like a thicker cookie made in a cake form. And it's oh so delicious.

In fact, the first time I made these, I placed them in the oven, set an alarm on my phone and of course, someone called me. Since I was on the phone and my alarm didn't go off until I got off the phone, the blondies were in the oven a full 16 minutes over the time I was supposed to take them out. To my surprise, they were amazing! You can't go wrong with them. Here's a simple recipe (you probably have all the ingredients in your pantry now!).

1/8 cup of butter (or margarine)
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I just found a recipe to make my own! So excited!)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of flour
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
3/4 cup of chocolate chips
1/4 cup of peanut butter chips (yum!)

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Use PAM to grease an 8x8 inch pan or 9x12 glass pan. I used a 9x12 pan (the blondies will be thicker in an 8x8 inch pan... either way is tasty).
2. Heat butter in a mug (mug = easier handling) for about 30-45 seconds and allow to cool off for a few minutes.
3. Mix butter and brown sugar with a mixer in a medium bowl and beat until smooth.
4. Beat in the egg and then the vanilla.
5. Add in the flour, salt and baking powder and blend until smooth. Then add in your chocolate & peanut butter chips (you could add in M&M's, toffee chips, Reese's peanut butter cups, nuts, anything really) and mix by hand until evenly distributed.
6. Pour delicious batter in the greased pan and spread around. Cook for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Take out and let cool for a few minutes then cut into squares. These babies are so good and since they are so easy, you'll want to make them over and over again. You've been warned.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Easy Pizza Crust

Oh, pizza. I think it's safe to save that pizza is one of my favorite foods. I could eat it every day... and sometimes that just may be the case. I'll take frozen, delivery, take out, cheap or expensive. It's all delish to me. So why not venture into the world of making my own pizza crust? That is the most tasty part of a pizza if I do say so myself.

I've been researching the easiest pizza crust recipe alive. One that doesn't involve fancy equipment or long hours to create and rise.

I stumbled upon this recipe from one of my favorite money saving websites ironically named She is a super mom and I aspire to be like her. I don't know how she does it all.  I tweaked the recipe a tiny bit to make it my own. You can find the original recipe here.

Not to brag or anything, but this was my first pizza crust recipe and well, it turned out perfect to me. It was so simple. The ingredients are all things I had on hand and the best part is that you don't have to let the yeast rise. I couldn't have asked for something easier.

You ready? Let's go.

1 tablespoon dry yeast (this will be more than one packet of yeast)
1 cup warm water (needs to be warm enough to feed to a baby, about 105° to 115° F)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 cups bread flour plus extra for flouring a surface

1. Preaheat oven to 450° F.
2. Dissolve the yeast into the warm water (about 5-10 minutes). Add the rest of the ingredients into the bowl and mix for about a minute.
3. Pour mixture onto clean, floured surface. Make sure your hands are covered with flour so that the dough doesn't stick to you.
4. Knead by hand into a smooth ball for about 5-10 minutes. Don't know how to knead? I didn't either until this handy youtube video. It should look something like this:

If you press your finger into the ball, the dough should have enough elasticity to bounce back after you puncture it. Continue to add extra flour into the dough to take most of the moisture out.
5. Sprinkle some cornmeal onto a greased baking sheet or pizza stone (this gives it some texture). I've also read that turning a pan upside down and putting the pizza on top it will act just like a pizza stone but I haven't tried it out yet.
6. Add toppings and bake for 12-15 minutes.
7. Sit back, enjoy, and be very, very impressed.

The toppings we used were 1/2 cup tomato sauce, 3/4 to 1 cup of mozzarella, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, about 25 pepperonis, one sausage link browned, home grown basil, garlic, garlic salt, crushed red pepper, and Italian seasoning. Oh, man. It was so good. I'm dreaming about it right now.

You can put it in a freezer bag right after you knead the dough into a ball and stick it in your freezer. Just put it in the fridge for about 6 hours before you want to use it.

I have one in the freezer right now just waiting to be devoured but I just got my wisdom teeth out yesterday (yep, all 4) and am eating only soft, baby foods right now.

Getting sick = fantastic reason to blog.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend. Let me know if anyone has any favorite pizza combinations that they want to share other than the usual pepperoni & cheese.