Friday Favorites | No. 21

Friday, May 29, 2015

I can't believe it is Fri-YAY again! I am a major fan of the 4-day work week and think that it should become a thing...don't you all agree? Here is a quick look at my top five favorite moments from this past week:

The drive up to my Dad's house is a little over 3 hours and packed full with beautiful California scenery.

Rocky was a tad camera shy during feeding time one night, but one of the sweetest horses at the ranch!

These lemon-blueberry crumb bars!

I love having fresh flowers in my place and found these beautiful soft pink peonies at Trader Joe's.

On Friday's I have been treating myself to Starbucks and today was no different!

So there you have it folks; short and sweet! What were some of your favorite highlights from this week?

Lemon-Blueberry Crumb Bars

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Alright, I think I have a problem.

And that problem is that I am obsessed with the combination of lemon and blueberry! I guess you could say that this obsession it is equivalent to my obsession with pumpkin in the fall. Is anyone with me on this? Lemon just pairs so well with blueberry and just brightens up any dessert.

I spent last weekend up at my Dad's horse ranch in central California; it was great to get away from the "city life" and head out to the country for some nice down time. Since my Dad lives a few hours away from me, he doesn't get a chance to taste a lot of the recipes I make on the blog. So I decided to change that and bake him something while I was up at the ranch!

We decided to make a batch of lemon-blueberry crumb bars as we are are both fans of this great flavor combination. So while my Dad was out feeding all the horses, I went into the kitchen and got started on the bars. After they came out of the oven and cooled, it was time for tasting. Dad gave them two thumbs up and I would agree! The sweetness from the blueberries melds so well with the creamy filling and make this dessert so amazingly light and refreshing.

Lemon-Blueberry Crumb Bars

{yields: 20 servings}

½ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 box yellow cake mix
2 eggs, divided
2-8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
zest and juice from 1 lemon
2 cups fresh blueberries

First preheat our oven to 350 degrees. Then line a 13"x9" pan with tin foil making sure some of it extends over the sides. Place the ½ cup of unsalted butter into a microwave safe bowl and heat for 1 minute or until melted.

Then in a mixing bowl, add the box of yellow cake mix (you could also use a lemon cake mix here as well!), along with 1 egg and the melted butter. Mix until combined.

Take ⅔ of the dough and gently press it into the bottom of the pan. Save the remaining dough for the top.

In a separate mixing bowl, add the softened cream cheese and ½ cup of granulated sugar and beat until smooth and fluffy.  Add in the remaining egg along with the zest and juice from one large lemon and mix until combined.

Carefully pour cream cheese mixture over the dough and sprinkle on top 2 cups of fresh and ripe blueberries.

Then with the remaining ⅓ of dough, pinch off small pieces and place over the top of berries. Place pan in the oven on the center rack and bake for to 55 minutes to an hour or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.

Cool bars completely before removing from pan and cutting. Bars need to be refrigerated until ready to serve.

These bars are so light and refreshing and would be the perfect end to a summer BBQ! What are some of your favorite desserts to eat in the summer?

Slightly adapted from Kraft Recipes

Friday Favorites - Memorial Day Edition

Friday, May 22, 2015

Yay, we made it to Friday! It has been a pretty low key week for me with not much happening around these parts, so I decided to dedicate this "Friday Favorites" post to my top five Memorial Day recipes, desserts and cocktails (it's 5 o'clock somewhere, right!):

My Lemon Blueberry Clafoutis. This light and busting with flavor dessert just screams "welcome summer"!

These red, white and blue fruit skewers with cheesecake yogurt dip.

Nothing says summer and bbq's like deviled eggs and these bacon jalapeƱo ones are savory and spicy!

These Lemon Crinkle Cookies. Lemon and white chocolate...enough said!

Last, but not least this peach prosecco punch!

What are some of your favorite dishes to bring to family bbqs and gatherings? Wishing you all a happy weekend :)

Ghirardelli Award Winning Brownies

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ghirardelli is my favorite brand of chocolate to bake with because it is always rich and full of flavor. They make a Sweet Ground Cocoa powder and I have used for years to make creamy hot chocolate, molten lava mini cakes and more.

But my absolute favorite dessert to make with this cocoa powder is their award winning brownies. After just one bite, you will understand why they are "award winning" and will be lost in the rich and moist chocolatey, almost fudge like consistency that will have you asking for seconds, and thirds and fourths....

Ghirardelli Award Winning Brownies

{yield: 9 big pieces, 18 small pieces}

2 eggs
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup butter, melted
¾ cup Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Cocoa 
 cup flour
¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
½ to 1 cup mini chocolate chips

First you will want to preheat your oven to 350 degrees, then grease the bottom and sides of an 8"x8" or 9"x9" square baking pan (I use an 8"x8" pan).

In a large bowl, stir together the eggs, sugar and vanilla. Carefully add the Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Cocoa along with the flour, baking powder and salt to the egg mixture and fold until almost combined.

Add the ½ cup of melted butter to the batter and mix until no traces of flour or cocoa powder remain. At this point, you can also add in any other mix-ins such as walnuts or the chocolate chips, but I prefer to add those to the top of the brownies before it goes into the oven.

Pour brownie batter into the greased square baking pan and smooth. Sprinkle the top with mini chocolate chips (and/or walnuts) then place in the oven to bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove brownies from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Serve these bad boys with a tall glass of milk or make them even more decadent and sever warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream drizzle with hot fudge and caramel sauce. You're welcome!

Peanut Butter Cloud Pie

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

When one of your friends loves and I mean LOVES peanut butter, plus its their birthday; you can only do one thing....make peanut butter cloud pie to celebrate!

This pie is amazing. Like you need to make it ASAP amazing. The creamy, "light as air" peanut butter mousse and fudgy chocolate ganache layer are a match made in heaven and will be a hit with all the peanut butter lovers in your life! 

Peanut Butter Cloud Pie

{yield: 8 to 10 servings}

1 pre-made (6 inch) graham cracker crust

Peanut Butter Ganache:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbps. creamy peanut butter
1 tps. vanilla extract

Peanut Butter Mousse:
1 cup creamy peanut butter
⅔ cup powdered sugar
1 tps. vanilla extract
1 ¾ cup heavy whipping cream, divided

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Once the oven is at the correct temperature, place the graham cracker crust in the oven and bake for 5-10 minutes or until the edges are golden brown (make sure you keep an eye on the crust during this process!). Allow pie shell to cool completely before adding any of the filling.

For the peanut butter chocolate ganache, combine chocolate chips, heavy whipping cream, peanut butter and vanilla extract in a microwave safe bowl. Place bowl into the microwave and heat for 30 seconds. Stir mixture and continue to microwave in 15 second increments if needed. Stir mixture until smooth and reserve ¼ cup of the ganache for the top of the pie.

The ganache should chill in the fridge for 5 minutes before carefully pouring it into the bottom of the baked graham cracker crust. Smooth with a spatula, then place the pie back into the fridge to chill.

The peanut butter mousse is so simple to make and taste absolutely heavenly! To make, start by blending together the peanut butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and ¾ cup of heavy whipping cream until smooth and creamy.

In a separate mixing bowl, add the remaining 1 cup of heavy whipping cream and whisk until soft peaks form. Divide the peanut butter mixture into thirds and carefully fold in the mixture ⅓ at a time into the whipping cream until completely combined.

Remove pie shell from the fridge and add the peanut butter mousse on top of the set ganache layer.

Microwave the reserved ¼ cup of ganache and drizzle it over the top of the pie. Feel free add any other topping you might like such as peanuts or peanut butter chips, etc.

Place pie back into the fridge to chill for at least an hour or two before serving. I find its best to serve after being refrigerated over night, as it has more time to really set up.

Be prepared for your taste buds to send you straight to peanut butter heaven after just one bite!

Friday Favorites | No. 20

Friday, May 15, 2015

Happy Friday everyone! Hope you all have had a great sure has been a fun and busy one for me. Here's a look back at some highlights from this week:

This past weekend I took my workout outside and hiked to the back of the Hollywood Sign!  It was a 7.8 mile round trip hike with amazing views and if you in the LA area, this is something to put on your to-do list.

Sunday was spent at the pool relaxing, enjoying the sunshine and BBQ-ing.

Crepes were the perfect end to my friend Adi's birthday celebration on Wednesday night!

Whipped up something yummy that will be on the blog next week!

I saw an early viewing of Pitch Perfect 2 and it was ACA-AMAZING!

Hope you all have a great weekend...spending it doing something you enjoy!

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Do you ever get in the mood for something sweet late at night? I sure do and most nights when I am in the mood for something sweet, I am also not in the mood to make something that requires a lot of equipment or time.

Well, these chewy chocolate chips cookies are the perfect solution! They have a soft chewy center, golden brown edges and are PACKED with chocolate chips. But do you want to know the best part about this recipe? It doesn't require the use of an electric mixer and makes just 12 cookies!

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

{yield: 12 cookies}

1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet (you will only need one because its a half batch of cookies!) with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt together, then set aside.

In a separate bowl, add the brown sugar, granulated sugar and melted butter and whisk until combined. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Carefully add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and fold together until a soft dough forms. The last step is to add in the cup of chocolate chips!

Using a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop, scoop balls of dough and place them on the parchment lined cookie sheet leaving 2 inches of space. 

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes (make sure to rotate the sheet halfway through) or until the edges are a light golden brown. Let the cookies cool slightly on the sheet before transferring to a wire rack.  

These fast and super yummy chewy chocolate chip cookies will stay fresh for 3 to 4 days if placed in an air tight container, but mine never seem to last that long....

"The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook" by America's Test Kitchen

Back to Basics: Perfect Pancakes

Monday, May 11, 2015

Pancakes are such a fast and easy breakfast food to make. You can doll them up with fruit toppings to chocolate chips and whip cream, but finding a recipe that makes perfect light, fluffy and flavorful pancakes that can stand up on their own, is difficult to come by.

Well, lucky for you...I am sharing a recipe today that will give you the fluffiest and most flavorful pancakes. All you will need to add to these bad boys is a dollop of butter and a drizzle of maple syrup to make your taste buds say YUM!

Perfect Pancakes

{yield: 10-12}

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
1 cup milk
2 tbsp. sour cream
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1 tsp. vegetable oil or butter, plus extra as needed

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together until combined.  

In a separate bowl, add milk, sour cream (this is the magical ingredient that makes these babies so soft and fluffy!), melted butter and egg and whisk together until mixture is smooth.  

Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and gently fold with a rubble spatula until just combined. Don't worry if the mixture is lumpy and if there are a few spots of dry flour; the key here is to not over mix!

Using a 12-inch a skillet or a griddle pan, heat your butter or vegetable oil over medium heat until simmering. Then take a few paper towels and wipe out excess until just a thin layer of oil or butter is left covering the pan.

Using a ¼ dry measuring cup, scoop up batter and slowly pour into skillet. Cook the pancakes until the edges of the pancakes are set and the bubbles on top begin to pop, around 2 to 3 minutes and then flip.

Cook on the other side until pancakes are golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove pancakes from skillet and serve immediately or place on a wire rack in a warm oven to keep hot until you are ready to serve. Continue this same process until all the batter has been used. 

 Serve with a little pad of butter and a drizzle of maple syrup, then enjoy!

Slightly adapted from "The Complete Cookbook for Two" by America's Test Kitchen

Friday Favorites | No. 19

Friday, May 8, 2015

Happy Fri-YAY everyone!  Here is a quick look back at my top five moments from this week:

I realized a few weeks ago that I have not purchased a new swimsuit in about 3 to 4 years and after searching online for numerous days, I felt like I was never going to find a suit that I liked. I headed off to Target thinking they have to have something and went to their mix and match section. And guess what? I found not one, but two suits!

With more free time due to not having many athletic events with the school year ending, I headed over to HomeGoods to just "look around" and ended up leaving with this AMAZING smelling candle and a few other odds and ends.

These cookies...if you have not made them already, you need to this weekend!

Legally Blonde is now on Netflix!

Nothing says spring like these fresh tulips from TJ's.

Those are my top five moments of the week! What were some of yours?!
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