Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake

When I was younger, I was strictly a Barbie and stuffed animal girl.
No Polly Pockets or Bratz Dolls for me, man.
And I certainly would NOT stand for any Strawberry Shortcake Doll cramping up my style.
I soon had developed a chronically negative connotation for those two words.
Strawberry Shortcake.
To me, I saw only creepy bonnets and pasty freckles. Bleh.
Give me my emaciated Barbie doll, please.
And then, things changed.

As soon as I took my first bite, gone were all traces of the disturbing associations.
I was hooked.
I am hooked.
I love everything about this cake.
The buttery goodness of the shortbread.
The light, fluffy whipped cream.
And of course, the juicy, sweet strawberries.
Seriously, what's not to love?

Strawberry Shortcake (recipe from Food Network Kitchen Favorite Recipes)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Strawberries and Cream
2 pints strawberries
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and butter an 8-inch round cake pan. Line the cake pan with parchment paper, and re-butter and lightly flour the entire pan. Whisk together the first four ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl. Add the last four ingredients and mix until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a rack for ten minutes, then flip the cake out to cool completely.
Save 1 pint of the most attractive strawberries for topping the cake with. With the second half, thinly slice the berries and toss with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Whip the cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla extract in a bowl until soft peaks form.
Cut the cake in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Spread the sliced berries on the bottom half of the cake. Place the top half on top of that. Spread the whipped cream on the top half and plop the whole berries on top of that. Enjoy!

Butter, flour, and line the pan with parchment paper. 

Mix together the dry ingredients.

Melt your butter. I've found that the best way to do this is by melting it so that only a few soft chunks of butter remain. Melt the squishy pieces simply by stirring. This way, you can make sure that the butter doesn't burn.

Pour your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. 

Stir until combined, then...

Pour into the prepared pan and...

Bake for about 25 minutes.

Turn out onto the rack after 10 minutes. While it is cooling...

Prepare your whipped cream...

And your (blurry) strawberries, then...

Cut the cake in half...

Top the bottom half with strawberries...

Sandwich it all together...

Add a healthy layer of whipped cream...

And top with strawberries! Enjoy!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Chocolate Swirl Zucchini Bread

Plain zucchinis. Eh.
Zucchini bread. YUM.
Chocolate. YUM.
Chocolate Swirl Zucchini Bread. Double YUM.

I adore all kinds of quick bread. They are easy, moist, and delicious.
Throw some chocolate in, and this adoration quickly becomes love.
Previously, my main source of chocolate in quick breads was plain, semi-sweet chocolate chip morsels. They did the job wonderfully, and added gooey, messy, amazing globs of chocolate to each bite.
And then I was introduced to an art form.
The chocolate swirl.
It adds the same gooey, messy, amazing chocolate flavor with less of the mess and much more attractiveness. I highly suggest it.

Chocolate Swirl Zucchini Bread (Adapted from The Junior League Centennial Cookbook)

2  cups finely grated zucchini
1 cup chocolate chips
1 whole egg plus 2 egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
2/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Butter and flour two 8-inch loaf pans and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the wet ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in the zucchini. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave and stir in a few spoonfuls of batter into the melted chocolate until well combined. Alternately spoon the chocolate and zucchini bread mixture into the prepared pans, starting with the zucchini bread mixture and ending with the chocolate mixture. Bake for about 45 minutes and then cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Flip the bread out and enjoy!

Butter and lightly flour the bread pans. I like to cut out a little rectangle of wax paper and stick it to the bottom so the bread is easier to pop out. 

...Also because when you peel the wax paper out it looks like this :)

Get your eggs ready. Don't do this. I totally didn't, of course. 

The two egg whites will make it look like a giant mammoth egg. 

Mix together the wet ingredients...

Mix together the dry ingredients...

Combine them and fold in the zucchini...

Add some zucchini bread batter to the melted chocolate (sorry about the blurriness...awks.)...

And spoon it all in!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Frozen Banana Milkshake

I never ever thought I would say this.
Whew. It's a little scary for me, but I think...
I think I might have OD'd on chocolate and butter and sugar yesterday.
And now I am craving,
healthy things.
I know, so crazy right?
You see, my friends and I got together yesterday and attempted to make cake balls.
Or attempted to eat them all. Whatever. Same thing, right? And amidst all the chocolate icing and vanilla buttercream frosting and chocolate sheet cake and vanilla cake I think I had a food baby. A really unhealthy, fat food baby made out of 3 cups of powdered sugar and heaping amounts of softened butter.

Those may or may not be little fruit snacks atop our cake balls. 

And then at breakfast today, I ate the leftovers. Actually, I ravenously inhaled the leftovers. Because my friends, the dear friends that they are, left all the icing and frosting and smooshy gooey cake remains in my refrigerator. Leaving no other option but to eat it all so that it would be out of my sight forever. I kid you not. And so now, I am craving healthy. Lentils and quinoa, my belly craves you. Turn my organs into healthy, working vitals again. Scrape them clean of melted butter and creamed sugar. Be a sweetheart and detoxify my liver. Thankfully, one of my favorite healthy treats during the summer is one that every food blogger has seen and possibly drooled over the simplicity of it. Banana soft-serve.

Now, I am aware that everybody has their own spin on this adaptable recipe, but I like to keep things simple. A frozen banana, some milk, vanilla extract, maybe a dash of cinnamon. Sometimes I'll throw in a little spinach or pumpkin to keep things exciting, but really, it all tastes delicious.

Frozen Banana Milkshake

1 frozen banana
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Throw everything into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Enjoy!
*Note: For a soft-serve "ice cream" texture, omit the milk and just blend the banana and vanilla.

Start with your frozen banana...

Add your milk and vanilla...

Plop it all in the blender (don't worry, it gets prettier!)...

And serve!

 Side note: I am making steamed carrots. I love steamed carrots. I also really really love that little steamer contraption.
You know, these little doodads? So cute.
I also love saying that I had steamed carrots. So much more sophisticated :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Blueberry Muffins (Low-Fat and Delicious!)

Blueberries. Never met someone who didn't like 'em. Same goes with muffins. I absolutely love love love blueberry muffins. They are the reason I exist. Actually not really. I exist for chocolate chip pancakes too.
But one of the things I love most about a good muffin, blueberry or not, is the crunchy, crisp muffin top. Poorly made muffins and/or grocery store muffins leave out this vital element and therefore deliver a mediocre, all-around squishy product. But alas! This problem is easily solved through the use of one special ingredient. Turbinado sugar. If you don't have it, I would recommend going out to the grocery store and buying yourself some assoonaspossible. Or you can just visit Starbucks or Caribou and steal yourself some packets. They come in the little brown paper packaging. I won't tell anybody. But really, use some. I promise, it will make a difference.

See? Even this blurry muffin liner is beautiful. 

Blueberry Muffins (adapted from this link)


3 cups minus 2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
Heavy pinch of salt
Dash of cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1 egg
1 cup plain, unflavored yogurt
2 cups fresh blueberries
Vanilla extract
Softened butter or muffin cups for muffin tins
Turbinado sugar 

Preheat your oven to 385 degrees. Then look at it funny for a little while because you have never preheated your oven to 385 degrees before. Sift together the first 5 ingredients, through cinnamon. In a larger bowl, whisk together the sugar, applesauce, egg, and half a cap full of vanilla until just combined. Fold in the blueberries. Pour into the prepared muffins tins and sprinkle with Turbinado sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes and let cool in the pan on a rack. Enjoy! 

Sift your dry ingredients...

Try very hard not to eat the majority of the batter...

Finish by sprinkling with Turbinado sugar!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies. I want them. I cannot stop eating them. Help me. I am hooked.

This is the only kind of cookie that I like as much as the dough. That's saying something. I L-O-V-E cookie dough. But these You'll just have to see for yourself. My mom prefers crispy cookies. She doesn't like soft, squishy cookies. I, on the other hand, would choose an under-baked, soft chocolate chipper 100 times over a crispy one. We have completely different tastes. Except this cookie, THIS special, delicious, wonderful cookie is magical. Because we BOTH love it. The crispy cookie connoisseur and the fat, fluffy cookie freak have found a common bond.

These cookies are like the traveling pants. They form sisterhoods and fit everybody's tastes. Trust me. Make them today.

Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from the Nestle Recipe)

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter, softened (I just nuke my butter in the microwave because I have no patience)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a larger bowl, beat together the butter, sugars, and vanilla extract until light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat well. Gradually add in the flour mixture and fold in the chocolate chips. Drop the cookie dough onto an ungreased baking sheet by rounded tablespoons. Tear the cookie dough tablespoons in half and plop one half on top of the other. This will help make fluffier cookies. Bake for 9-11 minutes and cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes after baking. Remove cookies from the baking sheet and place on a wire rack to cool completely or eat immediately! Enjoy!

Mix together the dry ingredients... 

Add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar/vanilla extract mixture...

Stir in your chocolate chips...

Tear your cookie dough tablespoons in half and place one half on top of the other!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Banana Snack Cake (Low-Fat!)

My fingers are sticky. They are sort of sticking to the keyboard as I type. All because of this annoyingly addictive banana snack cake. I love bananas. I love them covered in chocolate, spread with peanut butter, baked into breads and muffins, and churned into soft-serve ice cream. Oh, I also like them plain too.

This "cake" is wonderful. It is moist and caky, like a cake. Wait! Please don't roll your eyes at me like that. I am just a little bit slow on the adjective train today. So just trust me. It is caky like a cake. Also, it is not too sweet. Pretty much the perfect amount of sweetness. I might even add a little more sweetness with a frosting or glaze just because I like sweet. Plus I need the extra sugar (har har). Finally, this is one heckova healthy cake. So eat up.

Banana Snack Cake (ever so slightly adapted from this link)

1.5 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain low-fat or nonfat yogurt
3/4 cup mashed ripe banana
1/4 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
butter or cooking spray for greasing the pan

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9 inch cake pan. Combine all the dry ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl and whisk thoroughly. In a smaller bowl, mix together the yogurt, banana, applesauce, vanilla extract, and egg. Stir this yogurt mixture into the flour mixture just until combined and moist. Pour this batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes then flip out and let cool completely on a wire rack. Enjoy!

Mix your dry ingredients...

Mix your wet ingredients...

Pour it into the pan. It might be slightly spongy, but put it in the oven and...