Saturday, December 8, 2012

Peppermint Brownies

Recipe and picture from Mine did not turn out this pretty.

I love finding new recipes to try. I usually try to keep things relatively healthy, but every once in a while you have to indulge. These peppermint brownies are the PERFECT excuse for that! I wouldn't steer you wrong - I take chocolate-peppermint desserts VERY seriously.

We had friends over for dinner last weekend, so I searched Pinterest for a good peppermint brownie recipe. This one, from Annie's Eats, seemed to be the most popular. I gave it a try and the results were pretty amazing.

No, that's not a typo - three cups of sugar are required.

Yield: 1 9×13-inch pan (about 36 brownies)

8 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1½ cups unsalted butter
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1½ tsp. peppermint extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 (1.55 oz) milk chocolate bars, broken into segments***
1 bag Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses, wrappers removed and coarsely chopped
*** I actually messed this step up and totally forgot the chocolate bars. Trust me, they still turned out great.

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.

Combine the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water; heat, stirring occasionally, until completely melted and smooth.  Remove from the heat.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the chocolate mixture with the sugar and eggs until well blended.  Whisk in the peppermint and vanilla extracts and the salt.  Whisk in the flour just until incorporated.

Spread half of the brownie batter into the prepared pan.  Layer with the milk chocolate pieces (or just totally forget about this step like I did).  Spread the remaining batter evenly over the milk chocolate pieces.  Bake 30-35 minutes.

Remove the brownies from the oven but maintain the oven temperature.  Sprinkle the chopped Candy Cane Kisses over the top of the brownies and return the pan to the oven for 3 more minutes.  Transfer to a wire cooling rack and let cool to room temperature.  Chill the brownies until the candy topping has firmed up.  Slice and serve.

Taking more inspiration from Pinterest (at this point it's the source of 95% of my creativity), I decided I would cut the brownies into cute little Christmas trees with candy cane trunks. This is what they were supposed to look like:

And this is what they actually looked like:

Laugh if you must, they were still really good.
This recipe makes a lot of brownies, so you may want to consider taking the leftovers to work. Otherwise, you may end up eating them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner until they're gone. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pinspiration Fridays: Let's Just Put Glitter On Everything.

I LOVE the holidays. I know most people consider the holiday season to start at Thanksgiving, but since my birthday is about a week before that, I say November 15 is the logical start. The food, the excitement, the general merriment... it's all good. But one thing that always gets me really excited is the fact that from now until 2013, I have a legitimate excuse to cover myself and everything around me with as much sparkle as I deem appropriate.

Here are a few things I found on Pinterest that I could stare at for hours...

Buy me - I go with everything!

Christmas party? Date? Girl's night out? Why WOULDN'T you want to empty your purse and stuff the essentials into this adorbs clutch from J. Crew. I'm kind of obsessed and hoping it somehow ends up under the tree this year.

Kate is ready to look better than everyone else,  no matter where she's going.
Kate Middleton in a sparkly dress is always going to be a winning combination. Plus, HOW EXCITED IS EVERYONE ABOUT HER BABY?? I can't wait to see how she magically makes maternity clothes cute, picks an awesome baby name that a bunch of people are going to copy, and somehow maintains perfect hair through it all.

Dress by Elie Saab
This pin immediately caught my attention because of the incredible detail of the beading. It screams to be worn on New Year's Eve.

I would seriously wear this to the grocery store if it was in my possession.
Speaking of New Year's Eve... this dress would be perfect for a black-tie kind of affair.

Gorgeous, unexpected color combinations make me so happy. This is a great one.

What sparkly, lovely things will YOU be wearing this holiday season?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Paleo Banana Bread


This weekend I had two things on my agenda: decorate for Christmas and try this recipe for Paleo (and gluten-free) Banana Bread.

I love the idea of baking bread, but since I'm trying to eat Paleo most of the time I don't like to keep massive amounts of delicious smelling carbs in the house. I hate to classify the way I eat as "low carb" because that conjures up images of Atkin's dieters eating hot dogs wrapped in bacon. But when you stop keeping bread and sugary cereal in the kitchen, it's amazing how fast you lose weight. Then when I do really crave bread I'll splurge on really GOOD bread like this.

The recipe is from a British blog, so I'm reposting this without those crazy Brit's measuring units. 

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1.5 cups almond butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • handful chopped walnuts/raisins (optional)
  • coconut oil
  1. Pre-heat oven to 320 degrees.
  2. Grease bread tin with coconut oil
  3. Mash banana until completely smooth, mix with all other ingredients and stir in walnuts/raisins.
  4. Pour into bread tin.
  5. Bake for 35 mins.
  6. Let cool then transfer onto a cooling rack.
(Recipe from Primal Britain)

Once the banana bread was in the oven, it was time for Christmas music and decorating!
I want to leave this stuff up all year.
Meet my favorite new ornament, Fat Penguin with Glasses.

The bread tasted great, but it does have a slightly different consistency. Because I have a massive sweet tooth, I'm thinking I may chop up a dark chocolate bar and mix it in next time. 

Seriously, make this right now.