No-Bake Brownie Batter Bites

xIMG_8394
These brownie batter bites (I love a good alliteration) are like liking the spoon.  Dangerously so.  I won’t get into the gory details, but let’s just say that after a batch of them I felt compelled to return to the gym this week for the first time since before my spinal surgery.  In October.  8 months ago!  That’s 8 months of wasting $82 which have now come to an end.  So, really, these bites helped me to get back into shape.  I should make more of them.  Maybe I’ll feel so guilty at the end of my second batch that I’ll train for a marathon!

xIMG_8406

I know that they aren’t made from scratch, but that’s not the point.  They’re easy, quick, and don’t require an oven on hot summer days.  Taste-wise, they remind me of the chocolate chip cookie dough brownies that I made a couple of years ago (minus the cookie dough, obviously).  And I bought the 6-pack of Ghirardelli brownie mix at Costco, so I can see more experimenting taking place soon.  Look out, gym, here I come!

xIMG_8413

No-Bake Brownie Batter Bites

1 (18.3 ounces) bag of brownie mix (Ghirardelli is my favorite)
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips
1 instant chocolate pudding mix, dry

Put the butter in a large bowl and microwave until mostly melted (about a minute).  Add in the dry brownie mix and stir until completely combined.  It will be thick and sticky.

Set aside for a few minutes and then stir in the chocolate chips once it is cool enough that they won’t melt.

Roll into bite-sized balls and immediately roll the balls into the dry chocolate pudding mix. Shake off the excess.  Most of the pudding will be absorbed into the ball, so after I finished the batch I re-rolled them in the pudding a second time.  If they are too soft then chill them for a bit.  Enjoy!

You can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week (ha! as if they will last that long!).  The fridge will make them stiff, so if you do this let them sit out for a minute before eating.

Source: Chelsea’s Messy Apron

Also, look who I caught sneaking a treat!

xbrowniebites

 

Kid-Friendly Food: Chocolate Lollipops

zIMG_7773-640x640

It doesn’t get much easier than this.  You melt some chocolate, insert a stick, and then put your favorite candies on top.  But, to a kid, this process is the most.fun.ever.  Lily had an amazing time with this edible craft, and she was also so proud of herself when she shared them with my dad and grandmother.  Especially because she got to eat one each time she did, so she ended up with more than her fair share of candy that weekend.

zIMG_7771

If I were to offer one word of advice to parents, though, it is to watch the candy toppings closely if you leave the room to melt the chocolate.  Lily went crazy on the M&Ms and ate handfuls in the few minutes that I was in the kitchen.  Then, of course, she got the melted chocolate all over herself while decorating, but that’s half the fun.  By the time she was finished with the pops, I don’t think she even wanted to eat them because she was so sugared out!  (Fear not.  That feeling passed quickly.)

zPicMonkey Collage

With so many store-bought and impersonal Valentine’s Day gifts out there, this is a fun way to get kids excited about the holiday.  Obviously, family members appreciate these more than others because they are the creations of a little kid, but the imperfections are the cute part.  And a drizzle of chocolate at the end can cover up mostly anything that goes too awry.  The fun is in the craziness and it was a great way to spend an afternoon while I was trying to keep Lily occupied while Jake was working on the demo of our half-bath.  Considering Jake is just now moving on to rebuilding the bathroom, there will likely be many more lollipop and craft days in our near future!

zIMG_7757

Kid-Friendly Food: Chocolate Lollipops

Dark, milk, and/or white chocolate chips
Candy toppings, sprinkles, chopped nuts, dried fruit
Lollipop sticks

Melt the chocolate in a microwave in 30 second increments, stirring well between each.  White chocolate is especially fragile, so stir every 20 seconds.  On a parchment-lined sheet, put a thick 1″ round dollop of melted chocolate.  Twirl the lollipop stick in the middle of the chocolate so that the end is fully submerged.  Cover with any toppings you like, pressing lightly to make sure that the toppings stick.  They can be really sweet, so I also like to put some sea salt or a salty topping on top, but kids like all sugar all the time!

Let the pops sit for at least 30 minutes, or until completely set.

Inspired by: Ina Garten

Homemade Marshmallow Fluff

zIMG_7217

I was recently asked what recipe it was that made me really love cooking.  The honest answer isn’t some gourmet meal that takes hours to prepare and has ten thousand ingredients. It’s homemade marshmallows.  For one thing, they are 100x better than store bought.  It isn’t even a close comparison, and it made me realize that a little effort can yield amazing dividends.  If you haven’t had homemade, then get on it.  The other draw was the synergy of the recipe.  Egg whites, sugar, gelatin, and corn syrup combine to create this delicious, spongy, sweet dessert.  The end product is definitely greater than the combinations of its parts.  But, ironically enough, the one thing that made me love cooking is something that I can’t eat anymore (gelatin isn’t vegetarian).  Sob.  I’ve been missing marshmallows like, well, I can’t think of a good metaphor.  But a lot.

zIMG_7191

Then, several weeks ago, I realized that marshmallow fluff (a.k.a cream a.k.a. creme.  I don’t know what the correct name is) doesn’t have gelatin in it.  Woohoo!  The great taste of marshmallows right in my own kitchen again!  You can even take a torch to fluff if you want the taste of s’mores, though a campfire is obviously still off the table.  Which is fine, because I could live happily with my fluffernutter sandwiches.  You can take the girl out of Boston, but the classic New England lunchbox staple will be with me forever.

Poor Jake doesn’t really like marshmallows, so he’s just been surviving the last couple of weeks while I’ve gorged.  This stuff is perfect for topping ice cream, dipping graham crackers, pretzels, and apples in, and really just eating with a spoon.  Or your fingers.  I’m going to put up a recipe for a dip soon, so keep an eye out!

zIMG_7211

Homemade Marshmallow Fluff

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Stir together the sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt in a small saucepan over high heat. Stir until the ingredients are combined.  Bring to a boil and leave untouched until the mixture reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer.

Meanwhile, put the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Start whipping the egg whites to soft peaks. (You want to have the egg whites whipped and ready when the syrup is ready to be drizzled in. If they’re whipping faster than your syrup is coming to temperature, just stop the mixer until the syrup is ready.)

When the syrup reaches 240°, slowly drizzle about 2 tablespoons of syrup into the egg whites to warm them. Let it combine for several seconds.  (If you add too much syrup at once, the whites will scramble.) Slowly drizzle in the rest of the syrup. Increase the speed to medium high and whip until the marshmallow is stiff and glossy, about 7 minutes. Add in the vanilla and whip for 2 more minutes. Use immediately or refrigerate stored in an airtight container.

Source: Adapted very slightly from Shauna Sever

Pumpkin Pie Fudge

zxIMG_6822

 I got the great opportunity to post this pumpkin pie fudge over on Recipe Lion’s blog, Recipe Chatter!  This candy is absolutely delicious and autumnal.  Check out the post here: http://www.recipechatter.com/pumpkin-pie-fudge-recipe/

Here is the recipe for you to try out:

Pumpkin Pie Fudge

1.5 cups sugar
1.5 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup fat-free evaporated milk
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
2 Tbsp corn syrup
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
9 oz white chocolate chips
7 oz marshmallow fluff
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar, butter, milk, pumpkin, corn syrup, and pumpkin pie spice. Stir constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Continue cooking and stirring until a thermometer reads 235 degrees (soft-ball stage).  Don’t guess on this part; you should definitely use a candy thermometer!

Remove the pan from heat and add the white chocolate, marshmallow fluff, and vanilla and let it sit for about a minute and soften.  Then stir until it is all melted and blended. Pour the mixture into a 9×9 pan lined with parchment paper. Let stand until completely cool and set. Cut the fudge into 1-inch squares.

Source: Adapted slightly from Prevention RD

Caramel Apple Trail Mix

After-School-Snack-Mix

I’m so excited to share my caramel apple trail mix recipe on Make and Takes today!  I am always checking out Marie’s website for fun new ideas and recipes, so being able to do a guest post is such an honor.

Click here to view my post: http://www.makeandtakes.com/caramel-apple-trail-mix

And here’s the recipe that Jake couldn’t get enough of :)

Caramel Apple Trail Mix

Equal parts:

Apple Chips
Banana Chips
Caramel Bits (if your store doesn’t have them, you can chop up soft caramel candies)
Cashews
Chocolate Chips
Small Pretzels
Peanut Butter Chips

Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container.