Raspberry Chocolate Souffles

 

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These delicious little souffles deflated faster than the camera could go “click!” by the time they were ready for their close up.  It was rather sad, but such is life.  Gotta take hold of the reigns before they fly past: life stops for no one and we always have to keep pressing forward. So press forward I did, and here we are with a delicious and surprisingly easy dessert!

Saturday night Chris went to the SMC/Gonzaga game at our alma mater (and also where we got married!) so I made these for the kids and I to enjoy as a consolation.  To be honest, we might have devoured these before dinner.  Oops! On another note, I made a couple of these without raspberries, and I must say they are not nearly as good without the raspberries! The great thing about souffle is that you can prepare the batter and pour  into the ramekins the day before, because it will keep in the fridge overnight.  This saves a lot of time, and breaks up the work quite nicely.

Don’t forget: if you’re going to put a cute, little powdered sugar heart or other design on top make sure your stencil and powdered sugar are ready to go as soon as they come out of the oven – the longer it takes for you to serve these babies the more likely they’ll deflate before they make it to the table!  A lesson learned for next time.  😉

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INGREDIENTS:

*recipe from William Sonoma’s book Home Baked Comfort

  • 7 tbsp granulated sugar, plus more for dusting the ramekins
  • 6 oz package of raspberries
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped.  I highly suggest using a high quality chocolate! It makes all the difference for this decadent, chocolate based dessert.
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 large eggs, separated plus 2 egg whites
  • pinch of salt – about a 1/4 tsp
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • confectioners’ sugar for dustin

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place rack in lower third of the oven and preheat to 375F.
  2. The recipe calls for six 1-cup ramekins, but I found the recipe made 8.  Hence, butter 8 ramekins and lightly dust each with granulated sugar.
  3. In a small bowl toss the raspberries with a tablespoon of the sugar and divide among the ramekins.
  4. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring as you go.  Don’t let the chocolate burn. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
  5. In your mixer, with the whip attachment, beat the egg yolks and 3 tablespoons of the sugar on medium speed until it’s thickened. Fold the chocolate mixture in.
  6. In a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar on medium-high speed.  When the egg whites are getting fluffy, add the remaining 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar and beat until you have thick, stiff egg white peaks.
  7. Fold the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture.  Divide the mixture evenly among the ramekins.
  8. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until they are set and puffed, about 18, but not more than 20 minutes.
  9. Dust with powdered sugar, and enjoy before they fall!

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cheers! and Happy Valentine’s Day ♥

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New Years in Argentina!

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I truly can’t believe it’s already February?!  We’re 1/12 of the way through the year, and I must say it’s been a really fun, adventurous, and exciting year so far. To kick off the new year we celebrated with friends in Patagonia.  Specifically, we stayed with family friends who have a fly fishing lodge in Esquel, Argentina.  It was one of the most beautiful places I’d been in years.

While we were there I kept thinking I was in the movie The Sound of Music, and found myself waiting for everyone to break out into song and dance: “a doe! a deer! a female deer, rain, a drop of golden sun…” while that never happened, I couldn’t stop playing the movie over and over in my head.  Maria, played by Julie Andrews, says in the movie: “the skies were so blue today, and everything was so green, I just had to be a part of it.” This is exactly what it felt like to be there.  Kids climbing trees, picking strawberries and raspberries and cherries right off the trees, running outside all day, riding bikes, swimming, I could go on…

We let the kids go kayaking in the river one afternoon, and I couldn’t help but remember that scene in the movie where the children and Maria are in their canoes heading back home and they all fall in the water while their Father watches –  although my kids never fell in I think these pictures give a glimpse of what I’m talking about! If you couldn’t already tell The Sound of Music is one of my all time favorite films.  😉

After we left our friends’ place, we continued to Villa La Angostura which is closer to Bariloche, also in Patagonia.  We stayed in a gorgeous home turned hotel that I didn’t want to leave, and that I now can’t wait to go back to one day! It was a truly incredible trip that I’m grateful we got to do as a family.

During this trip we didn’t have internet connection of any kind whatsoever for 3 or 4 days straight. I can’t explain how incredibly freeing it was to be forced to disconnect in that way.  We couldn’t check e-mail, there was no “let me Google that!” during dinner conversations…anything. Not even texting.  As a result, since coming home, I spend less time online, less time thinking about e-mail, social media, surfing the web to browse this and that. I find that it allows me to play more, have more fun, and be more present, for lack of a better word.  … things to think about, I suppose.

cheers! and happy belated New Year! 😉

M&M Holiday Cookies

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I used to make these all the time, I don’t know why it’s been a good year or so since I last made them.  It’s been a pretty busy holiday season: lots of holiday parties, birthday parties, a quick trip to Hawaii, upcoming holiday travel preparations, and other general life going-on’s, that I realized I needed an easy, reliable, and festive holiday cookie. Cue: The One and Only M&M Holiday Cookie!

I’ve had this recipe for so many years that I don’t even recall where I got it.  However, it’s a tried and true staple in my book, tested time and time again. I make them during Valentine’s Day with the pink, white, reddish colored M&M’s, on St. Patrick’s Day with green M&M’s, and even with your boring, everyday colored M&M’s when needed.  If you scoop the dough out in 1 tablespoon scoops, as I do, you end up with a solid 36 cookies. In our house, that means there’s plenty for us, and even more left over to share with the sweet neighbors who live in our little court with us. Merry Christmas!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups plus 2 tblsps all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 12 tblsps salted butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 white sugar
  • 1 egg and 1 egg yolk, room temperature
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 1 cup M&M’s, I used Christmas colors on these

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 and place rack on upper third of the oven.

  1. Mix the flour and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and all the sugars until they are thoroughly combined.
  3. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract. Stir until mixed together.
  4. Gradually add the flour and mix until a dough forms.  You may want to use your hands to bring it all together, because it tends be a little crumbly.
  5. Fold in the M&M’s.
  6. Scoop about a tablespoon of dough out at a time and roll into balls, place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  7. Bake for about 10 minutes.  I know to take them out when the edges are just barely beginning to turn brown.
  8. Let cool and enjoy!

IMG_5394Notes:

  • This a cookie that I personally prefer slightly undercooked, and that 10 minutes at 375 in the upper third of the oven does the trick!
  • Also, these cookies are so forgiving! You can melt the butter low and slow in a pan, in the microwave on high, in the microwave on low where you still have chunks of whole butter and it will come out the same, every time.

cheers!

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Happy Little Monster Treats

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It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I am a fan of rice krispie treats.  They’re so easy to make, cut into shapes, turn into all kinds of colors, and kids typically love them.  This particular rice krispie treat first came up on my Facebook feed late one night in September, and I knew I had to make them!

Little did I know, that in total, I would make close to 100 of these little happy monsters!  I’ve come to call them “Happy Little Monsters” because I find they put a smile on most people’s face 😉 We gave them to friends, family, and neighbors.  I made most of them for Jack’s pre school Halloween Party, and wrapped them in these cellophane bags with crinkle paper and a trick or treat tag.  They were pretty cute, and every now and then you could follow a trail of crinkle paper to the child who was eating his or her treat on the go.

It’s been quite fun making these festive treat throughout the month.  Spreading the colored spread, placing the eyeballs, even making the stamped “trick or treat” tags keeps me entertained as I sit next to Chris, while he watches whatever sports game is on tv that particular night after the kids have gone to bed.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 10oz bag of marshmallows
  • 6 cups of Rice Krispies
  • ChocoMaker Candy Wafers, choice of color
  • Candy eyes

INSTRUCTIONS

Rice Krispie Treats:

  1. In a pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.  Add milk, vanilla extract and marshmallows. Allow the marshmallows to melt over low heat.  Don’t let the marshmallows burn, keep your heat on low and stir often.
  2. While they melt, prepare a 9×13 inch baking dish with parchment paper along the bottom.
  3. Once the marshmallows are melted, remove from heat and mix in the rice krispies.
  4. Pour the marshmallow/rice krispie mix into the prepared baking dish and spread out in an even layer.
  5. Put them into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to cool and set.

Assembling Monsters:

  1. Cut the rice krispies into desired size.  I roughly cut mine into 2×4 or 2×3 inch pieces.
  2. Melt the ChocoMaker wafers in the microwave, use a silicon spatula to stir.  One treat at a time, use the spatula to help spread the colored chocomaker spread onto half of the rice krispie.
  3. Place on parchment paper and add candy eyes.
  4. Repeat until done!
  5. Put treats in cellophane bags, with crinkle cut paper.  Tie with trick or treat tags!

NOTES:

  • I made my trick or treat tags using a stamp, paper and glue.  So easy, and like I said, keeps me preoccupied next to Chris while he watches sports after the kids have gone to bed.

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cheers!

Cooking With Kids, and a Gift Idea

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Since around the time that Jack was 2, maybe earlier, I’ve always loved including my kids in the kitchen.  Whether I’m making a quick sandwich for lunch, rushing to get dinner made, or baking a two layer intricate cake for a birthday, it’s always more fun when little hands are involved. The best part is that both of my kids have always loved helping me in the kitchen.  Who am I kidding, they’ve always loved helping with anything I’m doing: “mama folding laundry?!”  “I got it!” they tell me. “Mama sweeping the floors?!” “I got it!” they tell me.  “Mama doing e-mails?!” “I got it!!” 😉  Perhaps that’s why I never feel like the laundry is completely washed and folded, the floors never thoroughly swept, e-mails left unattended.  However, in the kitchen it’s different.  In the kitchen, there’s always a final product.  It may not perfect, because the frosting may be too thick in the middle from not being spread evenly, dinner might be overly salted, or someone might find an eggshell in their omelette, but there’s always a final product.  Something we all made together in our team effort that we can enjoy together.

Last year, for Isabelle’s first birthday, her Aunt (who is also her Godmother) and Uncle gifted her a few pretty cute gifts, including this incredible Amazing Chef cooking set.  On this particular day, Jack really wanted to make something, but I wasn’t quite in the mood to cook so we opened up this gift, that I’m embarrassed to say had been sitting in the cabinet above the fridge for almost a year, and let the kids have fun! Jack especially loved using the knife to cut up the bananas and Isabelle loved dipping them in the chocolate and sprinkles.

If you ever don’t know what birthday present to get younger children, ages 2-8 or older, I can’t image that this cooking set will ever disappoint.  It’s so fun and gives the kids so much confidence in the kitchen!

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Cheers!

 

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PB Honey Toast, My Way

IMG_4541.JPGLately, I find myself so over “date night”.  Don’t get me wrong, I love an evening out with my husband and friends, but “date night” has so many connotations attached to it, both positive and negative. There’s the pressure to make reservations, get dressed, have dinner planned for the kids and the sitter, arrange a date and time that works for friends (if it’s a group)… And then, you risk the fact that your kids might still be awake when you get home later that evening!! At least, if your kids are anything like mine.  On the other hand, it feels so good to get dressed up, put on some heels, try a new restaurant, and catch up with your husband and friends over a bottle of wine and good food.

A couple of weeks ago, Chris and I were debating whether we should go out one night.  We wanted some kid-free time together, but we were also exhausted after a long week.  Has anyone else been there? Please tell me we’re not the only ones…

Jack happened to be with his grandparents watching his cousins’ soccer games, and Isabelle was home with us.  In an inspired moment, Chris had the brilliant beyond brilliant idea to ask our sweet H.S neighbor girl to come watch Isabelle so we could go out! During the day! Brilliant, no?! We’ve often gone out during the day, but always with an agenda or a list of errands to accomplish in X amount of time.  This time, we had NO agenda – just me and my hubs, and the best “day date”.  We even made it home in time to make dinner for the kids, and enjoy movie night with them! It was truly, an almost perfect day.

We ended up at Coffee Shop in Walnut Creek where Chris got the most phenomenal Peanut Butter + Honey Toast.  I haven’t quite been able to stop thinking about it, so this week I made my own homemade version, topped with a dusting of cinnamon. Simple, easy, filling, and nutritious! Thanks for the inspiration Coffee Shop!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • Toast, of choice.  I used Udi’s Whole Wheat Gluten Free Bread.
  • 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter, I always prefer smooth PB, and think it works best with this snack.
  • 2-3 teaspoons of Honey
  • Banana, sliced.
  • Cinnamon for dusting.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Toast bread.
  2. Spread a light amount of PB, about a tablespoon.
  3. Drizzle honey over the peanut butter, 2-3 teaspoons.
  4. Slice banana to cover the toast.
  5. Dust cinnamon on top!

Note: I especially love cinnamon for it’s ability to regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol, any many other benefits.  Raw, local honey is amazing for its ability to relieve some allergies, and anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.  In high school I would make myself a tea of hot water, honey, and cinnamon.  It was so good! Perhaps I’ll share the recipe one day…

I have had this for a light lunch numerous times this week, it’s that good and filling!

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cheers!

 

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My Go-To Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I’ve shared Displaced Housewife’s, Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Cookies before, here.  Today, I’m sharing her Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Like she says, they really are the best gluten free CCC’s ever.  You won’t need another gluten free cookie recipe after this one, trust me.  We’ve made these, over a handful of times now for all types of occasions and they never disappoint.  I plan to make them again this week for one of Jack’s preschool events.  In this world, with ever increasing food allergies and sensitivities it’s nice to have a reliable, delicious recipe that I know will satisfy both kids and adults who are gluten-free.

My favorite thing about these is that they have that slightly crunchy exterior and chewy chocolatey interior – which makes for the perfect cookie, in my opinion. 🙂

Also, don’t skimp on chilling the dough.  It makes all the difference between a “blah-whatever-it’s okay-cookie”, and a “wow, that’s a really good cookie!”  When I take the time to chill the dough my husband always says “these are really good” with those raised eyebrows, head bopping up and down happily.  However, when I don’t take the time to chill the dough, they’re a boring “eh” no excitement whatsoever…. so: chill yo’ dough!

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 stick, 4 ounces, unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed tight
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seed oil
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups gluten-free flour (I’ve always used cup4cup)
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Put the stick of unsalted butter in a small sauce pan and melt over medium-high heat. Once the butter is melted, continue to stir, and watch the butter as it starts to crackle and pop.  Little golden bits will settle into the bottom of the pan, and over the course of a couple of minutes stop crackling and popping.  This is the sign that your butter is done browning and you can turn the stove off, and remove the pan from heat. Transfer into a medium heat proof bowl and let cool.
  2. Add the sunflower seed oil, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla to the browned butter. Whisk together until entirely incorporated.
  3. In another medium bowl, whisk the gluten-free flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the brown butter mixture and mix together. Add the chocolate chips.
  5. Pick up all the cookie dough and put it on top of plastic saran wrap, and wrap it up! Put in the fridge for a couple of hours, or even overnight!
  6. To bake, heat the oven to 375.
  7. Roll little balls of dough, all roughly the same size, and place onto a baking sheet (lined with parchment paper). Bake for about 12 minutes.
  8. When done baking, cookies are slightly browned around the edges and tops, remove from oven and let cool completely!
  9. ENJOY!

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cheers!