To say that I'm not a morning person is putting it mildly. I've accepted that fact and I'm actually okay with it. The problem is, that I live with an EXTREME morning person. Only my fellow non-morning followers will understand my frustration with the whistling, singing and general merriment that happens in my house before 7:00 AM. Uuuggg. The struggle is real. The fact that I don't drink coffee in the morning doesn't help my situation either. (I'm starting to see the connection now.)
It occurs to me that this resistance to mornings may actually be a genetic trait. I've got one child who thrives in the early morning hours and another who takes after her mom, and is, let's just say is less than gleeful in the morning.
I like breakfast food but because I prefer to sit quietly and eat my breakfast while sipping my hot tea and scrolling through email rather than cook breakfast at 7:00 am, I don't often eat a hot breakfast. Eggs, french toast, pancakes and oatmeal all sound like great ideas - if I could hold off until 10:00 to eat my breakfast. (Which we all know - is NOT going to happen.) My solution is to make my breakfast before I go to bed. Overnight oats are a game changer for anyone who doesn't love early morning cooking - or is just pressed for time in the morning.
There are literally thousands of recipes for overnight oats on the internet. Everything from tropical fruit oats, to carrot cake oats to strawberry cheesecake oats. My goal is to try as many as I possibly can.
Mason Jar Overnight Oats
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 Tablespoon flaxseed
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
pinch of salt
pinch of cinnamon
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon mini chocolate chips, almonds or coconut
Pour ingredients into a mason jar. Seal and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, warm oats in the microwave, stir in chocolate chips, almonds or coconut and enjoy.
You can make these gluten free by using gluten free oats. You can make them sugar free by swapping out the brown sugar for mashed banana. You can use milk alternatives like coconut, soy or almond milk in place of cows milk. You can also experiment with different sweeteners like maple syrup, honey or agave. I love that these are totally customizable.
Be sure and send me your fabulous flavor combinations. I want to try them all.
I'm feeling the love this week. Valentine's Day is less than a week away and I've spend the last couple of afternoons trying to get Valentine treats ready to put in the mail. With both kids away at school, I've tried to force myself to plan for holidays early to allow time for the care packages to be delivered. Somehow though, I always end up scrambling to get holiday treats together and packing them into boxes while they're still hot so I can get them to the post office.
Valentine's Day baking is in full swing in my house this week. Everything and anything that lands on my counter this week, will eventually get covered in chocolate and dusted with heart shaped sprinkles.
These chocolate frosted cookies are the perfect decadent treat for Valentine's Day. The chocolate frosting is so rich and decadent and is the perfect compliment to the crumbly shortbread cookie.
Chocolate Frosted Cookies
2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 Tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg white
1 1/2 Tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups milk chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Microwave chocolate chips, cream and salt until melted. Whisk cocoa, vanilla and sugar into chocolate.
Spoon 2 T. frosting on the flat side of each cookie. Let cookies to sit at room temperature for 3 hours to allow frosting to set.
Dressing these cookies up for Valentine's Day is easy. A few juicy red raspberries or some heart sprinkles can really transform these cookies into a Valentine's Day delight.
Just in case you were curious (Or you're one of my children who are expecting a care package) these cookies are NOT going to be in the Valentine boxes. I wasn't sure exactly how to pack these in the mail so kiddos - if you want to sample these cookies - you're going to have to come home. :)
I LOVE chocolate - let me just get that out there right off the bat. And in the world of me - there is no such thing as TOO MUCH chocolate. (I can't even imagine what too much chocolate would even look like.) Apparently though - not everyone in my household shares my chocolate addiction. I was recently told (by my very own child!) that my Chocolate Banana Bread was TOO chocolaty. Ummmm no. (Now I'm starting to question whether she's learned anything that I've taught her.)
This delectable bread is made with dutch process cocoa powder, has dark chocolate chips swirled into the batter and is topped with a spattering of semi sweet chocolate chips. Too much chocolate? I think not. Just the right amount of rich, dark chocolate in my humble opinion.
Chocolate Banana Bread
Bake 1 hour at 350.
Let cool in pan 15 minutes before removing.
Slice when cool.
A whole lot of chocolate goodness packed into one compact little loaf. One thin slice was all it took to give me my afternoon chocolate pick me up. Oh, and a slice of this chocolate banana bread with a cup of decaf coffee is just about the most perfect after dinner treat. I'm thinking this qualifies as a healthy dessert since it is made with bananas. LOL
There is something awesome that happens when I turn my kitchen into a cupcake test kitchen. Cupcake experimenting day is NEVER a bad day. Turns out - even cupcake fails taste pretty great even if they don't look very pretty.
When you bake as many cupcakes as I do every week, sometimes you need to change things up - just to keep your sanity.
I was really not dissatisfied with my previous chocolate cupcake recipe but I decided to see if I could make some improvements on it. I didn't make any MAJOR changes to my recipe - just little tweeks. I swapped some of the white sugar with brown sugar, replaced the coffee with buttermilk and packed them with even more chocolate.
The biggest problem that I had with this recipe is that it made 11 jumbo cupcakes. Since it took me a while to get the ratios right, I didn't want to mess it up by trying to adjust the batter to make an even dozen. (I'll leave that for another cupcake experimentation day.)
1 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
Bake 22 minutes at 350.
Cool on wire racks.
Frost with Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
I am in love with these new chocolate cupcakes. I can't accurately articulate how these are different from my previous chocolate cupcake recipe but trust me when I say that they are REALLY good. (Super scientific of me - I know.)
I hope that you will have a cupcake experimentation day of your own. Try several of my cupcake flavors and let me know which ones you like the best. Happy baking.
I put together a Hot Chocolate Bar this week to serve at of our Christmas parties. It was a a big hit and an easy way for our guests to customize and help themselves to their very own cup of piping hot chocolate. (Self serve drinks is the only way to go for busy dinner parties.)
I put together a carafe of warm milk, a jar of candy canes, a bowl of mini marshmallows, a can of whipped cream (not pictured), a couple of Christmas mugs and some Hot Chocolate Sticks and voila - an awesome Hot Chocolate Bar. I could have gotten really creative and put out some salted caramel or other interesting Hot Chocolate toppings but I was in a hurry - what can I say?
One batch of these fudgy Hot Chocolate Sticks makes 36 cups of cocoa so I had plenty to serve to everyone that stopped by our house for Christmas.
Store the leftovers in a Tupperware container in the refrigerator and pull them out for an instant Hot Chocolate fix. I guarantee that you will want to keep a batch of these near by all winter long.
Hot Chocolate Sticks
1/2 cup heavy cream
14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
18 oz (about 3 cups) chopped semi-sweet chocolate or chips
4 oz (about 3/4 cup) chopped unsweetened chocolate
Place chopped chocolate in bowl. Pour warm milk over chocolate to melt.
Stir to combine until shiny and thickened.
Spread into foil lined pan and refrigerate 3-4 hours.
Remove from pan, turn upside down and cut into squares.
Place a stick into the center of each square and you're ready to serve.
Set up your hot chocolate bar and let your guests go to town.
Merry Christmas Friends.
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