Peanut Butter & Chocolate Lava Mug Cake

Lava Mug Cake

Sorry for not posting on Saturday everyone! I’ve been really busy lately, and not in a fun way. More in a “why is there suddenly so much stuff to clean” way. Plus, I waited until the last minute to make my Halloween costume, which meant all of my free time was spent creating a costume I had to explain to everyone I saw.

Aaaannyway, on top of all of the stuff I’ve had to do lately, I have developed quite a sweet tooth. It’s weird, because I will normally choose savory over sweet in a heartbeat. These past few weeks, though, I’ve been craving chocolate like nobody’s business. Last week, I needed chocolate chip cookies, to the point where I got home from work and immediately took the butter out of the fridge to soften.

Peanut Butter Lava Mug Cake

I don’t need a bunch of cookies all the time, though, sometimes I just want a super quick way to satisfy that craving with one serving, and mug cake is totally the answer. I’m not a huge cake fan, but lava cake always does the trick. It’s like a brownie with hot fudge poured over it. Add some peanut butter, and that sweet tooth won’t know what hit it. Here’s the recipe to make your own:

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Lava Mug Cake

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 TBSP Butter, Melted
  • 2 TBSP Water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 TBSP Cocoa Powder (I love the special dark for this)
  • 4 TBSP Sugar
  • 4 TBSP All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 TBSP Peanut Butter (I’d recommend creamy for this, but crunchy was all I had)

Steps

  1. You can melt the butter right in your mug, then add your water, vanilla and salt, whisk together.
  2. Add your cocoa powder and whisk until smooth
  3. Then, add your sugar one tablespoon at a time, whisking in between until smooth.
  4. Finally, add your flour, in the same way as your sugar, and whisk well. You should have something resembling cake batter at this time.
  5. Drop your peanut butter off a spoon right in the center of the batter, and press it down a little so the sides of the drop are covered by the batter.
  6. Microwave for 50-60 seconds, right around 55 seconds was perfect for my microwave, the peanut butter melts, the sides become a nice, moist cake, and there is still a little molten chocolate.
  7. Let it sit for a couple of minutes. Your lava cake will be lava hot right out of the microwave.
  8. I also recommend keeping a glass of milk nearby. You’ll need it.
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Son’Bitches Recipe

Son'Bitches Cookies

I recently finished the final season of How I Met Your Mother after it went on Netflix, and I think the thing that stood out most for me wasn’t much of the story, but the moment in the very first season when Lily starts to describe the mother’s homemade cookies. Peanut Butter, chocolate, caramel… I needed to make those son’bithes right away.

Son'Bitches Cookies

The basics of this recipe are very similar to my Brown Butter Monster Cookies but with a few tweaks here and there. It’s a peanut butter cookie base with dark chocolate chunks and ribbons of caramel. Add a little coarse salt on top if you’re feeling a little fancy. It won’t disappoint.

Ingredients

Son’Bitches Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Butter, softened
  • 2 Cups Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1 1/4 Cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 1/4 Cups White Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 1/2 TBSP Vanilla Extract
  • 2 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Coarse Salt plus extra for sprinkling
  • 2 Packages Chocolate Chunks
  • 1 cup caramel topping

Steps

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a very large mixing bowl, cream the peanut butter and brown butter until it’s fluffy and light in color.
  3. Add your 2 sugars and cream again until fully incorporated.
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until they’re fluffy
  5. Add your milk and vanilla and mix until incorporated.
  6. Slowly add your dry ingredients to the wet while mixing.
  7. Stir in your chocolate chunks.
  8. Drizzle your caramel topping over the dough and fold it in. It is very important that you mix as little as possible. You want caramel ribbons.
  9. Drop about 1 Tablespoon sized balls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Optional: Lightly press the tops of your cookie balls to create a flat surface and sprinkle a little salt over the top of the cookies before baking.
  10. Bake for 11-13 Minutes.
  11. Pull out of the oven and allow to cool.

Son'bitches Cookie Recipe

Enjoy those son’bitches!

Making Sushi and What I Learned for Next Time

2 Veggie Sushi RecipesTo me, the idea of making sushi was a little scary and very intriguing. I mean, people in Japan spend years learning how to perfect just the rice. I intended to make myself yummy sushi in an afternoon. I wasn’t looking for perfection, though, just a fun new dinner idea. It turns out that if you’re not aiming for perfection, making your own sushi is surprisingly easy. There was nothing perfect about my rolls. They’re rolled too loosely, the veggies slipped out of either end while I cut it, and I even undercooked the rice. But I had a lot of fun with the process and I was a little shocked with how much I liked the results.

I made 2 1/2 kinds of sushi. I can’t claim I made 3 types because I don’t consider adding one ingredient to another roll a whole new type of sushi. During my research, I read somewhere that you can put a layer of plastic wrap between the bamboo rolling mat and the nori (seaweed). You’ll see from my photos that I quickly gave that up. Lesson 1: Don’t do that, there’s a reason that traditional Japanese sushi making doesn’t include plastic wrap. It made rolling much more difficult as the plastic wrap would very stubbornly stick to the nori as I tried to roll it. I think this ended up being my worst roll.

Steamed Beet and Mango Sushi

Not the worst roll in flavor, though. One of our favorite restaurants in Portland is Sushi Mazi on Division. Our favorite roll is basically the one above, steamed beets and mango. It’s sweet and earthy and delicious. So simple, but so, so good.

Cucumber Avocado Cream Cheese Roll

This is a cucumber, avocado, and cream cheese roll. I really liked this one too. The cream cheese compliments really well with the rich flavor of the avocado and the crisp cucumber. Yum.

If you look closely at the pictures, you can see that this round has the rice spread a lot closer to the edges. I learned from cutting through my first roll that you want to get your inside ingredients as far over as possible so you still have lots of flavor in the end pieces.

Steamed Beet, Mango, and Mint Sushi Roll

For my last roll, I thought I’d try something new by adding some mint to the beet and mango roll. Mint tastes great with mango so I thought this would be really good. It was fine, but not my favorite, which leads me to my last lesson: simple is always better when making sushi. As long as you have great ingredients, you don’t need much to really have it stand out.

3 Sushi Rolls

Don’t be afraid to try making your own sushi! As long as you’re okay with not being as good as those guys who spend years studying and perfecting their craft, you’ll have lots of fun and a great new dinner idea!

Tested and Approved Pinterest Recipes

I might be one of the few people in the world that actually pins with a purpose. Now, I can’t say I’ve even tried 50% of the recipes I’ve pinned, but I have tried a lot. I have definitely had a couple of fails. There have been recipes that were just too difficult to recreate, and ones that just didn’t taste up to par. I’ve also had some that I loved. Here are a few of my favorite recipes that I’ve found on Pinterest. Some are easy, others are a little more difficult, but well worth the effort. I’m not a great cook, though, so if I can do it, pretty much anyone can.

Homemade Pretzel Bowls via A Beautiful MessThese pretzel bowls via A Beautiful Mess were surprisingly easy to make. I kind of loved to making these, and the end result was delicious. It’s perfect for an upcoming fall evening. They are very heavy, though so don’t make a heavy cream based soup to put in it. That was our biggest mistake. I ended up putting a broccoli and cheese soup inside, and it was way too much. Everything was delicious, we actually couldn’t stop eating, even though it actually started to hurt. The tomato soup shown in the picture will probably be your best bet.

Cadbury Creme Egg Brownies via The Merrythought

I made these cadbury creme egg brownies from The Merrythought for Easter and they were a huge hit. There are lots of layers involved, but everything comes together really easily. The faux cadbury creme is actually a great compliment to the dense chocolate brownie recipe too. They are extremely sweet, so make sure everyone you’re serving these to has a sweet tooth.

Confetti Rice Salad via Andrea Meyers

Andrea Meyer’s confetti rice salad recipe is a favorite for vacations and camping in my household. It is best served cold and is packed with tons of protien and veggies. It’s also a great way to use up excess veggies around your house because it pretty much goes with anything. It’s a great go-to for a summer meal, too because the only thing you have to cook is the rice.

Buffalo Cauliflower via Persnikety Plates

The buffalo cauliflower from Persnickety Plates is probably Bennett’s favorite Pinterest recipe. Buffalo chicken is the one thing he misses most since he became a vegetarian, so when I told him I found a recipe made from veggies, he was all over it. I’m not a huge fan of buffalo flavoring, but I will say that this stuff with some ranch dressing makes for a really good snack that can fill you up without it being too heavy.

Simple Yellow Curry via A Beautiful Mess

I made this yellow curry from A Beautiful Mess the other day and am still reeling from how easy it was to make. It’s one of my favorite Thai dishes, so I was really excited to find out that I could make it for a fraction of the cost of ordering it, and it tastes just as good! It seriously took me less time to make this than it did for the rice to cook, it was that easy. It did end up a little thinner than I like, so I think when I make this again, I’ll add a little less water.

Black Bottom Coconut Squares via View from Great Island

I made these black bottom coconut squares from View from Great Island for Lacey’s going away party and really liked them. I think Bennett was the biggest fan, they barely lasted another day in my house. The brownie bottom wasn’t too sweet for the rest of the cake, and the coconut toasted perfectly. The cake on top was really moist, too.

I’ve had many more successes than I have had failures from Pinterest recipes. Always make sure to check out the links and read the preparation steps before you decide to make any of your recipes. Some things can be way overly complicated for the end result, and other things will surprise you with how easy they are. Definitely try out anything that looks good and don’t be afraid to tweak and experiment!

Brown Butter Monster Cookies

Brown Butter Monster Cookies

In all honesty, I wasn’t quite sure what a monster cookie was until Bennett demanded I make them. I’m still a little convinced that he doesn’t really know what is in monster cookies because I could not find any recipes that had all of the ingredients he wanted. So I had to make my own. And because I like to experiment, I decided to try out brown butter in this recipe.

Brown Butter Monster Cookies

Browning the butter is definitely not necessary, you can just substitute it for softened butter and you’ll end up with fluffier cookies that spread out a lot more than mine did. I personally think that the nuttiness of the brown butter brings out the flavor of the peanut butter and makes everything taste a little richer. But I could just be saying that to justify standing over the stove watching butter change color while trying to see the TV around the beam that separates my kitchen from my living room. You can decide.

Brown Butter Monster Cookies

Brown Butter Monster Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Brown Butter, cooled to room temp (The best tips I’ve ever found on browning butter come from this article.)
  • 2 Cups Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1 1/2 Cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 Cup White Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Honey
  • 2 TBSP Milk
  • 1 1/2 TBSP Vanilla Extract
  • 2 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Coarse Salt
  • 1 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1 Package Chocolate Chunks
  • 1 Package Plain M&Ms

Steps

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a very large mixing bowl, cream the peanut butter and brown butter until it’s fluffy and light in color.
  3. Add your 2 sugars and cream again until fully incorporated.
  4. Add the eggs and honey and mix until smooth and fluffy.
  5. Add your milk and vanilla and mix until incorporated.
  6. Add all of your dry ingredients at once and mix for about 15 seconds, so it’s combined, but not completely.
  7. Add your oats, chocolate chunks, and M&Ms and mix until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated. It’s important that you don’t over mix or the cookies will get tough.
  8. Drop about 1 Tablespoon sized balls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  9. Bake for 11-13 Minutes.
  10. Pull out of the oven and allow to cool.
  11. Serve with a glass of milk, these cookies demand milk!

Brown Butter Monster Cookie Recipe

I’m not a fan of eating raw cookie dough that has raw oats in it, but I have been informed that the dough for these cookies is “like crack” so try to control yourself so you can enjoy the finished product, it’s worth it!

Creamy Hazelnut Pesto

Creamy Hazelnut Pesto

After making my own pasta, I decided to just make an entire dinner from scratch. A couple of weeks ago, I went out to dinner with some friends to this new place downtown called Grassa. Most authentic Italian food in Portland, I guarantee it. I had this amazing hazelnut pesto dish that I pretty much ate until I hated myself. So, I decided to try to make my own recipe. I guess so I could hate myself in the comfort of my own home.

Creamy Hazlenut Pesto

Pesto is extremely  easy to make as long as you have the right tools. The ingredients go together in a food processor and you pulse until it’s the right consistency. It’s a great way to use up excess basil because you can freeze the sauce until you’re ready to use it, or give it away as a gift. Homemade pesto is so delicious you’ll never go back to store bought again.

Creamy Hazelnut Pesto

Creamy Hazelnut Pesto 

(adapted from this recipe from the Food Network Kitchens)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
  • 3 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 3 Tbsp roasted and chopped hazelnuts
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

Ingredients

Steps

  1. Add basil, 1/4 cup olive oil, heavy cream, hazelnuts, garlic, and 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese to a food processor. Pulse until you have a smooth and creamy sauce.
  2. You want to add the rest of the olive oil and cheese at the very end. If you don’t plan on eating the sauce right away, put it into a container and freeze or refrigerate as is.
  3. When you’re ready to eat, heat up the sauce in a sauce pan with the noodles and the rest of the olive oil and cheese. Toss the pasta around to make sure that it’s all evenly coated. Serve with a little more cheese sprinkled on top and a basil garnish.

Creamy Hazelnut Pesto

Unbelievably easy, right?

What it’s Like to Make Your Own Pasta

Making Your Own Pasta

 

Answer: It’s a lot easier than everyone leads you to believe. And it was really fun. I’ve wanted to make my own pasta for a while now, but was really intimidated. I don’t have a pasta maker, and didn’t intend to get one, especially for my first time ever making pasta. Turns out, you don’t really need it unless you’re looking for perfection.

Pasta IngredientsYou see what’s in that bowl? That’s everything you need to make pasta. Flour, eggs, and a little bit of salt. Now, go grab the nearest boxed pasta and read the ingredients. I only recognized wheat flour. I think it’s obvious which I would rather have.

I found that the ingredient amounts are almost impossible to mess up. It’s really just dependent on how many eggs you use. You want to start with 2/3 cup of flour for every egg and 1/4 teaspoon salt for every egg. But, what’s really awesome is that you just mix the flour into the egg until it reaches the right consistency. There’s nothing exact about it.

Basically, all you do from here is start “scrambling” the egg with a fork, slowly adding the flour in as you go until you get a doughy consistency. It’ll still be kind of wet, but you can add the flour later. Then, just dump your bowl onto a clean countertop or cutting board so all of the extra flour can prevent it from sticking.

Knead the dough for a few minutes. If you cut into it, you’ll see bubbles. You want to keep kneading until most of those are gone. It took me maybe 5 – 10 minutes.

Place the dough back into your bowl and let it rest for a half an hour. 

When it’s ready, start rolling it out as thin as possible. Use the flour to prevent it from sticking. You also want to continuously move and work the dough so it doesn’t dry out. This is a lot easier than it sounds, you’re moving the dough while rolling anyway.

pasta

Once it’s thin enough, give the top of your dough a light dusting of flour and roll it into a loose spiral. Then, take the sharpest knife you have and make even cuts along the roll. It’s really important at this point that you don’t press the knife into the dough, let the sharpness of the blade cut your pasta instead of the pressure.

Homemade Pasta

Once you’ve made your cuts, unroll each piece and shake off the excess flour. Your pasta is ready to cook now, or you can dry it out and save it for later!

The one thing I learned from my first attempt is that it’s really important to use a shallow bowl when doing this. My deeper bowl made it difficult to get to the egg without accidentally dumping flour on it. This one little thing was all that kept my first attempt from being totally perfect, and it really wasn’t a big deal.

I used this really in depth post from The Kitchn to learn how to make my pasta. It’s got tips for people with pasta machines and without, how to make it in a food processor, and tips for drying.

 

Grapefruit Lavender Sorbet

Grapefruit and Lavender Sorbet

Okay Lacey, I know you’re “allergic” to lavender, but I just had to try out this combination. Its a very small amount of lavender and since you’ve never eaten it, it might be worth a shot. Because it turned out really good. I have a feeling I’ll be making a lot more sorbet this summer. Making the sorbet is really easy. And it only takes a few ingredients to do it. It’s really just the waiting around for your sorbet to freeze.

Grapefruit Sorbet

This recipe is super refreshing and perfect for a hot summer day. It’s not too sweet and finishes with the wonderful lavender flavor. It’s great as a nice light dessert after a heavy meal, or a little treat to help cool down on a hot day.

Lavender

Honestly, this recipe is all about the lavender simple syrup. I’ve been really interested in trying to use some floral ingredients in my recipes, coming up with unexpected flavors and using ingredients outside the norm. I made a bunch of extra syrup to try out in other ways. I’m thinking it will be perfect for sweetening teas and coffee. I’m even thinking about adding some to soda water (I’ll let you know how that goes).

Grapefruit Lavender Sorbet

The flavor of the grapefruit goes really well with the lavender. It’s not too overpowering, and really lets both flavors stand out. I can’t really stress how much I loved this final result. If I hadn’t promised Alyssa she could have some, I might have eaten the whole batch myself.

So now that I’m done with my rambling, here’s the recipe…

Grapefruit Lavender Sorbet

Ingredients
  • Juice from 2 ruby grapefruits (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • Juice from 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 Tbsp lavender
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water

(this recipe can be adjusted based on your taste preferences. I liked mine a little tart, if you like yours sweeter, make a little more simple syrup)

Steps

Start making your simple syrup. Heat up your water, sugar, and lavender over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Stir constantly to prevent sticking, and keep on heat just until bubbles start to form at the bottom, but it hasn’t started boiling. Set aside for about an hour to cool down and let the lavender steep. You can let it steep longer or shorter, depending on your taste preferences.

Meanwhile, juice your grapefruits and lemon into a medium bowl. It’s good to have a little pulp in the mix. This helps give the sorbet a fluffier texture and helps to keep it from freezing solid.

Pour the syrup through a mesh strainer into the bowl. Mix your juices and syrup together and pour into a shallow dish, you want the mixture to only be about 1/2 inch deep.

Put your mixture in the freezer for about 1/2 hour, then take it out and stir. Repeat this step until your mixture is pretty solid with tiny ice crystals formed.

Scoop a small amount into an ice cream dish and enjoy as a cool sweet treat!

Grapefruit and Lavender Sorbet

Note
  • Because there are no stabilizers in this dish, it does need to be constantly stirred in order to keep its texture. If you leave it in the freezer, it will freeze solid. If you want to save some for later, let it melt in the refrigerator. You’ll have to go through the freezing steps again to get the texture back, so plan ahead for when you want it.