Friday, May 29, 2009

Whole Wheat Strawberry Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

I bought some rhubarb at our local farmer's market last Saturday as I've seen many bloggers use it lately for some yummy looking treats.  I haven't really had rhubarb all that much in my life, but I had this hankering for that sweet-tart taste that takes me back to somewhere.  ??  I know at one of our houses growing up we had access to it freely (Fry Street?), but I don't think my mom made too many things with it.  Nevertheless, I wanted some, but I wanted to come up with something fairly healthy that would still be considered a treat.

I totally made this whole thing up and although cooked rhubarb doesn't make the prettiest dessert, I think it's pretty darn tasty.  Kevin had a piece, said it was okay, but since it's cake, it wasn't his favorite.    I even let Scott have some for breakfast this morning.  I'm even thinking I'll go have a little soon just to see if it is still just as good the next day!


See--not that pretty.  But it's taste that matters here, people, right! ;)  I was happy that it came right out of the pan and that it worked out since I used agave nectar.  I want to try it again, maybe pineapple this time, just to see how it all works with JUST agave and no other sugars.  I'll let you know!  The cake is nice and moist and I think it was perfectly sweet with the tart rhubarb and the crunchy pecans.

Whole Wheat Strawberry Rhubarb Upside Down Cake, by Me

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup agave nectar

½ cup pecans, toasted and chopped

1 cup strawberries, cut up into ½ inch size pieces

2 cups rhubarb, cut into ½ inch size pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round baking pan with butter or cooking spray. Melt the butter in a small, microwave-safe dish. Stir in brown sugar and agave. Pour into baking pan. Sprinkle the toasted, chopped pecans over the butter/sugar mixture. Then add the strawberries evenly over the top, then the rhubarb. Set aside.

1 ¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour (or whole wheat—or all purpose, but that defeats the purpose!)

¼ cup turbinado raw cane sugar (or granulated)

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup agave nectar

3 tablespoons canola oil

½ cup skim milk

approximately 3 tablespoons lightly beaten egg (or Egg Beaters), 1 egg is probably okay

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

In medium sized bowl, combine flour, cane sugar, salt and baking powder with wire whisk. Set aside. In another bowl, stir together agave nectar, oil, milk, egg and vanilla. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry and whisk together until there are no more lumps and it is well mixed.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove to cooling rack for 10-15 minutes, then invert the cake on to a serving plate and let cool to room temperature. Serve with whipped topping.


Isn't everything just a little bit better with Cool Whip?!!  I think so.  Try it sometime.  I'm sure you could use regular sugar in place of the agave and as I only used 3 tablespoons of a beaten egg, you could probably just use a whole egg. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

TWD--Chipster-Topped Brownies

Extremely decadent brownies topped with a layer of baked chocolate chip cookie dough.  These brownies are not for the faint of heart.   Our recipe this week for the Tuesday's With Dorie baking group was chosen by Beth of Supplicious.  Thank you for some chocolate here, Beth! ; )

I pretty much followed Dorie's recipe that you can get on Beth's blog.  I omitted the walnuts from the brownies, but only so more people could/would eat them.  (I LOVE WALNU"TS in brownies!)  Instead of bittersweet chocolate in the brownies, I used Hershey's Special Dark (which is bittersweet enough for me).  I feel like the 9x13 pan that I use is kind of a dark metal, so I always turn the heat down on the oven about 25 degrees.  I baked the cookie topped brownies for 45 minutes.  They were perfectly golden and passed the inserted knife test.  I cooled them completely, but while cutting them, I realized they were quite gooey in the center.   Not TOO gooey, but I wish they'd bake another five minutes or so.  I only tasted one bite of them while I was cutting them and we had company for dinner and after eating a huge, yummy dinner, I was/am too full to even have any of them.  I'm sure I'll take another bite of what is left of them tomorrow for another taste test!  But I did decide that I think I would like a good old brownie (with walnuts) in one hand and a delicious chocolate chip cookie in the other, rather than these big, thick, gooey brownies.  Weird?  I don't know, but maybe it is because I could easily eat a big ol' cookie and a nice size brownie, but these Chipsters are so over-the-top that I could only eat a very small piece and that's it.  Get it?  Good.  Either way, these ARE good and let's just not talk about ALL the butter, sugar, eggs and chocolate in both the brownie and cookie layer!

And now, for your viewing pleasure----








Brownie Goodness!


Check out all the  other gooey brownies madness at TWD Central by clicking on the list of bloggers.  I'm slipping in to a food induced coma and heading off to dreamland for now!  I mean seriously just look at that photo!  ; )

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Double Chocolate POM Brownies—POM Wonderful

Today, after receiving a nice case of POM Wonderful from the wonderful people AT POM Wonderful yesterday, I made some pretty dang, darn good brownies that I just have to share with you.  Thanks so much, POM!  We love the 100% pomegranate juice and what's more, we love all the health benefits this juice has.  I can't wait to use it in MORE recipes.  Stay tuned for that!

These brownies are perfectly fudgy and chocolaty and just might be my latest go-to "whip it up" brownie recipe.  I will be making these again.  I really liked the added POM syrup that I swirled in to the top of the unbaked brownies.  I really was a great flavor addition.  And though I forgot the second added amount of syrup after the brownies baked, these were still amazing.   Go get a bottle of POM Wonderful (in the refrigerator section of your grocery store, near the milk) and make these brownies.  You will not be disappointed.



Double Chocolate POM Brownies (adapted ever so slightly from POM Wonderful)

· clip_image002Juice from 2-3 large POM Wonderful
    Pomegranates to make 1/2 cup POM Syrup*
    or 1 cup POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate
    Juice   (I made the POM Syrup from the 100% Juice)

· clip_image0033 ounces unsweetened chocolate

· clip_image003[1]1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

· clip_image002[1]1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened  (I used unsalted butter) 

· clip_image002[2]1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

· clip_image002[3]3 large eggs

· clip_image002[4]1 tablespoon vanilla

· clip_image002[5]1 cup all-purpose flour

· clip_image002[6]3/4 cup chopped almonds or walnuts (optional) (I used walnuts) 

· clip_image002[7]Garnish (optional):

· clip_image002[8]1/4 cup arils from 1 large POM Wonderful
    Pomegranate  (I did not use these)

· clip_image002[9]Fresh whipped cream (I did not do this) 

· clip_image0041. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan.  (I lined the pan with non stick foil for super easy removal of the brownies.)

· clip_image004[1]2. Microwave unsweetened chocolate and butter on high for 1 1/2 -2 minutes until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate melts. Stir in sugar.

· clip_image004[2]3. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Add flour, chocolate chips and nuts. Stir well. Spread into prepared pan.

· clip_image004[3]4. Drizzle 1/4 cup of the POM Syrup* over batter; swirl with a table knife to create marble-like effect.

· clip_image004[4]5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until top is firm. Do not overbake. (I baked mine for 24 minutes.)

· clip_image004[5]6. Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Drizzle remaining 1/4 cup of the POM Syrup over brownies. (I actually  just realized I didn't even do this, but the brownies were amazing without it!) Transfer to a wire rack and cool for at least 1 hour.

· clip_image004[6]7. Prepare garnish - Score 1 fresh pomegranate and place in a bowl of water. Break open the pomegranate underwater to free the arils (seed sacs). The arils will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the membrane will float to the top. Sieve and put the arils in a separate bowl. Reserve 1/4 cup of the arils from fruit and set aside. (Refrigerate or freeze remaining arils for another use.) Whip cream.

· clip_image004[7]8. Garnish brownies with fresh arils and fresh whipped cream.

*To prepare POM Syrup, cut 2-3 POM Wonderful Pomegranates in half and juice using a citrus reamer or juicer to measure 1 cup, or use 1 cup of POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice. Combine juice and 3/4 cup of sugar in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes until reduced to 1/2 cup, stirring frequently. (Super simple and tasty!)



Today Parker was sick (throwing up once in the night and feeling queasy all day--but is fine now!), but because of this, Parker, Sam and I stayed home from church today.  We had some fun in the kitchen!

Have I ever mentioned that I love Scholastic Books?  Well, I do.  Every time the kids bring home those order forms, I can't help but order books, books, books.  I have always loved children's books and we have three bookcases full of them here at our house.   Here's one of Scholastic's latest offers that I snagged up on the last book order---


First, we made Candy Clay.  I have seen many homemade play dough/clay recipe and have made quite a few, but I hadn't realized you can make a totally edible one that actually tastes pretty good.  We made two flavors and colors.  Sam was chowing down on the stuff.  We halved the recipe and it still made plenty!  Here is the half recipe that we made.

Candy Clay, from The Ultimate Book of Kid Concoctions 2, adapted

2 cups powdered sugar

3 tablespoons light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt (the "candy" seemed just a tad salty, so I will use less next time)

3 tablespoons butter, softened

food coloring

flavor extracts (we didn't about 1/2 teaspoons per half the mixture)

Mix all ingredients together in  bowl of electric mixer.  It will form little crumbly- looking clumps.  If making more than one color/flavor, remove half the mixture and set aside.  Add coloring and flavor and mix well.  Gather the clumps up into a ball and it will immediately form into a ball of edible clay.


Parker made a snail and Sam, well, he pretty much just made a mess, but he had fun doing it!


I didn't photograph the clay very well, but the pink was cherry flavored and the yellow was banana.  It was slightly similar to Starburst candy, but not as chewy or hard.  We put a little powdered sugar down on the counter when they thought it was a bit too sticky.  And DO NOT, whatever you do, do not look at how extremely dirty that back door window is.  Hey, you looked, didn't you?  I said do NOT look.  Oh well. I'll be cleaning that tomorrow, but guess what, it won't stay clean for long!  ; )

Next we also made a Chocolate Clay, but I didn't read all the directions before learning that the clay needs to sit overnight to be workable.  So we've made it and will play with it tomorrow.  So easy and this one tastes even better--hello, it's chocolate! ; )

Chocolate Clay (we also halved the recipe from the book)--half recipe below

5 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips

3 tablespoons light corn syrup

Melt chocolate chips in 20-30 second intervals in a microwave safe dish, stirring after each interval.  When melted, stir in the corn syrup.  Spread the chocolate out 1/2 inch thick on a sheet of wax  paper.  Let the chocolate set overnight.  It will stiffen and become pliable.  (We made it this morning at about noon and by 6 o'clock tonight, it was plenty ready to play with.)

Also suggested using white chocolate and stirring in a few drops of food coloring before the corn syrup is added. 


Our final creation from the book was--super simple, fun and great for Parker's upset tummy--TOAST.  Painted toast!

Funny Face Toast

2 tablespoons milk

food coloring

Paintbrush (we also used cotton swabs, which I actually thought worked better!)

Slices of bread

Mix milk and food coloring (2-3 drops) together in a small dish.  Paint a face or design on the slice of bread.  Toast the bread.   Great for pb&j or BLT sandwiches or just some buttered toast.  This would be fun to use at holidays and decorate with hearts or a shamrock or pumpkin, etc.


The proud little artists--


"Hey, Sam, you're being awfully quiet out there on the deck, whatcha up to?" said Mom.


When we moved here four years ago, Scott was in 2nd grade.  Well, he just finished 5th grade, which just doesn't seem right.  While he was in 2nd grade, one of his best friend's was Matthew McDougall.  Matthew and his family moved the summer before 3rd grade even started.  Scott was pretty bummed, but the McDougall's still visit here once a year and always call so Scott and Matthew can get together.  Today Matthew was able to come spend most of the day here.  They had a great time together!


And just to be fair and give Taylor a little photo-op, here's his latest.  Well, actually he's been doing this for a good month or two.  He wears his shirts backwards, on purpose, even to school and I can't convince him otherwise.  Most of his shirts have a picture on the front, so the backwardedness (yep, made that one up) is always quite noticeable.  Kids definitely say and do the darndest things!


And finally, by nine o'clock tonight (since there is no school tomorrow and Matthew was still here), the kid's had been outside playing.  Then they had a popsicle.  Well, you can't tell from the pictures like I was hoping, but Sam's legs and feet were about as dirty as they have ever been, including melted popsicle drippings all down the back of his thigh and all over his face.  Needless to say, he had a bath before bed!


You simply cannot tell from the pictures, but once again, he's sure stinkin' cute!  (I'm not biased at all.)



Saturday, May 23, 2009

S'mores Chocolate Covered Brownie Balls

Look at what I did?


I know--I will NEVER compare to the amazing Bakerella with all her cake balls and cake pops--have you seen them?  Oh my gosh, the cutest things ever!  I especially love her holiday themed creations.  That gal has talent and PATIENCE that I will never have, but I was inspired to try something else somewhat similar because of the promptings of Taylor's preschool teacher who has recently gone ga-ga over cake balls (and she's made some pretty nice ones, too!).  Anyway, I've mentioned before  that my family doesn't really like cake, (and Kevin really hates frosting!), which are probably the main reasons I haven't ever tried making cake balls.

Something that all the kids and Kevin really like are BROWNIES!  So I made Brownies Balls.  Um, these are good!  And really, you can make homemade brownies, but I didn't.  I used a mix.  I made the family size one that fits in a 9x13 pan, but I ended up using only about a 9x9 square of of brownies.  So-9x9 brownies.  1 package of graham crackers, 2 tablespoons of butter and 5 ounces of marshmallows.  I baked the brownies-just until they were set.  None of the edges were crispy or well done.  I ground the graham crackers up in the food processor.  I melted the butter in a pan on the stove, along with the marshmallows.

While the graham cracker crumbs were in the food processor, I added the baked brownie all crumbled up and pulsed that together.  Then I added the very sticky melted marshmallow and pulsed that together--it clumped up and was very hard for the food processor, so I would suggest moving the brownies and grahams to a large bowl and mixing the marshmallow in with a wooden spoon.  I purposely didn't mix it in completely, so it would have streaks of marshmallow in it.


I then stuck them in the freezer.  Later, oh about an hour or so, I melted a 12 ounce bag of semi sweet chocolate chips (I would have used milk chocolate as that is used with the traditional S'mores, but I was out of milk chocolate).  I melted the chocolate in 20-30 second intervals in a microwave safe glass dish.  When it was melted, I stirred in about 1 tablespoon of shortening for glossiness.   Using a fork and spoon, I dipped each one in the melted chocolate and put them on waxed paper.  I sprinkled each one as I dipped them with colorful sprinkles.  (If you don't sprinkle them immediately, the chocolate will harden too quickly for them to stick.)

These were a big hit with all the people I shared them with.  I plan to try more versions with peanut butter added and possibly a mint version.  Maybe a little something hidden inside, like onions, pickles or spiders?!  Okay--KIDDING!  But I'll probably try Hershey's Kisses or some other delectable candy hidden inside.  You can try them on a stick, which is popular, but I haven't had great luck with things on sticks.

My whole point to doing this was to see if  the whole cake pop idea worked with brownies--and it does.  As a binder, I may just home make some frosting next time, too.  Not sure yet, but these are yummy.  Play around with your food, it's fun and kids can help!


The marshmallow wasn't really noticeable in looks, but you can taste it!


S'mores Chocolate Covered Brownie Balls, recipe by Katrina

1 box 9x13 brownies mix, made according to directions, cooled (you only need about 9x9 size of them, this way you'll have some leftover for snacking! ;)

1 package graham crackers, finely ground crumbs

5 ounces marshmallows

2 tablespoons butter

12 oz. chocolate chips

1 tablespoon shortening

candy sprinkles, for decoration

Make brownies according to package directions.  Cool completely.  Pulse graham crackers in a food processor until fine crumbs.  Crumble brownies into food processor and pulse together with graham cracker crumbs.  Melt together butter and marshmallows in pot on stove .  Put the brownie and graham cracker mixture into a large bowl.  Add the melted marshmallow and stir together with a wooden spoon. 

Make about 1 inch balls of mixture and set on a wax paper lined baking sheet.  Freeze for about an hour.  Melt chocolate chips in microwave safe dish in 20-30 second intervals.    When melted and smooth, add shortening.  Dip brownies balls completely into chocolate by setting one on a spoon.  Slide off the spoon with a fork onto waxed paper.  Sprinkle each immediately after dipping.  Let set.  For a quick set, set baking sheet in freezer or refrigerator.   Upon serving or giving these away, set each one into candy size liners.  Makes about 30.


Taylor's last day of preschool on Friday was a fun day of outside activities, parents and siblings were invited.  The weather was beautiful and perfect with no windy (it's always SO windy at his school that sits up on a hill!). 



Look out, he WILL squirt you!


It's even been warm enough for a little of this---


Last summer Sam did not appreciate the cold water of the pool.  Taylor's friend Joey came over to play and I told the boys it has to be 85 degrees or hotter to have a "water party" as Taylor calls it.  Well, I think it only got up to 84 this day, but I gave in anyway.  They had a blast!



Summertime, here we come!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Stonyfield Farms/Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt Makes for Yummy Recipes

Have you heard of Stonyfield Farms and/or had some of their wonderful organic products?  They have things ranging from kid's on-the-go yogurts to smoothies, milk and Greek yogurt.  I love that their products are all organic.  I recently received a wonderful package from them with a great (big) reusable shopping bag as well as some coupons to try their Oikos Greek Yogurt.  Thanks Stonyfield!  I have to say that while I don't really like eating plain yogurt (yes, I've tried adding fruit!), they have other flavors in the smaller size containers, like blueberry, vanilla and honey.  These are great tasting and most of all I love baking with them.  I have been using yogurt in place of butter and oil for a while now--mostly in muffins and quick breads.  I'm excited to try it in other recipes.  So far, it's great.  I should have kept better track of the things I've been making with the Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt, but here are just a few things. 
I week or so ago, I made these Pumpkin Pecan Pancakes when we had breakfast for dinner.  They were great.  I used the Oikos Greek Yogurt as this recipe called for plain yogurt.  I also replaced the sugar in these with agave nectar.  These pancakes were good, although the recipe does not call for any wonderful spices that go with pumpkin, like cinnamon and I did add some myself.  I did not take any pictures of these pancakes.  Does anyone else have a really hard time when they're making breakfast, getting everything done all at the same time?  I don't know what it is, but my timing stinks when I try to  make bacon, eggs, hash browns and pancakes.  Oh well.  The kids just wanted to eat, so I didn't take any pictures.  You'll have to picture a stack of yummy orange looking pancakes with butter and syrup dripping all down them yourself.  Better yet--make them!  And if you do, try Oikos Greek Yogurt.  I used plain, but vanilla or honey would be great, too.  And I'll bet the blueberry Greek yogurt makes some killer blueberry pancakes!
This Fresh Mango Bread that I recently posted for Tuesday's With Dorie and changed lots of things to make it a little bit healthier--I also used plain Oikos Greek Yogurt in place of some of the fat.  That was some GOOD quick mango bread!
THEN I recently made some really good Peanut Butter and Honey Banana Muffins--and of course I used the Oikos yogurt in it.  These muffins were de-licious!
Did I mention I also threw some mini chocolate chips in them?  Yep, that much better!  These muffins were pretty darn healthy.
Peanut Butter and Honey Banana Muffins (with chocolate chips), by Katrina
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup quick oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy protein powder (can be omitted--just bumping up the protein a bit)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
a good pinch of salt
1/4 cup natural peanut butter (I used Smuckers creamy)
2 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Oikos Organic Greek Honey Yogurt (it's fat free!)
2 small ripe bananas, mashed (about 3/4 cup)
1 large egg
1/4-1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (you decide)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray desired size muffin tin with cooking spray (I almost always make mini muffins!)  In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, protein powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Whisk together and set aside.  In another bowl, combine the peanut butter (if it's cold, microwave it for 20-30 seconds in a small bowl), honey, oil, yogurt, egg and mashed banana.  Combine well.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry and mix just to combine.  Stir in the chocolate chips, if using (and why would you not?)
With a small cookie scoop, fill each muffin tin.  Bake for 12-14 minutes.  Cool for 3 minutes in tin, then remove to wire rack and just see if you can wait until they are completely cool to eat one.  Makes 24.
I made half without the chocolate chips, but wish I'd have just pit them in all of them.
I forgot until looking at my pictures that I had a little too much to fill the 24 mini muffin tins, so I made four muffin top cookies.  Just as good!
Thanks for the great, organic Greek yogurt, Stonyfield Farms!  Check out their website on the link above.  I'm sure you'll see more from me that I've made using the yogurt.
Since we've been on the subject of breakfast, I made baked oatmeal last Sunday.  I hadn't made it before and had seen others and wanted to make my own.  Of course, I used one of my favorite things--BANANAS!
I have eaten this oatmeal for five days now (finished it today).  Scott had some on Sunday and liked it.  No one else here will eat oatmeal--crazies!  I thought the bananas baked in it would "go bad", but they didn't.  I loved this and really liked that each morning all I had to do was warm some up with a little milk.  Here's my baked oatmeal.
Banana Pecan Baked Oatmeal
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup 7 Grain hot cereal (optional--but I love it!  You could use any or just add another 1/4 cup oats, or flax meal, wheat germ, bran, whatever.)
1/4 cup agave nectar (or brown sugar, sugar, try honey)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1  1/2 cups fat free milk
2 small bananas, mashed
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4-1/2 cup pecans, chopped (or walnuts)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly spray an 8x8 inch pan with cooking spray.  In a medium sized bowl, combine oats, 7 Grain, salt, and baking powder.   In another bowl, combine agave, milk, egg, vanilla and mashed banana.   Combine the wet with the dry ingredients.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Add chopped pecans to the top and bake for another five minutes to toast them.
I stir mine together with some milk, but I love the "bite" it has to it as I don't like my oatmeal to be mush.  I even usually add about a tablespoon of Grape Nuts for that extra crunch to the top of my bowl of oats and I love fresh berries.
On a slightly funny note, Scott is in 5th grade, 5th--think back to when you were in 5th grade.  Do you remember the teachers taking the girls into one room and the boys into another to have "the talk"?  Scott had the privilege of getting that wonderful health lesson in school today.  Boy, they really save it for the end of the school year, there are only 3 days left!  What is funny to me is that they gave the kids a little small, sample size deodorant.  At first Scott didn't want to have anything to do with wearing deodorant.  Kevin talked with him about some of the things they discussed in class and "cleared up" anything he wondered about.  Then he encouraged him to try the deodorant.  We've really been trying to talk to him about better hygiene lately (not that he stinks, he doesn't, but it's about time he starts showering daily and such--my boy will be 11 next week!).  Kevin got Scott to put on some of the deodorant and it was cute and funny to me to then see him the rest of the evening tonight carrying the deodorant around like it was some great prize he'd won.  Parker was even mad and jealous that he didn't get that at school.  Soon enough, bro, you're only in 1st grade!  It's Old Spice and quite potent.  It would really be funny to smell his classroom tomorrow and realize how many of the boys are wearing their new deodorant!  (Scott would kill me if he knew I just put this on the blog--but someday in the far off distance, he'll look back and we'll all joke and laugh about it.) ; )