lucky blondies

May 13, 2011
It's Friday.
Even more, it's Friday the thirteenth.
Fridays happen to be my favorite day of the week and thirteen happens to be my favorite number, so it's definitely a lucky day. Even luckier if you make someone these blondies! 

Cranberry Chocolate Chip Blondies
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar (I used golden brown)
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups chocolate chips (I used half white/ half milk chocolate)
1 cup cranberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a 9 X13 baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside. 
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip butter until fluffy. Add sugar and cream until smooth. Beat for about 5 minutes. 
  3. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until incorporated. 
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until smooth dough forms. 
  5. Fold in chocolate chips and cranberries by hand. Pour dough into middle of baking pan and smooth with a spatula. 
  6. Bake at 325 for about 30 minutes or until top is golden brown. 
  7. Remove and let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Using the parchment paper, life from the pan and let cool another 20 minutes on a baking rack. Cut into squares and serve!

25 by 25

I have a short-term life list to share. My birthday is exactly five months from today and I decided to compile a bucket-list of sorts of twenty-five things to do before I turn twenty-five.
  1. Make my own list of the 25 best things to eat. 
  2. Sleep under the stars.
  3. Go on a biking trip.
  4. Throw a themed-party!
  5. Grow something.
  6. Teach someone something new. 
  7. Learn something new.
  8. Make homemade donuts.
  9. Surprise someone with an unexpected gift. 
  10. Be a fearless biker-chick...or just ride a scooter. 
  11. Have a ladies' lunch at The Steeping Room with my sis. 
  12. Take a fun weekend trip.
  13. Take a day to do nothing but read. 
  14. Purchase something red (for my red-less wardrobe).
  15. Have a sleepover party with my niece.
  16. Go to a comedy show.
  17. Play a round of golf in a new place. 
  18. Go on a hike. 
  19. Organize and beautify a new kitchen. 
  20. Go to a baseball game with my daddy.
  21. Make some new friends (and keep the old!) 
  22. Bake challah.
  23. Go one day without speaking.
  24. Go out of my way to make grand loving gestures. 
  25. Move to a new city!
Let's go!


That's the vanilla creme way in the back.

And the sunflower seed butter in the very front

And the chunky peanut butter
And the extra chunky almond butter
As the weather gets warmer, treats should get cooler.  Banananibbles are a simple solution.   A little slicing, scooping, dipping, sprinkling and freezing and you'rer on the road to bananabliss!

3 bananas, peeled and sliced (1/2" thick)
1/2 cup milk chocolate
1/2 cup white chocolate

Optional toppings
vanilla creme (confectioners sugar + heavy cream + vanilla) & fleur de sel
almond butter & sliced almonds, coarsely chopped
sunflower seed butter & sunflower seeds
peanut butter & dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

  1. Place chopped bananas on  a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Freeze for at least an hour.  
  2. Spoon nut butter or vanilla creme over the tops of each slice.  Freeze again for another half hour.
  3. Melt chocolate over a double boiler.  Carefully dip or spoon chocolate over each banana.
  4. Add corresponding toppings to each chocolate covered banana slice.  Return to freezer or gobble right away!

fleur de sel caramels

Caramels (kar-mel)(kar-re-mel)(kare-a-mel)

However you say it, caramels are a yummy treat.  I've wanted to make them for a while but have resisted because they seemed too finicky with their temperature specifications which is intimidating.  But last night, armed with my new candy thermometer, I set out on a quest to conquer these sugary candies.  In the battle of high-heat-scary-candy-making vs. Jess, I came out ahead!  They turned out beautiful and perfectly chewy.  I was very careful to stop cooking at exactly 248 degrees.  As I learned in my pre-cooking research, the temperatures between 240 and 250 degrees is what's called the "soft ball" stage" which is ideal for soft, chewy caramels.  This stage means that when the caramel is dropped in a glass of cold water, it will form a ball that won't flatten when it's removed, but will certainly be malleable.

I'm glad these turned out so well.  I think they're so pretty and will make the perfect gift for a special occasion.

Fleur de Sel Caramels
adapted from Gourmet
1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
  1. Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, then lightly oil parchment.
  2. Bring cream, butter, and fleur de sel to a boil in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Boil sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
  4. Boil, without stirring but gently swirling pan, until mixture is a light golden caramel.
  5. Carefully stir in cream mixture (mixture will bubble up) and simmer, stirring frequently, until caramel registers 248°F on thermometer, 10 to 15 minutes. Pour into baking pan and cool 2 hours. Cut into 1-inch pieces, then wrap each piece in a 4-inch square of wax paper, twisting 2 ends to close.