Sweet Cornbread (aka the best cornbread you’ll ever eat)

I should start this post with two disclaimers:

One: This is not “southern style” savory cornbread. This is a recipe for  sweet, nearly dessert-like cornbread, that goes well with more sweetness (like a maple butter), chili, soups and even stuffed squash.

Two: If you like sweet, dessert-like breads, you will love this cornbread. You won’t be able to stop eating it. Good luck 🙂

The past few weeks have been perfect for some fall cooking. I’ve made a few chili recipes, soups, and a ton of squash. While these are each good recipes on their own – they are only made better by one thing – the perfect cornbread. So here you go – enjoy!

sweet cornbread - i crashed the web

Sweet Cornbread (The Best Cornbread Ever)

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray an 8-inch square pan with nonstick cooking spray, like Pam.
  2. Melt the butter in a microwave-safe large boil. Once melted, add sugar and eggs, well beaten. Add in buttermilk and continue to mix well.
  3. In a small bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Add to wet mixture. Stir in cornmeal and mix well. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until edges start to brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

*Note: I keep powdered buttermilk in the fridge almost all the time – it stays longer than liquid buttermilk and comes in handy for recipes like this. If using powdered buttermilk, follow instructions on the container.

sweet cornbread - i crashed the web

Waiting in the oven. yes I also made two small heart-shaped pans.

sweet cornbread - i crashed the web

All done!

San Francisco! (Part Two)

After spending a pretty full day exploring San Francisco, we still had a few more items on our to-do list – including meeting up with one of my best friends, Melgar! Melgar lives just south of downtown and was going to take the train in so that we could spend some time sightseeing with her, and then we would stay with her in her new apartment in Mountain View (she just moved to Cali from the East Coast a few months ago when her fiancé got a job at Apple).  Melgar and I have been friends for 16 years, which is truly weird to think of – AND I’m going to be in her wedding in a few months!!! Anyway, I digress. Our last day in the Bay Area included:

Exploring the Castro

Harvey Milk's Camera Shop

Harvey Milk’s Camera Shop

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Trying to watch a sailing race in America’s Cup

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Enjoying some awesome fish tacos (and an unlimited salsa bar!!) in the Mission

Nom nom shrimp tacos!

Nom nom shrimp tacos!

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

LOOK AT ALL THE SALSA!

LOOK AT ALL THE SALSA!

Spending the night at Melgar’s – we enjoyed a home-cooked meal (her fiancé is not only amazing because he works at Apple, but he apparently also is a great cook!)

Sorry, Jon, but Instagram doesn't do this meal justice. IT WAS AMAZING.

Sorry, Jon, but Instagram doesn’t do this meal justice. IT WAS AMAZING.

And then dessert at my new favorite place Cream! Why is it so awesome?, because it combines my two favorite desserts – ice cream AND fresh baked cookies!

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I enjoyed some awesome peanut butter ice cream, in between a chocolate chip cookie AND a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie. OH MY GOODNESS. It is a strong competitor to fro yo for my favorite.

Melgar and me before Cream! (I told you, no sweaty running pics!)

Melgar and me before Cream! (I told you, no sweaty running pics!)

No sweaty pics, but we also got to go on a short run with Melgar before we left for LA. Which was fun  – Melgar likes to sprint so she definitely pushed us on our 3 miler around Mountain View!

After a quick trip, we were on our way down the coast – to L.A.!

Some questions –

  • Have you ever been to San Fran? The Bay Area? What do you like about it? Not like about it? The weather is typically just so-so – as was said on an old episode of 30 Rock “Aww poor baby. Can’t hack it in the big city, gonna move to the Bay Area now and pretend that that was your dream the whole time? Have fun always carrying a light sweater.”  We lucked out – again – and had gorgeous warm weather most of the time in San Fran. The locals were commenting how it was seasonably warm, which I enjoyed, very much!
  • What’s your favorite dessert? Ice cream, cookies and candy. I love baking cake/cupcakes, but would prefer to eat cookies!
  • Do you have friends that live on opposite coasts? Yes. Sadly, it seems that quite a few of my friends moved out west after college (in Boston). But it makes for some great people to visit and vacations to plan!

More vacation recaps from our West Coast Adventure can be found here:

Weekend Update – the Carney Games!

My whole body is SORE. Not from a super hard weight lifting/pump/workout class – but from a run and softball game. That’s right – softball. I played a sport this weekend that required hand and eye coordination  – both of which I don’t have (which is why I run). And I’m paying for it now. Ouch!

This weekend, B’s family got together for their sorta-annual Carney Games! The Carney Games does not sadly, involve any cool carnival games – but it is a big family reunion/engagement party for his cousin/sporting competition/lots of eating and drinking. I admit, I was somewhat nervous. I’m not a softball player. I’m not an athletic person. Well unless you count being able to run athletic. But even that is debatable.  But it was actually a great weekend with some fun activities, great food and good company. Here are a few highlights:

Right before the weekend started, B and I snagged awesome seats (fourth row behind the dugout) to the Indians game. It was a gorgeous night – sadly the Indians didn’t do so well …

B and I enjoyed an Indians game. fourth row seats ... but caught a loss. But a gorgeous night!

Then Saturday morning our alarm went off at 6:15 a.m. (too early for a weekend in my opinion) so we’d have time to get in a training run before the Carney Games began. We had 7 on the schedule and ran it with B’s sister Mary throughout the beautiful University Circle and Cultural Gardens. Definitely nice change of pace and it was another beautiful morning – upper 60s, partly cloudy – perfect for a run!

7 miler

Then it was time to get on the road for the Carney Games and play some serious softball. I was nervous. What if we lost  — because of me? I was catcher, and actually sorta knew what I was doing! AND I ended up hitting the ball each time I was up. Pleasantly surprised!

Then it was time for some softball. I was catcher, and actually sorta knew what I was doing!

 B and me post-game. We have actually a super similar picture from the last time we played softball together! I’m surprised – I had a really good time. I didn’t suck terribly, and wasn’t in a high-pressure position, so that made me relax and actually enjoy the game. Plus, B loves softball so I know it meant  a lot to him that I actually played.

B and I have a very similar picture from the softball game two years ago. <3

Photo of the winning team. B’s family and extended family. I’m actually standing next to his cousin Michele who said she reads this blog! Hi Michele 🙂

The winning team! Yup. That's us. I think we won like 16-2?

The not-winning team. I think the final score was 16-2? See how serious it is – we all have matching shirts!

the not winners

After the games there was an impromptu pool party back at B’s uncle’s house. They live on a sorta farm – they have horses, lots of land, some plants and a pool. A great place to host a family celebration!

Isn’t Oliver the cutest? He didn’t play but looks adorable in that t-shirt (this picture is before he got in the pool). Oh and he’s holding up a #1 because our team won of course.

winning wiht oliver

See all that land in the background? Anyway, that’s the poor pig that was roasted to feed us. There was tons of awesome food – fresh pork, pasta salad, veggies, buffalo chicken dip, cake, cookies, and more.

pig roast

That is my plate of food. I’m sorry that i’m not sorry that I ate every single bite. Plus a cookie.

my embarrasing plate of food

The next day B played some more softball with one of his leagues and they won their first playoff game! Woohoo! He’s played in this league for years and this is the first time they’re past the first round in playoffs. Exciting, I know.

While B was at softball I decided to go for a short run to loosen my legs. I was super tight, and I’m not sure if the 2 miles helped. I then hit the gym for the elliptical and some weights. I typically just use the weight machines but since my quads were tired from squatting while catching, and right arm was super sore from throwing all the balls back to the pitcher, I decided to do something different. I downloaded the Nike training app and decided to try out an arm workout and core workout. It wasn’t bad – it was kinda hard but probably because my arms were already so sore. I can’t wait to try it out again after my body recovers.

Yes, I started the “Butt Buster” workout but some of it (aka the thrusting) felt a little strange doing it at the gym so maybe I’ll do the rest of the 15 min workout in the privacy of my own apt… or gym.

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After working out, B and I grabbed some coffee and started packing. That’s right – we’re moving in just a few weeks and finally started packing! Well … we put together half a box and got rid of two giant garbage bags of stuff – one to donate (I got rid of a ton of stuff – sweatshirts, coats, more).

We opted for sushi for dinner now that our favorite sushi place downtown is open 7 days a week!

SUSHI 86

SUSHI 86

And any weekend that ends with sushi and fro-yo is a good weekend in my opinion 🙂

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Hope you all had a great weekend! Some questions for you:

  • Does your family have a big family get-together or family reunion?
  • What’s your favorite fro yo topping? I chose mango balls, a gummy worm, cookie dough and my favorite – HEATH bar! 
  • What’s your sushi order? I got (not pictured) a rainbow roll plus a few pieces of just the fish  – mackerel and salmon roe. YUM! 
  • Any tips for packing/moving? No – that’s why I’m asking you!

Awesomeness – Peanut Butter, Nutella, Chocolate Pretzel Bars

A week ago, a coworker mentioned she had some extra Nutella laying around – she had bought some a while ago but didn’t seem to be using it. I immediately jumped at the chance to take it off her hands – and of course try a few recipes I’d been eyeing.

When I found myself with a completely unopened jar on my hands, I wasn’t sure what to make. B doesn’t really like Nutella – but if it were a recipe that had just a subtle hint of Nutella , among other flavors, that may do. I saw a recipe for a peanut butter pretzel bar – and it looked amazing. Seeing that, I thought – what could make that better? Nutella! And these bars were born.

Peanut butter, nutella, chocolate pretzel bars

I have two warnings for you if you try to make them:

1. They are addicting. They are SO good and taste amazing.

2. The pretzel crust and peanut butter didn’t hold too well together, so they didn’t look too nice. but since they tasted amazing, I didn’t really care. That’s why I’ve added the following note:

NOTE: I need to make this recipe again, with the proposed suggestions:

  • IF I decide to continue with a pretzel crust, I would recommend making sure the pretzels are finely ground to help them stay. The crust didn’t stay as well as I wanted
  • I think next time I would prefer to have the bottom layer be peanut butter, middle layers be chocolate and then Nutella and then sprinkle pretzels or heath bar on top

Peanut Butter, Nutella, Chocolate Pretzel Bars

Here’s what you need:

  • 3 cups crushed butter flavored pretzels
  • 1 cup melted butter plus 1 1/2 c butter, softened
  • 6 tbsp sugar
  • 1 box graham crackers, crumbled in a food processor
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/4 cup Nutella, divided into 1/4 cup and 1 cup

Here’w what you do:

  1. Crush the butter pretzels in the blender. Grind well, but not into a powder – it’s good with some texture. Mix the pretzels with 1 c. melted butter and 6 tbsp sugar. Set aside about 1/2 c. of the crushed pretzel mixture and spread the rest into a 9×13 well-greased pan. Bake for 12-15 min in 400 degree oven.
  2. While the pretzel crust is baking, mix together the rest of the butter, graham cracker crumbs, confectioners sugar, vanilla and peanut butter until blended and smooth. Pour the mixture over the pretzel crust when cool. Refrigerate for 1 hour, or until firm.
  3. In the microwave, melt the chocolate chips and 1/4 cup of Nutella, stirring until smooth. Be careful not to let the chips burn.
  4. Spread the chocolate Nutella mixture over the peanut butter layer, and refrigerate for another hour, until firm.
  5. Spread the additional 1 cup of Nutella over the chocolate layer, and refrigerate again. When the bars are firm, cut into squares.
  6. Enjoy!! I stored mine in the fridge to keep the pretzel crust crunchy.

nutella peanut butter chocolate bars

Chocolate, peanut butter, caramel oat bars

B was out of town for a few days, and of course, I got a craving for some baking. I had plans to visit my parents and bake when I was seeing them, but I knew that trying a new recipe, including one that involved something potentially messy like caramel and melted peanut butter, in my parents’ kitchen, may not be the best idea. But one in my kitchen – when B wasn’t home? Perfect!

OH em gee. These cookies are SO good. They’re super sweet, super sinful and super rich — you HAVE to make these. Good luck not eating the whole pan!

chocolate peanut butter oatmeal caramel cookie bars

Chocolate, peanut butter, caramel oat bars

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1.25 cup oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 12 oz caramel candy (I bought them from Target) 
  • 1/4 cup milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 2 c (about a 12 oz bag) chocolate chips
  • 1/4 c smooth peanut butter

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease (or use cooking spray) a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, sugar, baking soda and butter. Mix it well until the texture is crumbly.
  3. Divide batter in half. Press half into the bottom of the pan and bake this crust layer at 350 degrees for oven for 10 minutes.
  4. While batter is baking, prepare the caramel layer. In a medium saucepan, combine the caramel candy and milk over low heat. Stir well as the caramels melt and caramel is thick and smooth.
  5. When cooked, remove crust from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top. Don’t turn off the oven yet!
  6. Pour the melted caramel evenly over the chocolate and top with the remaining flour-oat crumbly batter.
  7. Warm up peanut butter in microwave. Drizzle peanut butter over flour-oat crumble.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
  9. Cool before cutting into bars. Enjoy!!!
crumbly batter

crumbly batter

heating the caramel with almond milk

heating the caramel with almond milk

cooking the caramel

cooking the caramel

Top the cooked crust with chocolate chips (then caramel and crumbly topping)

Top the cooked crust with chocolate chips (then caramel and crumbly topping)

drizzle melted peanut butter on top of the crumble

drizzle melted peanut butter on top of the crumble

cut into bars when cool

cut into bars when cool .. and enjoy!

Lemon Bars!

Once, in high school, I made lemon bars. And every year during the holidays since then, my Uncle Mike requests lemon bars as one of the many desserts we have. I haven’t taken him up on his request – mainly because I haven’t had time to find the recipe, search for a new recipe, and because I’m convinced nobody really likes lemon desserts.

Well, this year, I changed my mind. I mean, I LOVE lemon bars and lemon pound cake and many lemon desserts … so maybe other people do too? And while I was home for the holidays, I was browsing through a cookbook my mom had on hand, I happened to find an easy looking recipe my mom had marked – for lemon bars! I asked my mom what she thought and she encouraged me to try it. After all, Tate’s Bakeshop has some amazing chocolate chip cookies that my mom had replicated (we enjoy their cookies on Fire Island), and my uncle had been asking for lemon bars for quite a few years.

I’m glad I tried them out – they came out amazing! I’ll be definitely using this easy, and fast, recipe for years to come.

lemon bars
Luscious Lemon Bars
Here’s what you need:
For the crust/base:
  • 1 cup butter, softened (I used 1 stick salted, 1 stick unsalted)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
For the top/filling:
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • Grated zest from 1 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (According to the interwebs, you may need up to 4 lemons to make this … I luckily found a LARGE lemon and was able to obtain 1/2 c juice from just ONE!)
 Here’s what you do:
For the crust/base:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the butter, flour and sugar with your hands till the mixture is well blended. I actually used a hand mixer on low to get the butter and flower well mixed, then used my hands to evenly distribute all the ingredients.
  3. Place the mixture in a 9 x 13-inch pan. Pat the mixture evenly on the bottom of the pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

For the top/filling:

  1.  While the base is baking, beat the eggs.
  2. Add the sugar and lemon zest. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Add the flour and mix until everything is incorporated.
  4. When the base is done, remove the pan from the oven. Add the lemon juice to the sugar/lemon zest/flour mixture and mix well.
  5. Pour it over the warm base and bake the entire thing for 20 minutes.
  6. When cool, cut into squares or triangles (makes more bars). Sprinkle powdered sugar on top of finished bars just before serving.
  7. Enjoy some of the best lemon bars you’ve ever tasted!

labeled crust

labeled filling

labeled lemon bars

Football Brownie Sandwiches

Tomorrow B and I are having friends over to watch the Super Bowl. While we have the food and appetizers planned, I wasn’t sure what we were going to do for dessert. I thought about Football Brownies or Cheeseburger Cupcakes, but wanted to try something new.

Then, I came across this recipe for what the blogger called “Football Whoopie Pies” – while I don’t consider them actual whoopie pies, they still looked perfect for the big game. Below, the recipe, borrowed with minimal changes, from Created By Diane.

Football Brownie Sandwiches

Here’s what you need:

For the footballs:

  • 1 box of brownie mix
  • Ingredients required to make brownies (according to the box) minus the water, I ended up needing 2 eggs and ÂĽ c vegetable oil
  • Cookie icing (here’s what I used) to draw the laces

For the buttercream sandwich filling:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 tablespoons milk

Here’s what you do:

  • Mix together ingredients for brownie batter according to package, WITHOUT the water. If your brownie box has options for “fudgelike” brownies v. “cakelike” follow directions for “fudgelike.” Place brownie batter in a piping bag, and cut  a small slit at the end of the bag.
  • Create a football-shaped stencil, or use a cookie cutter. Draw the outline of footballs on parchment paper. Be sure to leave space between each football so that the footballs don’t run into one another – they will spread some when baking.
  • Line cookie sheets with the parchment paper.
  • Pipe the brownie mix to fill in the football shapes (see photo).
  • Bake brownies at 350 for 12-15 minutes. Since they are thin, watch to make sure they don’t burn – mine were done at exactly 12 minutes. Mine made 18 brownie footballs, or 9 sandwiches.
  • Cool completely before frosting!

  • While the brownies are baking and cooling, prepare the buttercream sandwich filling:
  • Beat butter until creamy.
  • Slowly add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time.
  • Add vanilla and milk and continue to mix until well mixed.
  • Once cooled, decorate half of the footballs. Use the cookie icing to draw laces on half the brownie footballs. These will be the top of the sandwiches.
  • Top the remaining footballs with 2 heaping tablespoons of the buttercream. Spread evenly and top with the laced sandwich half.
  • Enjoy!