09 May 2010

Everything and the Kitchen Sink Cookies

Sometimes, I just really need to cook. It's a craving.

And sometimes, there are no eggs in our apartment.

And when these two events coincide, bad things happen. Like these cookies. I just kept throwing things in until the dough tasted good. 

The end result? Banana-pecan-apricot-spiced-chocolate-chip-cookies. 

Kitchen Sink Cookies

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp nutmeg

Blend butter, sugars, bananas, and vanilla together. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients (except for chocolate chips, pecans, and apricots). Add dry ingredients incrementally to the wet mixture. Once blended, add the good stuff. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes.

Procrastination: Making a Bachelorette Party Cake

Helped to throw and attended my first bachelorette party for an engaged friend.

As if I didn't feel old enough with graduation coming up so soon.

I took it upon myself to create this (lovely? maybe?) cake for the bride-to-be. The reaction by most was "that's a cake?!"

Please oh please don't let me end up on CakeWrecks for this one.

Devil's food "bed," angel food "pillows," fruit roll-up "quilt", and Barbie and Ken.

Talk about a recipe for disaster.

05 May 2010

Getting my rear in gear!

Dear Friends and Family,

While getting ready to begin my graduate career in the biomedical sciences, I have thought a lot about how I ended up choosing research as my life's work.

Dr. V offered me the opportunity to work in one of his clinical research laboratories when I was only 17. That was my first introduction to laboratory work and to research protocols. It sparked my interest in cancer genetics, in which I will be starting to pursue my PhD this June.

Dr. V passed away a year ago from colorectal cancer. His passing was a great loss to all who knew him and to the scientific community at large.

In memory of Dr. V, who opened up the door to a career in research for me, I will be running my first 5K to raise both awareness and money for colorectal cancer research.

Please consider joining me in honoring this great man's memory by donating to Get Your Rear In Gear. Every penny makes a difference.

Thank you for your time and support!

Much love,


03 May 2010

Cinnamon-Sugar Challah

With graduation looming ever closer, I find my time slipping away from me more and more. I hit the brakes last Friday and decided to make myself a nice loaf of bread. There's nothing better to slow down and unwind with than some nice yeast dough and a few episodes of "Say Yes to the Dress" while it's rising.

This was also deemed the best loaf of challah I have ever made by my roommates. Further proof that cinnamon makes everything better.

Cinnamon-Sugar Challah

1 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
1 3/4 cup warm water
1 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp salt
1 cup oil
4 eggs plus 1 egg for egg glaze
6-8 cups flour

Mix together granulated sugar and warm water. Sprinkle in yeast, and allow to proof for 15 minutes.
Mix in 4 eggs, 1 cup oil, cinnamon, and brown sugar.
Add flour cup by cup until just slightly sticky.
Place dough ball in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise for at least 4 hours.
Once doubled in size, remove dough from bowl and knead lightly a few times.
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Separate into three balls, and slowly shape the balls into three ropes.
Braid the three strands, tucking the ends under.
Beat the last egg with a fork. Using a pastry brush, glaze the bread.
Bake for 45-60 minutes. The best test for doneness is a hollow sound when the bread is lightly tapped.

23 April 2010

Marbled Banana Bread

Confession: I hate the smell of bananas.

I think it has something to do with that awful organic chemistry lab two years ago. We synthesized artificial banana flavoring for weeks on end. My entire body and wardrobe smelled like banana Runts for the rest of the semester. True story.

Confession: I love the taste of bananas. 

Because of the Banana Oil Synthesis incident, however, I have been unable to tolerate bananas in any form other than in the perfect, unscented raw state. Until this evening, when I came home to find two bananas whose peels were black. 

So when life gives you pitch-black, over-ripened bananas... make this chocolate-y, cinnamon-y banana bread.

Marbled Banana Bread

2 bananas (preferably disgustingly ripe)
1 cup flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp milk
4 tbsp melted butter
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp nutmeg
2 generous tsp cinnamon (I used Ceylon cinnamon instead of Cassia, but the latter should be just fine)

Preheat oven to 350F. Melt the butter, and set aside to cool for a few minutes. Mash the banands into the butter, along with the sugar, milk, and egg. In a separate bowl, mix all other dry ingredients (except the cocoa) together. Add flour mixture a bit at a time. Place half of the dough/batter in another bowl. Add cocoa powder, and mix well. Place batters in a greased loaf pan, alternating between the two. Using a knife, swirl the batters together in the pan, taking care not to blend them into one. Bake for 50 minutes.

21 April 2010

Strawberry Lemonade Granita

Spring seems to be finally hitting the midwest. Squirrels are out, the frisbee team is practicing out on the quad...

And the ice cream stand is open.

Ice cream is my favorite food. Hands down.

Well, okay, that and chocolate chip pancakes. And strawberry lemonade. But other than that, ice cream is definitely my favorite.

Instead of immediately heeding the call of Dari Barn, I decided to try my hand at something as summery, if not healthier: granita. For those not in the know, granita is an Italian shaved ice treat, usually made by hand. I've had it a few times before, and loved it. It's the perfect light treat after an evening run. It does take a while to make, so be patient!

So, without further ado...

Strawberry Lemonade Granita

1 lb fresh strawberries, rinsed and sliced thin
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Continue to heat until berries lose shape and mixture becomes thick. Cool to room temperature. Transfer to a baking dish (the bigger the area, the faster it'll freeze!), and place in freezer. Remove every hour, scrape and fluff frozen mixture with a fork, and place back in freezer. Once at desired consistency (see photos above), dig in!

18 April 2010

Cookie Dough Brownies (for lack of a better name)

I read about these incredible brownie-chunk cookies on Bon Appetit, and started drooling. However, I am definitely more of a brownie-lover than a cookie-lover.

So I flipped it. Cookie dough baked into brownies.

Aww yeah. That's what I'm talking about. Now, I don't really have a name for these... my roommates came up with "brownnooks" and "cooknies"... Neither of which seems to fit.

Regardless, the consensus was this was the best thing I've made in a long time. Do yourself a favor: make these, and put them in your face.

Cookie Dough Brownies

For the cookie dough:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks, 1/2 pound) butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated [white] sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir into dry mixture. Add chocolate chips. Set aside.
For the brownie batter:

1 2/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup butter
2 tbsp espresso powder
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. In a double-boiler, melt cocoa powder and butter. In a separate bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients. Slowly add the cocoa-butter mixture and stir to combine. Stir in chunks of the cookie dough. Pour into a 13" x 9" cake pan, and bake for 50 minutes.

Pomegranate Triple-Chip Cookies

So, it's been a while... An unfortunate byproduct of impending graduation and the onslaught of end-of-semester projects and commitments.

Ergo, I have a huge backlog of treats to share with you.

I have, however, been stress-baking up a storm. So much so that I am now out of pomegranate molasses. But at least I had these, for a short while:

Three kinds of chocolate chips, extra brown sugar in the dough, with a swirl of pomegranate syrup folded in... 

Pomegranate Triple-Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks, 1/2 pound) butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated [white] sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tbsp pomegranate syrup for the dough
3 tbsp pomegranate syrup for the swirl
2 eggs
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325F. Cream together the butter and sugars. Mix in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla extract and 2 tbsp pomegranate syrup. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture. Stir in chocolate chips, and carefully fold in the 3 tbsp of pomegranate syrup so that you can see streaks of the molasses in the dough. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake for 12 minutes, until golden brown-- be sure that the molasses swirls hasn't burned.

Enjoy with a cold class of milk while watching (500) Days of Summer or an equally saccharine dramedy.

29 March 2010

The BEST Passover Brownies you will EVER eat. Promise.

So Passover is passing over. Part of the meringue-making earlier was so we would have something sweet to eat during our seder. However, upon tasting the meringues, I decided I needed more chocolate. Stat.

So I took a standard issue Passover brownie mix and got to work doctoring it with instant espresso, dark cocoa powder, chocolate chips... Added the same to the frosting, too. The product?

Topped them with the meringues too... probably overkill, but looks pretty!

This is Toto. She helped.

Aaaand now, tips for making your Passover brownies actually taste like brownies!

Passover Brownie Doctoring 101

  • Start off with a standard Passover brownie baking mix, preferably one that comes with frosting.
  • Follow the directions to make the batter. Add 1/3 cup dark cocoa powder (unsweetened), 1/3 cup chocolate chips, and 2 tsp espresso powder. Bake as directed.
  • Make frosting according to box.  Add an additional 3 tbsp boiling water, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar, and 1 tsp espresso powder. Pour over the cooled brownies, and pop in the freezer to set.
Have a delicious Pesach!

And now we interrupt for something entirely nerdy...

I forgot I had pictures of these guys... cupcakes I made for our LOST premiere party!

Just standard Dharma-issued devil's food and fudge frosting... and lots of black food coloring...

Pomegranate Meringues

Since I've been home on Spring Break, I've been on a meringue kick (partially induced by the fact that --GOODNESS!-- we have a stand mixer here!)

As most who are familiar with Chicago know, there is a huge, wonderful, thriving foodie scene here. And my neighborhood happens to be a hub-- we even have an olive oil store!

My favorite store in the neighborhood (well, second to Greer) is The Spice House. I love going in there, seeing all the different spice mixtures, sniffing the fresh extracts... complete heaven. And the salespeople couldn't be nicer. I always make a point of hitting it up when I come home, even if I'm only here for a day or two.

And, while browsing today, I met this tall, dark, handsome gentleman:

Then, I introduced him to my lovely meringue mixture...

They got along quite nicely, it seems.

And the result?

Pomegranate Meringues

2 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup fine sugar
4 tsp pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 250F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar to the eggs. Then, slowly add the sugar and beat until the mixture forms stiff peaks. Gently fold in the pomegranate molasses and cocoa powder. Place the batter/dough into a pastry bag or a ziploc bag with the top cut off. Pipe onto the parchment paper. Bake for approximately 1 1/2 hours. Once the cookies look dry and VERY lightly browned, remove and allow to cool. Allow cookies to sit out for a few hours to dry. Then dig in!

26 March 2010

Brownie Drops

One of the many great things about being home is being able to raid my mom's excellent cookbook collection. I found this gem today:

Okay, okay... so it's backwards... And Paula's in the background...

The point is, it's a first edition of Maida Heatter's "Book of Great Cookies!" And it's signed! And well loved!

And I LOVE the tips Maida gives us. For instance, Santa Fe Chocolate Wafers "are very fragile and not suitable for picnics."Aww, shucks, Maida, you shot that plan down in its infancy, didn't you?

I was curious about "Chocolate Street Cookies," which are really brownies in cookie form-- in fact, they're a great deal like a recipe that my friend Aki gave me. Why they're "street" cookies escapes me... all I know is, they're darn good! I altered them a bit to make them fudgier...

I call this new version "Allie has irrational fears of standardized tests (especially the MCATs) and drowns them in chocolate" cookies.

"Chocolate Street Cookies" 
(version 2.0)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
1/4 tsp salt
8 oz semisweet chocolate
2 tbsp cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 tbsp butter
2 eggs
3/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. Sift all dry ingredients together, except for the sugar. In a separate bowl, combine brown sugar, vanilla, and eggs until smooth. In yet a third bowl, melt the chocolate and butter together (I used a microwave for this). Once cooled, add chocolate mixture to egg mixture. Then add that mixture to dry ingredients. Spoon rounded tablespoons onto parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake 10 minutes, or until tops are crinkley, like brownies. Consume.

Chocolate Cookies on Foodista

25 March 2010

Chocolate-Orange Meringue Cookies

Wandering around a grocery store for an hour can give you ideas...

And make you extremely hungry.

During yesterday's prolonged excursion, I noticed a stack of those chocolate-orange balls. You know, the ones you smash open?

Aww yeah... let out your frustration and then eat it, too.

Then: what if you stuck it in-- gasp!-- a cookie?!

Thus these babies were born:

Chocolate-Orange Meringue Cookies

3 egg whites, brought to room temperature
3/4 cup powdered or finely granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp orange oil
Food coloring (red and yellow)
Dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 250F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using a stand mixer (or handmixer, if you have awesome arm-holding-up endurance), beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar to the eggs. Then, slowly add the sugar and beat until the mixture forms stiff peaks. Gently fold in the orange oil and some food coloring. Place the batter/dough into a pastry bag or a ziploc bag with the top cut off. Pipe dots, flowers, letters-- whatever makes you happy-- onto the parchment paper. Bake for approximately 1 1/2 hours. Once the cookies look dry and VERY lightly browned, remove and allow to cool. Melt chocolate in a pastry bag (careful not to burn the chocolate if using a microwave), and drizzle over the top of the cookies. Allow cookies to sit out for a few hours to dry. Then dig in!

16 March 2010

Cinnamon swirls in every bite!

I have never been a patient person, which explains why, every time I attempted to make cinnamon rolls from scratch, I would inevitably mess them up.

Last night, however, was different.

I had enough homework and MCAT studying to get done that I was able to allow the dough to rise and the caramel sauce to reduce in peace. And, as I found out this morning, waiting to let the glaze soak in overnight only makes them better. I don't know if these rolls were enough to make me a more patient person, but now I at least realize the sweet, sweet result of said virtue.

Here they are, unglazed:

And in all their glazed glory:


(A miniature adaptation)

  • Since, unlike Ree, I don't have an entire cattle ranch to feed (just six hungry girls in an apartment), I only made 1/4 of the recipe. Pretty sure I shouldn't have gotten this many rolls, but they're way cute-- about the size of the bottom of a drinking glass. I also did my own take on a glaze, since we were running low on milk and didn't have powdered sugar in the apartment.

For the rolls:
  • 1/2 pint Whole Milk
  • 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp  Active Dry Yeast
  • 2 cups (Plus 1/4 Cup Extra, Separated) All-purpose Flour (I used whole wheat-- made them a bit chewy)
  • 1/4 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Tablespoon (heaping) Salt
  • Melted Butter
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • Cinnamon

For the glaze:

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Heat the milk, sugar, and oil over medium heat (NOT TO BOILING!). Let cool a bit, then sprinkle yeast on top. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Stir in the majority of the flour, cover, and let sit in a warm place for an hour. Then add the last of the flour, the baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine. Roll out to 1/4". Spread melted butter over dough, sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top, and roll towards you to form a log. Slice log every inch or so, and place into greased dish. Bake at 350 for around 30 minutes.


Heat sugar and water over medium heat to make a simple syrup. Let boil until carmelized, stirring as neccesary to keep it from boiling over. After the syrup has reduced to half the original volume (about 30 minutes), add milk and vanilla, and repeat boiling and management for another half an hour. Pour over hot cinnamon rolls, and allow to cool a bit before biting in (unless you want a cinnamony burnt roof of your mouth). Even better if you let them sit overnight.

They didn't last long.

14 March 2010

Save a napkin. Lick your fingers.

One thing that I've learned is that, in the college dorm/apartment setting, stress baking instantly turns acquaintances into friends (and earns brownie points with those you already have!)

I have a lot of friends. And I'm pretty sure they just keep me around for the food.

I'm more than okay with that.

The other, more important thing that I learned is that baking >>> physics. Then someone pointed out to me that baking involves physics...

So I just totally studied for that quiz, then, right? 

(And they're made with whole wheat flour, so college students like myself can tell themselves they're eating healthfully... we'll just pretend the butter isn't there.)

Physics <<< Homemade Oreo Wafers

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
14 Tablespoons unsalted butter

Combine dry ingredients. Add softened butter, and mix well. You can be like Joy and cut them out all pretty like, or impatient like me and just squash them into circle-like forms. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

11 March 2010

Productive Procrastination

And my last midsems week of college is now upon me. Can't say I'll miss it. The only thing I ever enjoyed about this hellish week was the excuse to bake. A lot.

And eat it, too.

This week has been practice for the onslaught of exams. I tell myself that I'm studying chemistry whenever I add baking soda (sodium bicarbonate!), or that I'm reviewing torque when I turn on my handmixer. Practical applications, right? Right?

I'm still trying to justify baking as a means of studying my major, biology... no luck.

I have recently gotten hooked on Joy The Baker's blog-- the girl's definitely on my wavelength. I had been craving graham crackers when I stumbled upon her recipe for s'mores brownies. Her recipe, however, was much too cakelike for me-- I am a fudgy brownie girl through and through. So I played around with the recipe a bit, and came up with something of which I am extremely proud.

Death by S'mores Brownies

1 stick unsalted butter
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 graham crackers, crushed roughly
1 cup miniature marshmallows, plus extra for topping

Preheat oven to 350F. Melt butter, chocolate, and cocoa powder together in a double boiler over medium heat until blended. Beat eggs and sugar together until creamy. Slowly pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture while beating. Add vanilla, salt, and flour. Mix until well blended. Fold in graham crackers and marshmallows. Spoon into a greased 8"x 8" pan or into a muffin tin lined with cupcake wrappers, and top with more marshmallows. Bake for 20-30 minutes.

09 February 2010

Bitter Lemon Love Cupcakes

IronCupcake: Earth is back again! This month's challenge was to create a cupcake around the idea of passion. Being a cynic when it comes to the hazards of love, my creation is a bit sweet and a bit bitter:

Bitter Love Cupcakes

These cupcakes are appear simple, like puppy love, but grow in complexity with each bite. The cake is a dense, intensely sweet lemon poundcake, which gets a one-two punch from lemon-lime soda. It's studded with tart dried cherries and sweet dates, and drizzled with bitter dark chocolate to bring the sweetness back down to earth.

If you like what you see, PLEASE VOTE for my creation! Voting will begin no later than Sunday, February 28th at 8 p.m. at NO ONE PUTS CUPCAKE IN A CORNER,http://www.ironcupcakemilwaukee.com and will be open through Thursday, March 4th at 12 noon. Any and all support is greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Recipe follows below.

Our Generous IronCupcake:Earth Prize Providers this month are:

Bitter Love Lemon Cupcakes

3 sticks unsalted butter
3 cups granulated sugar
5 eggs
2 tbsp lemon extract
3 cups flour
3/4 cup 7-Up or Sprite
1 cup dried tart cherries, roughly chopped
1/2 cup dried dates, chopped fine
1 cup dark chocolate, chopped (~70% cacao)

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease  muffin tins well-- this is important if you want the cupcakes to come out in one piece! Cream the butter and sugar together well. Add each egg one at a time, blending well after each addition. Add lemon extract and mix. Slowly mix in flour, one cup at a time. Stir in the dried cherries and figs, and slowly add the soda. Spoon into muffin tins until 3/4 full. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until lightly browned on edges. Remove and allow to cool. 

Meanwhile, melt chocolate over a double boiler until it runs off in a ribbon off of the back of the spoon. Drizzle over the tops of the cooled cupcakes. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream for the ultimate indulgence.