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White Chocolate Brownies

I think that white chocolate gets a bad rap.

Honestly there was once a time when I would never have touched the stuff. I love dark chocolate. And lots of it. But alas, I had to give up chocolate because it gave me migraines. Sometimes I think there is a conspiracy against those who don’t eat chocolate. All of you bloggers who create mouth-watering recipes made with chocolate leave me drooling from envy.

Since giving up chocolate, I don’t miss it . . . that much. But I do miss brownies. Rich, moist, fudgy brownies. I thought I would never be able to eat them again. But I don’t give up easily. I have realized how sweet and decadent white chocolate can be. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to make a white chocolate brownie before.

I never did find a decent recipe for white chocolate brownies that I liked on the web. So I created my own version and I was more than a little nervous about how they would come out.

I shouldn’t have worried. These brownies are moist, flavorful, and so very gooey. And they are bursting with white chocolate flavor. They are so good that I almost forget how much I love dark chocolate. Almost.

White Chocolate Brownies (makes 9-12 brownies, depending on the size)

1/2 c. flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. applesauce
2/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 egg whites
3 oz. white baking chocolate melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix applesauce and sugar until well blended. Add egg whites and vanilla; stir just until blended. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Stir dry ingredients in sugar mixture. Stir in melted chocolate. Pour into greased 9 x 9 inch pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until sides just start to pull away from pan. Be careful not to overcook. Cool completely before cutting.

Chocolatey Peanutty Goodness

The past couple of days have been kind of boring food-wise. Eggs and toast, tomato soup, grilled cheese, pizza . . . and more than a few white chocolate Reese’s peanut butter eggs. Thank goodness those are gone. I had way too much chocolate this weekend.

Yesterday I ate breakfast kid of late because I wasn’t feeling well. The only thing I felt like was eggs and toast so my husband offered to make me some. And he got very creative with the eggs.

2 fried eggs in the shape of a heart! How cute is that? It did make me feel a lot better.

Other than that meal, the highlight of my weekend was probably making homemade peanut butter. Homemade white chocolate peanut butter at that. A couple of weeks ago, we bought a huge container of peanuts from Sam’s.

52 ounces of peanutty goodness. FYI: I bought these peanuts because I prefer peanut butter to almond butter (most of the time). I may be in the minority in this but oh well.

Peanut Butter & Co. make the most amazing White Chocolate Peanut Butter. It’s one of my favorites. I don’t know if you guys have noticed it or not, but food prices have gone up. Way up. So making your own peanut butter just makes good sense. I do feel weird calling this a recipe because there are only two ingredients. Well . . . three if you add salt. I never realized making your own nut butter could be so easy. My food processor is my favorite kitchen appliance.

White Chocolate Peanut Butter (makes about 1 2/3 c.)

2 cups dry roasted peanuts
1/2 c. white chocolate chips
salt to taste (optional, I did not add this because the peanuts I used were already salted)

You start out by placing the peanuts in your food processor.

Process until smooth. This process can take about ten minutes or so. So have patience! You will probably have to scrape the sides of the bowl several times until finished.

Meanwhile, melt white chocolate chips in microwave or over the stove on medium heat. My creative husband made our own double boiler by placing a large bowl over a pot filled with some water.

Once peanuts are a smooth consistency, add melted chocolate chips (and salt if using). Process well.

Enjoy! This peanut butter is a lot better than the store-bought stuff.

I had a serious lack of veggies this weekend so I decided to use my new white chocolate peanut butter in a delicious breakfast smoothie.

In the blender went:

2 large handfuls of spinach
a frozen banana
several fresh strawberries
1 c. of milk
half a scoop of vanilla protein powder
spoonful of white chocolate peanut butter

It was so delicious and healthy . . . not to mention filling. I don’t usually have smoothies for breakfast because they don’t fill  me up for very long. But this smoothie kept me full for a while. It was the perfect way to start the week.

Comfort Food

I have a confession to make: I actually like Chef Boyardee’s Beefaroni. I ate quite a bit of it when I was younger. As an adult, I have eaten Lean Cuisine’s Chili Mac, which is very similar, several times. My husband hates Chili Mac. He says that it reminds him of his days in the army. Apparently, he ate quite a bit of it when he was in the army and he got sick of it.

But Corey isn’t home, it’s my day off and it has been cold and rainy all day. Enter: comfort food!

The only time I got dressed today was to do an hour on the elliptical. After a workout like that, I needed carbs and comfort in a bowl. I was debating on what to make myself for lunch. I was trying to think of something comforting (yet healthy) I could make and then eat while I was snuggled on the couch in my pajamas.

So I decided to make my own version of Chili Mac. It came out quite tasty if I do say so myself. All of the ingredients were ones that I already had, it’s warm and comforting and the best part was that it only took me half an hour to cook it!

Because I spent so little time in the kitchen, I was able to get back into my pajamas quickly. For the rest of the day I watched girly movies that I knew my husband would never watch, like Ramona and Beezus and Anastasia. I miss Corey, but I love my alone time. :)

Chili Mac (serves 4)

1 lb. ground beef
8 oz. elbow macaroni, uncooked
1 (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
¼ – ½ c. pasta sauce*
¼ c. chopped onion
1 medium green pepper, chopped
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (can use more or less, depending on how spicy you like it)
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder

Begin cooking macaroni according to package directions. Brown ground beef and onion in large skillet. Once beef is browned, drain fat off the ground beef. Add diced tomatoes, pasta sauce, green pepper, and spices. Bring to a simmer and let simmer about 5 minutes, stirring often. Mix in cooked macaroni. Serve with cheese if desired (I did!).

*Cooking note: You can use as little pasta sauce or as much of it, depending on how liquidy you like it.

Baking Day!

First of all, I have updated my Recipes page! I organized it by category so the recipes are easier to find. I also added several photos to make you nice and hungry. ;) I encourage you to check it out.

I guess I am a glutton for punishment.

About a week or so ago, I mentioned that I have no self-control when it comes to my Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread. I ate way too much of it. But I was in the mood to bake today. And I wanted a snack to take to work tomorrow. So I made some more of that delicious bread.

This time I left out the walnuts. Why would I do that? Aside from the fact that I am completely out, I am going to take some of this bread to work tomorrow for my coworkers. One of my coworkers is allergic to nuts so I wanted to make sure she would be able to eat it. I learned my lesson last time: eat some and give some away. I can’t be trusted with the whole loaf.

I also made a bit of a salty snack: homemade pretzel bites! I have been on a pretzel kick lately and we are completely out. Rather than making a special trip to the store to buy them, I decided to make some. I searched around for several recipes online and finally just created my own recipe based on the ingredients that I knew they would need. I am so glad these turned out well.

These pretzel bites are delicious! They are golden brown and a little crispy on the outside and they have a wonderfully chewy center. If left alone with these for too long, there is no telling how many I would eat.

And they are so easy! Much easier than I thought they would be. The hardest part is waiting for an hour so the dough can rise. You can always half the recipe if you don’t want quite so many pretzel bites. But why would you want to?

Homemade Pretzel Bites (makes 100+ little pretzel bites)

1 1/5 c. warm water
2 T. brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
4 c. flour (I used half white and half wheat)
6 c. water
4 tsp. baking soda
salt to taste

In a mixing bowl, add yeast, water and sugar. Let sit for ten minutes. Mix in flour and knead for 8 minutes. Grease bowl and place dough back in bowl. Let rise for one hour, or until dough has doubled in size.

Separate dough into 10-12 pieces. Roll into long ropes about 1/3 inch thick. Cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Place on cookie sheet and let rise for 20 minutes.

the pretzel bites about to go into their "baking soda bath"

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add baking soda and reduce heat to gentle simmer. Boil pretzels in batches, about 20 seconds each, turning once. Sprinkle pretzel bites with a little salt (to taste). Bake at 450 degrees for 7-8 minutes or until golden brown.

Fresh out of the oven . . . check out who is lazing about in the background

You can dip them in mustard .  . .

Or pizza sauce .  . .

Or whatever else your little heart desires.

And now that I have officially ruined my appetite for dinner by eating too many pretzel bites, I am watching a little “Survivor” and “Modern Family” before turning in. Today is our last day of this wonderful staycation, so it’s back to work tomorrow! I guess we had to go back to the real world eventually. :)

Pumpkin Biscuits

I love breakfast for dinner. I tweeted a few weeks back that breakfast for dinner always seems like a treat. Several people commented back that it was the same for them as well. I wonder why that is.

Last week when I made Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread, I mentioned a recipe for Pumpkin Biscuits that came from the same cookbook. When I first saw that recipe I knew instantly that I wanted to make them. I even bought whole wheat pastry flour at Whole Foods this weekend specifically for this recipe.

When I was planning the menu for the week, I wanted to plan something that would go well with the biscuits. Breakfast was the best (and my favorite) option.

I am so glad I made these biscuits. They basically taste like regular biscuits with a slight hint of pumpkin and spice. The amount of sugar in them is perfect. It’s just enough so there is a hint of sweetness, but the sugar doesn’t overpower the biscuits or make them into a dessert.

Pumpkin Biscuits (makes 16-20 biscuits) – from Pumpkin: A Super Food for all 12 Months of the Year

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 c. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces
1 c. canned unsweetened pumpkin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flours, sugar, baking powder, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together in food processor. Add the butter and pulse a few times, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Dump the mixture into a large bowl. Stir in the pumpkin and mix until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Scrape the dough onto a floured surface and knead a few times, adding a little flour if it is very sticky. Pat the dough into a 1/2 inch circle and cut biscuits with a 2-inch biscuit cutter. Place biscuits 1 inch apart on a baking sheet and bake for 12 -15 minutes, until risen and lightly browned.

I ate two of the biscuits, one when it was fresh from the oven and another one with my dinner. They were so tasty with just a little bit of butter.

I had the biscuits with some breakfast potatoes, peppers and onion. I also had two eggs and one egg white scrambled with a little cheese.

It was perfection. :)

Lost Hour

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Yesterday’s Internet-free Sunday was just as awesome as last weekend. I really feel that staying away from the computer all day brings my husband and me closer. We spend more time together, we actually get out of the house and away from the television a little bit, we even laugh more. Sundays are now my favorite day of the week. :)

Did Daylight Savings Time mess anyone else up? Corey took care of Callie and allowed me to sleep in. When I looked at the clock after waking up, it said 7:30. Believe me when I say I do not usually sleep that late. Talk about luxury! It wasn’t until a couple of hours later that I remembered about the time change and realized that it was actually 8:30 when I woke up. That lost hour really messed with my internal clock all day.

Corey started the day off by making me breakfast. I love that he loves to make me breakfast on the weekends. He made me Peanut Butter Waffles. Yummy!

After breakfast, we relaxed a little and then I was in the mood for a good workout. In the spirit of trying a new workout, I turned on the Jillian Michaels Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism DVD. I used to do this through Comcast On Demand all the time, but the On Demand version of the workout is only 20 minutes. The full DVD version is 45 minutes long.

I have only done this full length version once and that was quite a while ago. This workout is a killer! It is all cardio and is intense. I discovered about halfway through the workout that waffles are NOT a good pre-workout meal. They were sitting in my stomach like a rock and I was feeling quite nauseous. Unfortunately I had to stop about 20 minutes into it. My stomach just couldn’t take anymore.

After my brief workout, Corey and I both took a shower and got ready for a fun afternoon in the park! It was so incredibly beautiful yesterday. It was about 75 degrees. It felt like summer! Or maybe I should say that it felt like Spring. Summers in Georgia are about 100 degrees.

It's a beautiful day for a picnic!

Corey and I decided to take a picnic lunch to eat in the park. I think Callie was more excited than we were.

For lunch, I took a grilled bacon, lettuce, and cheese sandwich.

 For dessert, I had  a slice of Chocolate Chip Pumpkin bread (yes I actually had a few slices left after last week’s pig out) along with some strawberries.

I have missed strawberries so much and I really feel like Spring is around the corner with the arrival of fresh berries. They were on sale at Publix for only $1.67! Score. :)

Enjoying a strawberry

We brought some toys for Callie to play fetch with, along with some treats. However, she wasn’t interested in any of it.

She was more interested in sniffing the ground, eating grass, and chasing bugs. You know, the usual dog stuff. ;)

Callie chasing some tiny little bug

We spent a while in the park, just enjoying the sunshine and taking lots and lots of photos of Callie. We were in a few of the pictures as well.

I think she was annoyed with out impromptu photo shoots.

But isn’t she just the most photogenic dog ever??

I could be a bit biased. ;) We need to teach her the command, “Look at me.” Most of the time she refuses to look at us if we are snapping pictures. If she does happen to glance our way, we have to snap the picture as quickly as we can before we lose the opportunity.

A family shot!

After our wonderful afternoon in the park, I was ready to finish my workout. Honestly, it would have driven me crazy for the rest of the night if I had left the workout unfinished. The second half was just as intense as the first, but my stomach felt a lot more settled. So I still got a 45 minute workout in yesterday!

Last night we had the idea to have a pizza night. We bought a package with two 8″ pizza crusts from Whole Foods. Corey and I do not agree on pizza toppings, so it was nice that we could each have our own personal pizza.

I made a great white cheese spread for my pizza. I can’t eat very much mozzarella cheese because it gives me migraines. Since I am loving goat cheese, I decided to make a spread out of that and some ricotta cheese. It was so delicious that I was eating it out of the bowl with a spoon.

Goat Cheese and Ricotta Spread for a pizza (makes enough for one small 8″ pizza)

1/3 c. Ricotta cheese
2 oz. soft goat cheese
1/2 c. fresh spinach
basil, parsley, and other spices to taste

Mix all ingredients and spread on pizza. Can use this instead of pizza sauce or spread some on top of pizza sauce (like I did!). Yummy!

On top of my pizza crust, I had pizza sauce, my cheese spread, a couple of slices of Applegate all natural pepperoni, and some green pepper slices.

Corey was a little more nervous than I was about the crust. It was gluten-free and he was afraid he would miss the gluten. Turns out, he was right. Maybe it was just the brand of crust, but it was too dry and didn’t have much flavor. Corey ended up getting something else for dinner, but I just scraped the cheese and veggies off my crust and ate that. It was still very tasty.

I hope everyone else had a great Sunday. Are you coping well with the lost hour?

Peanut Butter Stuffed French Toast

Clearly I am in love with French Toast.

I have been in the mood to make Blueberry and White Chocolate Stuffed French Toast all week. But what’s a girl to do when there is no cream cheese in the house? Enter . . . peanut butter!

It is National Peanut Butter after all. And this breakfast is a great way to celebrate.

This breakfast is easy, quick, and it’s healthy but tastes decadent. My favorite kind of breakfast! I think the only thing I would change next time would be to add more peanut butter. You can never go wrong with more peanut butter.

By the way . . . I am in love with Smucker’s all natural peanut butter. Only two ingredients (peanuts and salt) and do you know what the best part is? Only $2.49! No, you don’t have to pay $6 for all natural peanut butter. ;)

Peanut Butter Stuffed French Toast (serves one)

2 slices whole grain bread
1 tablespoon peanut butter (or nut butter of your choice)
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Spread peanut butter on a slice of the whole grain bread and press together with the other slice of bread to make a sandwich. Whisk together egg whites, vanilla and cinnamon. Coat the sandwich with the egg mixture. Cook in skillet for a couple of minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Serve with maple syrup.