Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Brownie Bites with Salted Caramel Frosting

These little buggers are so damn good! Sorry, without the damn it's just not the same. I really had to go there because these bites are a chocolaty, caramely, sweet and salty dream come true. Here's how to do it & yes, you'll want to do it!

Yield: 48 minis


  • Mini muffin tins
  • 48 mini paper liners
  • 48 caramels ( I chose to use whole caramels, however, you can easily slice them in half and get amazing results)
  • 4 ounces of dark chocolate (I use the pound bars sold at Trader Joe's)
  • 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon bourbon vanilla (Trader Joe's)
  • 1 cup flour
  • PAM spray
Salted Caramel Frosting:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 15 caramels
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of heavy cream
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • sea salt to taste (I used 2 teaspoons)
Frosting Garnish

  • 1 ounce of dark chocolate (Trader Joe's)
  • Zester or Grater

Preheat oven to 325. Line mini muffin tin with paper liners. Spray liners with PAM

Brownie: In a microwave safe bowl melt the butter and chocolate for about one minute.  Stir then place back in the microwave for an additional minute as needed. Mix well. Pour into an electric mixer. Add sugar and mix for one minute. Add eggs, mix for 30 seconds.  Add vanilla, salt and flour. Mix well.  

Place a teaspoon size amount in the liner. Place the caramel on top. Place another teaspoon size amount of batter on top of the caramel. No need to cover the caramel neatly. It will melt and fold in properly.

Bake for about 25 minutes. Cool.

Frosting: Place caramels in a microwave safe bowl and add the heavy cream. Microwave for 30 seconds, remove, stir then microwave for another 30 seconds. Stir until combined and allow to cool down for about 5 minutes.

Place the butter in an electric mixer. Mix for 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar, a bit at a time. Add the caramel. Mix well. Add salt to taste. Place in a pastry bag and decorate.

Garnish: Using a zester, grate the chocolate over the bites.



I modified the steps, cooking temperature, added PAM spray, used dark chocolate rather than unsweetened chocolate & substituted bourbon vanilla for vanilla.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Cheddar Broccoli Soup in the Ninja / Slow Cooker

My nephew is joining us for a few days & it's fun to see the cousins interact and engage with one another. The highlight for me has been watching their moves on the trampoline. With the exception of the deep voices, it is as if I'm watching a WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) show.

 The funniest part of the weekend was off the trampoline and on solid ground. At dinner time (or should I say at smackdown) I was given a rendition of their favorite moves.  The fluidity with the way they work together is remarkable. It's something that I notice watching team sports, when a group has played together for years. In our case, our kids have grown together since babes.  It's pretty cool to see how each cousin is so intuitive & anticipating the others' moves.

Kid friendly food is important when hosting friends and family. Yesterday we made our own pizza's with Trader Joe's pizza dough in a bag.  Good stuff!  Today, I was tempted to swing by Little Caesars for their $5.00 Monday "Hot and Ready" Pizza deal but decided that pizza two days in a row is just not right.  As my nephew is vegetarian so is the yummy recipe below:

  • 5 cups raw broccoli (once measured place in a food processor to desired consistency)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 whole medium yellow onion (place in a food processor)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • pepper to taste
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar or any cheddar combo

Place onion in the food processor and puree.  Remove & place the onion in the Ninja on Stove top, high. Pan fry for 6-8 minutes, stir each minute.

 Place broccoli in the food processor and puree. Remove.

Remove onion from the Ninja. Place butter in the Ninja. Once melted add the flour and mix using a whisk. Add the water & cream. Whisk until it's smooth.

Add broccoli, onion. Stir well. 

Add  salt, nutmeg & pepper. Stir.

Set on Slow Cooker Low for 8 hours.

Place soup in bowls and add a handful of cheese.

Serves: 8 

It's soup weather! What kind of soup do you serve when hosting friends and family?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Steamer Clams in the Ninja Cooking System

Hi friends,

It's been awhile since I've shared with you. Sorry about that. I've been in a bit of a conundrum lately, wanting to write blog posts for you but feeling like what I'm sharing is too personal with too many other lives involved.

Here is what that the daily recipe around here has contained:

  • 1 cup of challenges
  • 1/3 cup of excitement
  • 1/4 cup of change
  • 1 tablespoon of frustration
  • 1 teaspoon of anger
  • a dash of love
  • a sprinkle of support

Thankfully, with all that's been going on lately, I have happy news to share! I accepted a new job that begins in March. I'm thrilled for the opportunity to work with this group & contribute to the organization.  And for the first time in many many moons,  I'm imagining myself at this company for many years to come. Sooo very excited!

To celebrate, I drove the winding, ocean air road along Chuckanut Dr.& visited a long time friend, then paid a visit to one of my favorite places in the area: Taylor Shell Fish Farms. Fresh seafood abound! I purchased a 2 pound bag of clams.

 I received a Ninja Cooking System on my doorstep last week. It was a perk of attending the International Food Bloggers Conference in Portland in August. I've been anticipating its arrival and I've been lurking on my favorite food blogger facebook group sites for weeks to follow the arrival of the Ninja's! Why the enthusiasm?  It's a complete cooking system. I can steam, slow cook, steam roast and fry/stove top cook in one pot. My favorite feature is that I can prepare a complete meal (veggie, protein, starch) in the Ninja in 30 minutes.  Did I mention that Ninja is lined with a non stick surface! Easy to clean!

How to make fresh Steamer Clams in the Ninja:

  • 2 pounds clams
  • 1 cup white dry wine 
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • half a yellow onion, diced 
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt

1. Place pot in cooking system. Plug the unit into an electrical outlet. Turn the stove top dial to medium.

2. Add oil, onions, garlic and wine. Saute for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3.Add water, sea salt

4. Place roasting rack on top of the onion, water & wine mixture. Place clams inside the roasting rack. Place the lid on top of the Ninja. Set dial to Oven 425 & steam for 7 minutes.  Lift roasting rack out, lean sideways and pour the steamers in the broth. Toss to coat, remove then serve!

What type of seafood have you been enjoying lately?