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Friday, October 14, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies

This is what it looks like pre-baked

bake to puffy goodness :)

sliced and ready to go!

I hope you're ready for another easy brownie recipe, because here it comes! One day I figured brownies and cookies would be an awesome combination, so I started researching recipes. All the ones I found required baking brownies and then making a separate egg-less cookie down that gets spread on top after the brownies are baked.  Sounds kind of weird...and time consuming. So I did my own experimenting and confirmed my hunch that this was super simple to do.

I took these bars to a dinner party and the reaction was "Brownies...AND cookies?!...Amazing!"

These are really dense, so a nice cup of milk is a great way to wash down them down!

Use your favorite brownie recipe and your favorite cookie dough recipe...or use a mix like I did!

-1 box brownie mix, prepared as directed
-1 pound chocolate chip cookie dough (feel free to use the refrigerated kind, I don't judge ;-))

To make
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Prepare brownie mix and spread in 9x13 inch baking pan.
-Scoop tablespoons of cookie dough evenly all over the pan.
-Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until brownie seems set and cookies have puffed up slightly.
-Let cool and then slice into bars.
-Devour with a cup of cold milk :)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting

I love anything pumpkin, especially desserts. Fall is my favorite season because of the breezy weather, beautiful colors on leaves, soup and hearty stews, and pumpkin!!!

I came across this recipe a while ago and have been waiting for an opportunity to try it. I must admit though, making these cupcakes was a really stressful experience. I started out with a recipe and quickly realized that I didn't have the accurate measurements for most of the ingredients. I measured out my brown sugar and didn't even have a 1/4 of what I needed, I was short on cocoa powder, the recipe called for too much butter (3 sticks in the batter!) and so forth, so I ditched the recipe and nervously did my own thing. My sister was "helping" by standing over my shoulder making comments like "This is really not your day" each time I discovered another lacking ingredient. There was even a supermarket run when I got to the frosting and discovered another shortage of supply on powered sugar.  I ended up spending 4 active hours on these cupcakes, and the result was a lot of drama and a very messy kitchen.

Another result? DELICIOUS cupcakes!!! The moistness is indescribable, a credit that goes to the pumpkin. With the cocoa powder and the pumpkin the cupcakes don't taste completely like chocolate or pumpkin, and the spice from the pumpkin mixture means you don't have to add anymore on your own.

These shouldn't take you guys as long as it took me now that there is a recipe you can follow, just make sure you have enough of the ingredients :)  These make a LOT of cupcakes, which I took as a great opportunity to share with friends, neighbors and teachers.  Don't panic at the butter/oil/sugar content, if this recipe was cut into 1/3 (12 cupcakes) the quantities are very reasonable.

Frost the cupcakes before you are ready to serve them, and store the frosting in the refrigerator and the unfrosted cupcakes on your counter-top.

Yields 36 large cupcakes or 24 large and 48 mini cupcakes

-3 cups flour
-1/4 cup cocoa powder
-4 teaspoons baking powder
-2 teaspoons baking soda
-3/4 cup salted butter (1.5 sticks). If you don't have salted butter use unsalted + 1 teaspoon salt.
-3/4 cup vegetable oil
-4 cups sugar
-7 eggs
-2 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate
-4 teaspoons vanilla extract
-1 cup buttermilk
-2 1/4 cups canned pumpkin (pie filling)

Pumpkin-Cream Cheese Frosting
-1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
-12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) cream cheese at room temperature
-4 cups confectioners sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-3/4 cup canned pumpkin (pie filling)

To make cucpcakes:
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.
-In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Drizzle in the oil and continue mixing.
-Add the eggs one at a time until well incorporated in the batter.
-Melt the baking chocolate and stir it in, add the vanilla.
-Switch the mixer to its lowest setting and alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk in two separate batches. Mix until everything is well combined. Stir in the pumpkin.
-Line cupcake pans with baking cups and fill the cups about 3/4 full.
-Bake the large cupcakes 20-25 minutes (mine were perfect at 23 minutes) and the mini cupcakes for 13-18 minutes (Mine took about 16).

While the cupcakes are baking prepare the frosting.

To prepare frosting:
-Use a mixer to cream the cream cheese and butter until perfectly smooth. Make sure you start off with room temperature cream cheese and butter so it does not get clumpy as you mix it.
-Switch the mixer to its lowest setting and the vanilla and pumpkin puree.  If you over mix the frosting will be too runny. If that happens its ok, just place it in the freezer while the cupcakes bake and cool and it should be a little firmer when you are ready to frost.
-Once the cupcakes are cooled, frost them and sprinkle a dash of cinnamon on top of the frosting.
-DEVOUR and enjoy!!!

P.S. Happy Birthday Sarah and Kifah!!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

This is my favorite pizza. Its saucy and spicy and just smack-your-lips delicious! I've borrowed all of the flavors of buffalo wings to top a delicious crust dusted with cornmeal. This is pizzeria style at its best!

-1 lb pizza dough (see my recipe at:
-2 tablespoons cornmeal
-1 cup buffalo wing sauce
-2 cups shredded cheese
-1/2 pound cooked chicken breast, diced
-1 cup finely sliced celery
-1/2 cup finely chopped green onion
-1/2 cup blue cheese dressing (or ranch)

To make
-Preheat oven to what is directed for cooking pizza dough. If you have a pizza stone, sprinkle cornmeal and lay rolled out dough on top of it. If your pizza pan has holes in it do not use the cornmeal.
-Layer the pizza with buffalo sauce, shredded cheese, chicken, celery and green onion.
-Bake for about 12 minutes or whatever is directed for your pizza dough.
-Remove pizza from oven and drizzle blue cheese dressing.
-Slice and serve. When I use a pizza stone I like to roll out the dough into a square and cut the slices into squares for more of a rustic style pizza.
-Enjoy :)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sukseh (Nutella Cookies)

If you've been to Syria chances are you've tried this dessert. I LOVE it. It took me a while to come up with this version. The traditional way to make it is with lots and lots of butter. The problem for me is I can eat a heavy dessert as long as I'm oblivious to exactly how much fat went into it, but if I've made it then I know how bad it is and I just feel guilty...

Not to say that this is a "healthy" dessert in any way because the butter got replaced with Nutella! When its Nutella though, you just can't resist :)

Makes 24 bars


- 2 tablespoons butter
-1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
-2 tablespoons cocoa powder
-3 tablespoons powdered (confectioner) sugar
-2 tablespoons Nutella
-1/3 cup of milk
-2 1/2 cups roughly broken tea biscuit cookies

To make
-Line a loaf pan with parchment paper or saran wrap, letting the paper extend over the edges to be folded over later.
-Melt the butter, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, Nutella and milk in a medium sized saucepan on medium heat. Stir constantly to incorporate the ingredients and to melt the chocolate chips.
-Once the mixture has melted turn off the heat and add cookies. Mix until the mixture has coated the cookies but do not over mash them.
-Transfer the mixture into the lined loaf pan, patting it down to make sure it is evenly distributed. Fold the extended paper over the top of the dessert to cover the mixture and place in the freezer for 4 hours to set.
-Once set, remove from the freezer and take the paper lined dessert out of the loaf pan. Let thaw for 10 minutes and then slice into 8 pieces. Slice each piece into 3 to create bars.
-Enjoy :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pesto Gorgonzola and Pine Nut Flatbread

My mom and I ordered a pizza with these toppings on it recently and we were wowed at the combination of the yummy flavors. So I did what I do best and I went home and made my own version :)  Using flat bread instead of pizza dough worked better because its quicker and you can control how many you make instead of ending up with a huge pizza.

This is a bit of a refined pizza because Gorgonzola cheese has a strong flavor, as does the pesto. But if you like these ingredients then you will love them together!

You can easily alter the quantities of this recipe to make however many pieces you want.

Makes 1 flat bread

-1 flat bread
-2 tablespoons pesto
-2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
-2 tablespoons Gorgonzola cheese crumbles

To make
-Spread the pesto evenly onto the flat bread. Sprinkle with pine nuts and Gorgonzola cheese.
-Toast in a toaster oven or a skillet until the cheese has melted and the flat bread has reached desired crispiness.
-Cut into 4 slices and serve
-Enjoy :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Arugula Salad (Salatet Jarjeer/ Wild Rocket)

I LOVE THIS SALAD. It's so crispy and tangy and refreshing. This is my staple daily salad that I make my family because my daughter really enjoys it and takes a second serving!

I copied this from various restaurants in Syria. It reminds me of summers with my family in the Middle East, which is partly why I like making it so often. The star of this salad is the sumac. Sumac is a small berry that gets dried and ground into a purple spice with a sour taste. I haven't seen this in chain grocery stores, but it is a standard spice in Middle Eastern markets. The rest of the salad is very simple, especially since the arugula is pre-washed, which makes it an ideal candidate for weeknight dinners.

Serves 4 adults

-1 package arugula leaves
-2 large tomatoes, diced
-4 Persian cucumbers, diced
-2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
-juice of 1 lemon

-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-1 heaping tablespoon sumac (purple colored spice found in Middle Eastern markets)
-salt to taste

-In a bowl combine the arugula, tomatoes, cucumbers and red onions. Top with lemon juice, olive oil, sumac and salt. Stir to combine and serve immediately to avoid wilting.
-Enjoy :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Chocolate Date Bars

I learned this delicious, NO BAKE, dairy-free dessert from my mother in law years ago and I immediately fell in love. These bars are a mix between the Middle Eastern culture (dates) and the American culture (cereal)...however, I say the spices I've added push them over to the Middle Eastern side ;-)

The bars freeze extremely well, just make sure to wrap and seal tightly. I really enjoy making a pan and having them around because they are quick to put together for last minute guests, and will last for quite a while in the refrigerator. Many mornings I have a bar of these as a sweet yet healthy start to my day with my coffee.

Dates are an excellent source of fiber and potassium, and their natural sugars give a boost of energy. This means you can enjoy them guilt free ;) Use coconut oil and non dairy chocolate chips to easily make this recipe vegan.

Makes about 32 bars

-2 tablespoons coconut oil (or butter)
-13 ounce baking dates (pitted and pureed)
-optional 2 tablespoons water
-4 cups crushed Honey Bunches of Oats (or corn flakes) cereal
-optional: 1 teaspoon each ground cardamom, anise seeds and cinnamon powder (I use all of these)
-1/2 cup shredded coconut (either sweetened and unsweetened)
-1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (or milk chocolate, but the bars will be sweeter)
-1 teaspoon coconut oil (or vegetable oil)

Sprinkled with coconut and ready for the chocolate
-Melt the butter in a saucepan (this can easily be done in a microwave instead) and add pitted dates. Stir together until the dates are softened. If the mixture feels too firm, add the optional water 1 tablespoon at a time until you have a spreadable consistency. Remove the pot from heat and stir in crushed cereal, ground cardamom, anise seeds and cinnamon powder. Use your hands (I recommend wearing disposable gloves) and mash the mixture together until everything is well incorporated. It will be really hot so you may want to give it a few minutes to cool down before mixing with your hands.
-Spray or butter a 9x13 inch pan and then spread date mixture evenly into the pan. Smooth out the top with the palm of your hand, then sprinkle the coconut evenly over the date mixture.
-Melt chocolate and oil for 30 seconds, then stir until all the chocolate is melted. Spread over the date mixture and refrigerate until the chocolate has set, about 30 minutes.
-Remove from the fridge and let the pan sit out for 5 minutes to soften a bit. Cut into 1/2 inch x 1 inch thick rows or any desired shape.
-Enjoy :)

All cut up and ready to be plated
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