Sunday, May 15, 2011

Be Exceptional. Bake a Brownie.

If you ever find yourself spending most of the afternoon thinking about brownies
(I never do this), but if you should, this is what you should do.

You should bake brownies. Not just any brownies though. You bake exceptional brownies with peanut butter and pretzels. Then you eat. You break all the rules and you eat a really big piece that takes more of a rectangle shape than a square. Enjoy every bite and forget about those hydrogenated oils and the fact that its 11:00 and Oprah says not to eat after 8:00. You rule your life. Eat the brownie.

Nothing accents a brownie better than a glass of milk. So after you finish cutting that large chocolaty piece of goo, pour yourself a glass. You deserve it.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Brownies
adapted from Martha Stewart

For the Brownie:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon instant coffee (optional)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon  salt
coarse sea salt for topping

For the Peanut Butter Filling:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter, I prefer natural peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
large handful of pretzel sticks

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Grease an 8×8-inch baking pan. Line with parchment paper so that it overhangs on two sides and grease the parchment paper as well. Boil two inches of water in a medium saucepan. 

Combine butter, unsweetened chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate and coffee powder in a heat proof bowl and place over the simmering water.  Stir until chocolate and butter are melted.  Use a pot holder to remove the bowl from the double boiler and let mixture cool slightly.  Stir in the vanilla extract.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk granulated sugar into the chocolate and butter mixture.  Make sure the chocolate mixture isn’t too hot and whisk the eggs in the mixture one at a time. Fold in the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture and spoon into prepared pan.

To make the Peanut Butter Filling, whisk together peanut butter, melted butter, powdered sugar, salt and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour the peanut butter mixture on top of the brownie batter and use a butter knife to swirl the two together. 

Arrange pretzel sticks on top of the brownie batter. Top with a few sprinkles of coarse sea salt.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Simple DIY Wreath

Hey friends! I had some spare time yesterday so I decided to stop into JoAnn's fabric store. I love crafts and projects of all kinds so this was a pretty natural way to spend an afternoon.  I undoubtedly spent way too much time wandering the isles of the store deciding which of the projects in my head I wanted to do the most. Craft stores are like some sort of weird time trap. Go in at 2:00 and all of the sudden you come out and it is 4:00. JoAnn knows what she's doing.

Anyway, I remembered that a couple weeks ago I saw an easy wreath in a DIY magazine that I thought would be perfect for summer. So, I made it. It didn't turn out exactly the way it was pictured in the magazine but I like it just the same. This project is very inexpensive and easily adaptable to your own taste. So try it!

Follow this simple tutorial and you too could have yourself a pretty cute summer wreath!

Supplies: Styrofoam ring, bag of buttons, magazine or newspaper, straight pins,
hot glue gun, and a paper cutter.
Cut your magazine or newspaper into a bunch of two inch strips.
Like so.

Begin wrapping your strips around the Styrofoam ring and gluing them in place.

Like so.

Add buttons with straight pins in a decorative pattern around your wreath.



Ta-Da! Perfect door wreath!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Just the Right Brew

My love for black and white photography helped capture the simplicity of our visit to Stuart yesterday. It was over cast and windy. It didn't make for great beach weather. It did make for perfect town exploration weather.

In case you are ever wondering, I need this cup of macadamia nut coffee and orange cranberry muffin. Once a week. For the rest of my life.

It's decided.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Creative and Content

Hey there friends.

The beach trip that began a few days ago with a string of unfortunate comical events has turned out to be quite relaxing and problem free. This little vacation of ours probably wouldn't match up with a vacation you would expect three young lasses like us would enjoy but this is just the way we like it.

We are staying in the Ocean Village condos in Fort Pierce where the average age of people is 65. We have spent hours under the sun with slight changes in scenery: beach or pool. A few people have questioned why we chose this place for our vacation and the answer is quite simple really, we are easily amazed by the beauty of everyday life. Trees. Flowers. Architecture. People. Food. Local flavor. And friendship.

These are two of my favorite gals; who express their creativity here and here. We ventured into the town yesterday evening to visit the jetties and observe the fishermen. It was just right.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Endless Summer

My two bestfriends/ roommates and I headed south last night for a week at the beach!

We encountered a few road blocks on our way to our Ocean Village condo in Port St. Lucie. These road blocks included but were not limited to: a mysterious 'John Lieberman', a miss-communication that consequently landed us in a hotel for the night and the inappropriate rap tune "Ms. Becky" blaring from the alarm clock as we put our key in the door to our hotel room. 

Prior to all of these shenanigans: the responsible, think-ahead people that we are thought it would be a good idea to purchase a gallon of milk (for coffee and cereal, of course) at the convenient store before we got to the condo. Great plan. Yeah, great plan except this was not just any gallon of milk, this gallon of milk was five whole dollars. That is more than a gallon of gas and we all know how expensive gas is. My frugal self was cringing. Just so you know.

So here we are. In a random hotel that is trying to turn our room into a nightly hot spot with a gallon of expensive whole milk, no keys to our condo and wanting to kill  this "John Lieberman" guy. (I won’t even talk about the sounds coming from outside our hotel room in the middle of the night that woke us up thinking the Sandhurst Hotel may have been turning into a space ship). No big deal.

But fear not my friends...
This morning, we got the whole condo situation straightened out, found out that John Lieberman does in fact exist and best of all, the milk did not spoil (special thanks to the nice lady at the hotel that kept it in her fridge overnight). We did, however, have to send a package to Nigeria this morning. But that's a different story. For a different day. It's time to go soak up some sun and enjoy my immediate post-graduation vacation.

It sure is a good thing I have great friends that make unfortunate situations seem like fun.