No Bake Granola Bars

I don’t know about you, but I love sugar. I also love real food. What I love even more, is satisfying my sugar cravings with real food that tastes like it should be bad for me, but it’s not. Spoiler alert: pretty much anything that comes pre-packaged is bad for you, even the “healthy” granola bars at my beloved Trader Joe’s. The problem is all of the unnecessary sugar, preservatives and fillers they throw in, but they taste so good! Alas, I have solved the problem for you.bars2bars5 In an effort to eat something relatively healthy, or at least all natural, I made no bake granola bars. These puppies are packed with so many nuts that they keep your hunger at bay, helping you resist the box of doughnuts in the staff break room. Resist the temptation my friend, resist. Plus, if you’re going to eat doughnuts, at least be a DIYer about it.
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My motto is: if you’re going to eat sweets, make them yourself. Jk, I don’t have a motto. But seriously, instead of falling victim to the trap that is corporate America and injecting your body with toxic, made-in-a-factory crap, try whipping it up yourself. Chances are, it will taste better anyway. I know, I know, I’m lazy too and I don’t like to make everything from scratch. Good thing these only take all of 5 minutes to make.bars6FullSizeRender

No Bake Granola Bars

3/4 cup almond butter
3/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup honey
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup walnut pieces (raw or toasted)
3/4 cup almond slivers (raw or toasted)
3/4 cup sunflower seeds (raw or toasted)
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 1/4 cup unsweetened dried blueberries (or dried fruit of your choice)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Throw everything into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a large mixing bowl) and mix on medium/low speed until everything comes together into a loose ball.

Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Spread out the granola mix evenly on to the sheet pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night, or at least 2 hours.

Remove from fridge and transfer the granola bar slab from the sheet pan to the counter. cut strips out of the slab to your desired size. Individually wrap bars in plastic, or place in parchment lined tupperware with parchment in between each layer. Store in fridge.

Now grab a couple and go for hike!bars1

4th of July Parfaits

The 4th of July is always an interesting holiday. You have the over-the-top patriotic types yelling “‘Merica!” every chance they get, the soccer moms in their token american flag Target t-shirt, the people who just want an excuse to get wasted celebrate, and then, of course, you have everyone else. No matter which category you fall into, everyone’s gotta eat! And what better way to start off the day of commemorating our nations independence than with a…wait for it…bomb breakfast?p4p1

Now, this probably won’t work for all of the partiers out there who need a little more substance to soak up their pursuit of 12 hours of alcohol consumption, but it is definitely one way I’ll be celebrating all year.p5

4th of July Parfaits

Fresh blueberries
Fresh strawberries
Plain greek yogurt (or vanilla of you’re feeling fancy)
Granola, store bought or homemade

This recipe couldn’t be easier, simply grab yourself a mason jar and start layering: strawberries, yogurt, granola, yogurt, blueberries, yogurt, granola. Bam! These little treats would also be great for brunch, mini patriotic parfaits anyone?p2 p4

Pain Au Chocolat

The pain au chocolat, or for the non-pretentious (unless you’re actually french) chocolate croissant, is by far, one of my favorite dessert/breakfast foods. It is also one of my favorite pastries to make. I didn’t catch my oven on fire this time, and I’m happy to say that these little bad boys turned out pretty darn delicious. I mean, seriously, what’s better than chocolate wrapped in flakey layers of butter? NOTHING.c10

c11I spent the better part of my day making the pain au chocolat and even though I will never get back those precious five hours I could have spent binge watching Orange is the New Black season 3 contributing to society and helping the poor, it was totally worth it.c1 c2 c3 c5c7

Pain Au Chocolat

3 1/2 ounces water (105-115 degrees f)
1/4 ounce active dry yeast
2 1/2 ounces bread flour
1 1/4 ounces sugar
3/8 ounce salt
6 ounces milk
3/4 ounce water
1 pound bread flour (or all purpose)
10 ounces butter
chocolate chips
1 egg

Start by making a sponge: add the water, yeast, 2 1/2 ounces bread flour and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk together. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit about 30 minutes. The mixture should be lumpy and, when ready, have small bubbles on the surface. The bubbles are a sign of the yeast activating, no bubbles = dead yeast.

When sponge is ready, add the salt, milk, water and 1 pound bread flour. Mix on medium speed with a dough hook attachment until combined. Do not over mix. You want the dough to be moist and lumpy. If dough is too dry, add a little bit of water, one teaspoon at a time.

When ready, place the dough on a vegetable-sprayed piece of parchment paper and cover with a vegetable-sprayed piece of plastic wrap. Let sit in a cool place for 1 hour. Alternately, you could refrigerate the dough overnight.

With your butter, cut each stick hotdog-style, then cut again to get 4 even slices. Lay the butter out flat on a large piece of plastic wrap, making a rectangle shape. Cover with another large layer of plastic wrap and beat the butter with your rolling pin until the butter is a smooth, pliable texture.

When dough is ready, place on a floured surface and roll it out to twice the size of the butter. Lay the butter on one half of the dough and fold the other half over it. Pinch the sides of the dough to enrobe the butter. Roll out the dough to a long rectangle shape. Make a 3 fold with the dough by folding one side 2/3 of the way down, then folding the other side over it. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Do this two more times.

After 3×3 folds, roll dough out to 1/4 inch. Using a pastry wheel or pizza cutter, cut out small rectangle shapes. The size of the rectangles depends on how big you want the croissants, I made mini croissants. You can roll out the individual rectangles more if they are too small, or too thick. Add a small hand full of chocolate chips to each piece and fold over itself, similar to the 3 fold.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees f.

Place croissants on a sheet pan with parchment paper. Make egg wash by whisking together one egg, a splash of water and a pinch of salt. Brush the top of each croissant with egg wash and place in an enclosed area to proof. I made a small batch and placed my croissants on my toaster oven with a bowl of steaming water under the sheet pan. The main goal is for the croissants to be covered in a humid environment. Croissants are fully proofed when they have roughly doubled in size and when they resemble jello when shaken. Depending on the temperature of the room and size of the croissants, this can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Place croissants in oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat of the oven to 350 degrees f and continue baking until done. Croissants are done when they are a deep golden brown; they will feel very light if you pick one up. Celebrate the wondrous feat you have just overcome by eating all of them!c12 c9

Vanilla Bean Bread Pudding

So I almost burned my house down trying to make croissants the other day…let’s back up. Croissants are one of my favorite viennoiserie items to make. They’re kind of a work out, extremely time consuming and particularly satisfying. Blood sweat and tears go into every batch of my croissant dough (not really) and I wouldn’t want it any other way…jk, it would be great to have a sheeter.

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Anyways, here I was on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, having spent hours laminating and rolling out my dough, finally able to jump in the shower and rinse off the two inch layer of flour accumulating over my skin when I smell it. The smoke. No biggie, I only had one sheet pan and too many croissants so I just threw some on the pizza stone, a little bit of butter must have dripped down to the bottom of the oven causing a tiny bit of smoke, right? Wrong. A lot of butter dripped, so much so that, faster than a knife fight in a phone booth, my oven was engulfed in flames. I thought to myself: WWSD (what would Sean do, my fire-fighting older brother) and had no idea so, naturally, I googled it. FYI, if your oven catches on fire just turn it off and leave the door closed.bp4

Basically, I completely ruined my croissants and thus Brianna’s not-so-famous Vanilla Bean Bread Pudding was birthed.bp3 bp2

Vanilla Bean Bread Pudding

2 cups raw cane sugar
5 eggs, beaten
2 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup golden rasins
4 cups cubed croissants, let stale over night
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup pecans, chopped

Vanilla Bean Sauce:
1 cup raw cane sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon madagascar vanilla bean paste

Preheat oven to 350.

Add the cubed croissants to a large bowl with the cane sugar, eggs, whole milk, raisins and vanilla. Mix together and let sit for 15 minutes.

In a saucepan, melt the butter, remove from heat and mix in the brown sugar and pecans.

Pour the croissant mixture into a medium size casserole dish and then top with the brown sugar and pecan mixture.

Bake 45-60 minutes, or until set. The bread pudding should jiggle slightly when done.

To make the sauce, add the melted butter, sugar and egg to a small sauce pan and heat on medium/high until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla bean paste.

When bread pudding is ready, allow to cool slightly, top generously with vanilla bean sauce and enjoy!bp5

*recipe adapted from this one

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

Okay, so they’re not technically shortbread cookies, but who’s really, honestly counting? If it tastes like shortbread, and looks like shortbread, I’m just going to go ahead and call it shortbread. There’s nothing worse than planning on baking something all day and coming home to find the fridge eggless. How do we not have eggs?! Luckily for me, the internet is laced with eggless (or anything-less) recipes.cookies3

These cookies have the perfect combination of a buttery taste and crumbly texture, making them great with milk, coffee, tea, you name it! The best part is, they’re super easy to make and even easier to eat…minus the crumbs, but whatevs.cookies1 cookies2

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup all natural, crunchy peanut butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup raw cane sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 and line two half sheet pans with parchment paper.

In a stand mixer, cream the butter, peanut butter and sugars together on medium speed until combined. Scrape the bowl down with a spatula.

Mix together the oil, milk and vanilla and add to the creamed mixture on low speed. Scrape the bowl down again and mix until combined.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and mix on low until just combined. Mix in the chocolate chips.

Using a small cookie or ice cream scoop (or your hands), scoop out the cookie dough and place evenly on sheet pan- 12 cookies per pan. Bake until cookies are a light golden brown, about 8 minutes. Pour yourself a huge glass of milk and enjoy!cookies4 cookies6 cookies5

Crock Pot Mac & Cheese

I know I start out a lot of these posts talking about how much I love this or that food, but it’s always true! Especially this time. I could eat mac and cheese all day, everyday (okay, maybe I’d have to mix in some french toast here and there…mac and cheese french toast?). I recently had some amazing mac at a wedding and it left me wanting more, so here we are!mac2

There’s just something about that soft noodle topped with endless cheese sauce and more cheese that gets my mouth watering. The only thing that could possible make mac and cheese more delectable is goat cheese, so I added that and bam! It’s delish. Seriously, go make some right now. And if you’re one of those weirdos out there that’s like, “eww goat cheese is disgusting, I only eat dairy from cows,” then at least add some havarti instead.mac1

Crock Pot Mac & Cheese

5 ounces goat cheese
8 ounces cheddar cheese
2 1/2 cups uncooked macaroni noodles
3 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Place everything, except the cheese, in a crock pot and cook on high for 1 1/2 hours, or until the noodles are al dente.

Mix in the cheese and cook an additional 15-30 minutes, or until the cheese is a melted, creamy consistency.

Enjoy!mac3mac4

*if there is too much liquid in the crock pot when the noodles are done, pour some out before adding in the cheese.

Lemon Blueberry Scones

I went to a tea party over the weekend and before you think I’m 6, it was a bridal tea, so it was full of class and sophistication…obviously. There was tea and finger sandwiches galore and, of course, scones. Now, I have to admit that, though mine weren’t the prettiest scones around, they were definitely the tastiest! Jk, everything was good.scones6

I’ve seen scones made in so many different ways, which is weird because they’re scones, how many ways can you make ’em? Well, a lot, but I prefer the simple, classic approach: throw it all in a bowl and mix! or something like that.scones7

There are few things in life more satisfying than tea and scones (like cappuccinos and croissants, but that’s another post), so whip up a batch of these bad boys, brew some earl grey and get to snackin’! Oh, and maybe throw on a big hat for good measure.scones1scones2

Lemon Blueberry Scones

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup butter, cold and cut into small chunks
1 egg
4 ounces 1/2&1/2
4 ounces buttermilk
2 cups frozen blueberries

Powdered sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add all of the dry ingredients plus the lemon zest. Add the butter chunks (make sure the butter is super cold, you could even have it sitting in the freezer for an hour or so) and mix on low until the butter chunks are roughly pea-sized.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, 1/2&1/2 and buttermilk and slowly pour into the flour mixture while the mixer is on low speed. When the mixture is about half way combined, add the frozen blueberries and mix until just combined. Do not over mix.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and form two (or three) logs with the dough. Use a bench knife to cut the logs into triangle-shaped pieces. Spread the scones out evenly on a sheet pan, sprinkle some course sugar on each one and bake until done, about 10 minutes or until they are a very light golden brown.

While the scones are baking, whisk together the juice of the lemon and enough powdered sugar until the mixture is slightly thick and easily pourable.

When scones have cooled, use a pastry bag (or plastic bag with the corner cut off or a squeeze bottle) and drizzle the scones generously, then eat them all.scones4 scones5