Oven S’mores–Urban Indoor Camping

smores cover

Confession: this might be the laziest blog post in the 8 month history of Mommy Despot…blame it on the dog days of summer.  While s’mores aren’t exactly molecular gastronomy–really a one-handed monkey (or tired/frazzled mom) can make ‘em in a snap–they remain a classic summer treat and an ageless crowd favorite.   Here in NYC, we can’t go setting Central Park ablaze in crackling campfires… and pyro-parenting has a distinctive Child Protective Services ring to it, I’ll stick to the top shelf of my oven broiler.  Pull out a play tent, some small flash lights, a toy compass and dust off the ‘ol scary ghost stories from your frontal lobes…and BOOM! There you have it: an awesome play date where the only thing fired up is their imaginations.  Eat up, happy campers!

giant smore

smorebroil

Who needs a fire pit?! Crank up that oven broiler.

elsmore

Yum yum good.

dsmore

“Deconstructed” S’mores tent-side.

 

 

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Easiest EVER 4th of July Dessert

angel food cake

foodcakes

little firecracker

Good Bless the USA (-:

Seriously…the EASIEST 4th of July dessert (short of opening up a box of themed colored Big Stick popsicles–love those) EVER.  Berry allergies aside, if you come across a party guest that doesn’t love this, you very will may accuse them of having seared taste buds AND of being unpatriotic.

Step 1: Take your butt down to Wholefoods (or local market).   Step 2: Pick up a chocolate Angel Food Cake and purchase along with fresh blueberries, raspberries and strawberries and a pint of heavy whipping cream.  Step 3: Drop the cream into a mixer or simple stirring bowl, add a couple tablespoons of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and beat a few minutes until whipped cream texture.  Step 4: Rinse berries.  Step 5: Cut slices of angel food cake and plate with a mound of fresh berries and generous dollops of whipped cream.   Done…and super delish.

 

 

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Bake Sale Booyah!

Banana Marble Chocolate Chip Bar

 

Banana Chocolate Chip Marble Bar Front

 

banana marble chocolate chip side

 

So I’m sick competitive.  Doesn’t take much therapy (like one session: Awww Dad, you were the arm-chair star) to come to that deeply insightful and utterly useless understanding.   I grew up in a house full of rambunctious, close-in-age girls with a young and distracted (read selfishly immature) workaholic father at the helm.  Turns out, estrogen, teen hysteria and neglect make for close (and character building) quarters.  In a story book environment like that, what little girl doesn’t crave some validation from dear old Dad?  Well, the only way to get it was to stand out from the blurry pack of blond and beat the crap out of someone in sports, academics or artistic ability.  Picture Hunger Games meets suburban Saturday soccer…”Look, Daddy!  Girl down AND a yellow card…will you LOVE ME NOW!!??”  Repeat infighting with report cards and uncomfortably ambitious talent show performances.

So now I’m an adult.  Shit.  And a Mom.  Double Shit.  All my angst and neurosis mostly suppressed…but occasionally spilling over to…bake sales.  Bring IT, Bitch…Oh it’s Brought!        With this heavenly Banana Marble Chocolate Chip Bar.  A little cake, a lot bar.  The banana makes it wonderfully moist while the chocolate gives it rich structure.  Best in Show, Your Daddy Really Loves You, I WIN, good bars.  To the victor go the spoils…in the payment of tragic Karma …can’t wait for my girls to beautifully tie-in all my parental failings with baked up batches of kick-ass brownies.

Banana Marble Chocolate Chip Bars

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup of mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium)

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

 Directions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 x 9-inch pan.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Add the egg, vanilla and bananas and beat well.  Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add this to the creamed mixture and mix well.  Divide batter in half.  Add the cocoa powder to half, blend well and spread into the prepared pan.  Spoon the remaining batter on top and swirl with a knife.

Sprinkle evenly with the chocolate chips. Bake for 30 minutes or until the bars test done. Cool completely before cutting.

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Survival of the Hungriest…Citrus Blueberry Chocolate Bundt Cake

Can’t. Stop. Eating.  It has been a brutally cold week here in the Northeast.  I think Friday’s high in NYC was like 16 F with windchill factor making it feel like a mind-numbing 0 F.   I mostly cope by physically assaulting the snooze button and cowering under my blankets each morning, but when forced out onto the frigid streets, I insulate my face with synthetic animal covering, don thermal shirts with a unisex Uniqlo down vest and trudge on hideous–though practical–footwear that just so happen to decidedly remove any trace of femininity left in me…picture a butch Yeti.  With the outer me successfully layered, time to work on my inner layers…otherwise known as my rolling midsection.  Like any logical mammal primitively hardwired to survive a harsh and unforgiving winter, my brain’s been a hollering “Screw the gluten-free, sugar-free, alcohol abstaining nonsense!  Get some cake and booze in your belly, lest you freeze right here and now and die cold and very hungry!”  I can earnestly say, if the big chill continues into March, in my formerly diminutive (ish) place, one might soon find a 400 lb alcoholic…Go Vikings!  Uh-oh, the transformation has already begun.

This lemony, blueberry, chocolate-y wonder appeases both my butt’s wish (though most of the time, going tragically unheeded) to remain small (ish) and my mind’s Darwinean desire to save me from icy gusts that prey on the undernourished size 2’s of the Urban Tundra.  I’ve reduced the normally insane fat content of a Bundt cake to 1 stick of butter.  Yeah, I said ONE stick…yep, most traditional Bundts generally have two.  I’ve also cut 1/4 cup of sugar out and you won’t even miss it.  This cake is moist, sweet and moderately decadent.   See, you can have your cake, not freeze and ward off a forced move to Minnesota too.

Citrus Blueberry and Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

1 tablespoons granulated sugar

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

1 stick of butter, softened

1 tablespoon grated lemon rind

1 tablespoon of grated orange rind

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of lemon extract

1/2 cup of reduced-fat sour cream

1/4 cup of milk

1 cup fresh blueberries

1/2 cup of chocolate chips

2 tablespoons of powdered sugar for dusting

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. To prepare cake, coat a 12-cup Bundt pan with peeled paper wrapping of butter stick; dust with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Set aside.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
  4. Place 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, butter, and orange and lemon rind in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 2 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition (about 4 minutes total). Beat in vanilla extract, lemon extract, sour cream and milk.  Add flour mixture; beat at medium speed just until combined. Gently fold in blueberries and chocolate chips. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.
  5. Dust with powdered sugar.  I like to use an individual loose tea holder for a delicate touch.

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Santa Bring Your Insulin Pen

Just 2 nights to go before Santa comes looking for his sugar and gluten fix.  You know the drill: milk and cookies in exchange for the good loot.  Whether you’ve been naughty or nice, these seriously delicious citrus sugar cookies will guarantee the choice drop from the top of the sleigh.   Merry Christmas to all and to all a yummy night (-:

Citrus Sugar Cookies

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

9 tablespoons of unsalted butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1 1/4 teaspoons grated lemon peel

1 1/4 grated teaspoons of orange peel

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 large egg

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.   Mix butter, lemon peel and tangerine peel in large bowl until light.  Add 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup powdered sugar.  Beat in egg.  Add dry ingredients.  Mix until dough forms (dough will be soft). Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously flour work surface and rolling pin. Divide dough into 3 parts.  Press rolling pin into first section of dough several times to flatten slightly for easier rolling. Roll out dough to 1/8- to 1/4-inch thickness, frequently lifting and turning dough to prevent sticking. Using assorted cookie cutters dipped into flour, cut out cookies. Transfer cookies to greased baking sheets or silpat, spacing 1/2 inch apart. Gather dough scraps together and reserve.  Repeat with remaining sections.

Bake until cookies turn brown on edges, about 10 minutes. Let cookies stand on sheets 1 minute. Using metal spatula, transfer cookies to racks and cool completely.

 Sugar Icing

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 cup powdered sugar

crystalized sugar sprinkles

Whisk powdered sugar with lemon juice.  Drizzle cookie with icing or apply icing generously with a small spoon and then cover in sprinkles.

 

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Double Chocolate Cranberry Walnut Biscotti

These are fabulously delicious chocolate-y cookies, so much so that I got into some serious trouble trying to get through the cookie shoot above…I kept eating all the sweet and sinful props.  At one particularly low point, I even dipped one in the staged coffee.  In spite of my gluttony and complete lack of self control, I make these yummies often.  They’re easy to prepare and keep forever so they are great to have around for an impromptu tea time or a coffee break.  They are also a tasty treat for the holidays. The cranberries add a nice, seasonal touch…and after you run down to Michael’s for some inexpensive cellophane bags and ties, they make a great little gift for neighbors, schoolmates and co-workers…that’s if you can manage not to eat them all yourself.

 

Ingredients

2 cups of all purpose flour

1  teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

 

2 eggs

3 tablespoons of coconut oil

1 teaspoon of vanilla

3/4 cup of granulated sugar

1 teaspoon of grated orange rind

 

1/4 cup of cranberry

1/4 cup of crushed walnuts

1/4 chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix all dry ingredients separately in a bowl.  In mixer bowl, add eggs and the following 4 ingredients.  Mix until thoroughly combined.  Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.  Mixing until consistent dough is formed.  Mix in cranberries, walnuts and chocolate chips to the dough.  Place dough on a silpat/silicone baking sheet or well greased (you can used coconut oil or butter) cookie sheet.  Shape into a flat loaf about 11 inches in length by 6 inches in width with a bout a 1/2 inch thickness. Let bake for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and lower oven temp to 325 F.  Let flat baked loaf cool for 5 minutes then, with a serrated knife, cut horizontally into separate cookies.  Return separate cookies back to cookie sheet or silicone mat and cookie sheet and let bake for another 10 minutes.  Remove and let cool to room temperature before serving.

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