October 25, 2011

Memphis Mafia Bars

It started with a doughnut in Portland. A Voodoo doughnut. A doughnut so wonderful that it became my friend Ellie's Facebook profile picture.

Commenting ensued. It looked amazing. Banana. Chocolate. Peanut butter. It was called the Memphis Mafia. Hey, Memphis, do you know how many shared college memories are there? It needed to be replicated. We were reuniting in five weeks: excuse to invent a Memphis Mafia bar.

So for those of us who didn't get to check Portland off our destination wish list, we got the goodness of Memphis Mafia to snack on at the lake house.

Banana cake.
Chocolate frosting.
Peanut butter drizzle.
Chocolate chunks.

I even made it dairy free for a friend who can't have the best food group of all for now, and to my surprise, it was still as decadently delicious as that doughnut looks.

October 18, 2011

Game Day M&M Blondies

What's a girl to do when invited to an Auburn football-watching party when she could care less about football? Whip out some butter and sugar and use her type-A specialty to sort out team-colored M&Ms from the bag.
I truthfully didn't even think to wear team colors to said party but did show up with team-themed blondies...at least as far as they could see. I so thickly layered all the War Eagle colors from my package of candies that I had to put assorted remaining colors on the part of the blondies that didn't travel to the party.

In fact, I used so many M&Ms that it created a crust on top that crumbled when I cut the blondies up. You might use less than me if you want more perfected looking treats, but they stayed together well enough with the amount of chocolate I felt they needed. I choose chocolate over presentation.

I might only have allegiance to an SEC team because I lived in a state where it is forced, because I like not be ostracized from culture and because I feel I should support a sibling's educational institution. But I have decided that I like to be a fan of a team whose colors appear in standard M&M bags. This tends to coincide with having colors that are decent to wear, too. What a silly girl.

More Blondies:
Blondie Bites with Reese's Pieces Eggs
Blondies with Reese's
Chewy Chocolate Blondies 

October 11, 2011

7 Days, 7 Baked Goods

You know you might be obsessed with baking when the dessert:day ratio becomes 1:1 like it did for my past seven days. I felt was necessary to justify returning to the kitchen daily with my excuses to make sweet treats for special people.

Phase I: Hospitality House Dinner
On Tuesdays, groups from my (awesome new) church take turns cooking for a family shelter and then sharing the meal at tables family-style with the people there. Can I tell you how excited was when someone who I don't think knows how baking-obsessed I am put me in charge of my dessert? You know, so I could save the world by way of brightening a little spot of people's day with a home-baked confection.

1. Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Always a crowd pleaser, these guys were gobbled up by kids (and adults too) quickly.

2. Pecan Squares
Not so much the kid favorite, but the kind of bar that whose shortbread-pecan-toffee combo creates a wow factor in that first bite. A family friend once told me that they were "man bait." We'll see how accurate his labeling was if I ever feed them to single boys.

Phase II: Monthly Work Meeting
Always serves as an excuse to bake something appropriate for mid-morning.

3. Apple-Gouda-Oatmeal Snack Cookies
The Kitchn is to blame for this savory snack whom I will definitely be making again. Full post to come soon.

Phase IIIA: Lake Weekend Prep
The best part of the week came in a long-awaited lake retreat with 10 college friends and friends of friends and a baby, which of course called for an array of baked goods. I anticipated the weekend with menu planning and premixing cookie dough break-and-bake style. Because I have to learn to redirect my inner Martha and say with my actions that relationships are supreme over food, I reasoned that the weekend of I could focus less on food prep and more on people this way.

4. Malted Chocolate Cookie Dough
 Converted a friend who didn't think she liked malted things to want to make these colossal, decadent, chocolate-laden cookies. They are the best non-Tollhouse cookie I have found.

5. Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough
Because it was fall and they were requested as a non-chocolate cookie. I went with the recipe from the best food blog ever, Smitten Kitchen (who else can sell prints of their food photos?) and loved how chewy they turned out.

6. Memphis Mafia Bars
The grand finale of lake preparations was special bars based on this doughnut my friend Ellie had in Portland. Full post to come soon. Hint: it involved bananas, chocolate and peanut butter.

Phase IIIB: Lake Weekend, Real-Time
There's a place for bars and cookies you bake in advance and snack on all day, and there's an equally important place for fresh-out-the-oven dessert plated and served at the dinner table as you linger over conversation and drink.

7. Apple Crisp
Marinated pork tenderloin and butternut squash and my favorite autumn spinach salad were on the menu, so an equally fall-appropriate dessert was called for, with homemade vanilla ice cream of course. I recommend recruiting a fastidious peeler/chopper sous chef for this recipe, but yours might not be as cool as mine.

I think the relish-the-moment, don't-work-too-hard part of me took over by this point in the weekend because no photos were taken. Success for life, fail for blog.

October 4, 2011

Autumn Pasta with Butternut Squash, Greens, Bacon, and Brown Butter

Tastes-like-fall butternut squash pairs well in pasta dishes, as I learned last year at this time thanks to some fancy food dinners around Birmingham.

There was the herbed goat cheese ravioli with butternut squash, onions, bacon, shaved parmigiano-reggiano, sage, brown butter and sauteed mustard greens at Satterfield's.  And then a similar butternut-bacon-greens pasta at Bottega Cafe. Both were obvious choices in my order-something-unique-while-I'm-eating-out menu quest and more than pleased my palate.

Butternut squash and mustard greens came home with me from the farmer's market a few weeks ago, and while pondering what to do with my attempts to eat like fall, I remembered how badly I wanted to make my own version of the butternut pasta delight. Delish.