Archives for March 2014

March 18, 2014

Tuneage Tuesday #3

I absolutely love music. I can’t go through a day easily without it. Even at work (at least with my early shifts) I’ll have one of three music apps on my phone playing before the store opens. While working on a blog or even writing in my journal, I have to listen to one of my several playlists on itunes (playlists are the best things ever) or on 8tracks. Because of my love of music, I plan on sharing one song a week here on my blog. Either something I’ve always loved or a new song I’ve recently discovered.

Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings) – Silversun Pickups
“If we can stay here long enough
We can play with Bloody Mary
Say her name into the dark
Activate our nerve endings.”

I discovered Silversun Pickups (a Los Angeles alternative rock band) about six years ago, right after my mother passed away. I was going through a horribly dark time. I couldn’t follow along with any shows. I’d re-read the same line if I tried to read. Movies left me empty. But music, I could turn it up and either sing along or just let my mind tune out and not miss anything. At the time, Lazy Eye was constantly on the air. I LOVED that song. Since then, I’ve collected three of their cd’s and Bloody Mary has become my favorite song of theirs. It’s a great song to sing out loud while cooking or just cleaning up. I also love to blast it when showering :D

What songs/bands have you been listening to? Feel free to comment with some of your favorites or the ones you just discovered and can’t seem to stop playing.

March 16, 2014

Foodgasms: Dark Chocolate Guinness Brownies with Brown Sugar Frosting

I have a confession to make.

For many years I thought that I hated beer. I thought that I was strictly a liquor girl. But I was wrong. As it turns out, I merely hadn’t tried the correct beers.

I LOVE beer. As long as it is dark. Stouts and Porters specifically. And especially:

Guinness.

Guinness is love.

Delicious, dark and decadent Guinness. Which deepens the experience of any chocolate dessert that you could think of. And just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, I made these gooey and fudgey brownie bites with a super rich brown sugar frosting. And I happen to think that you’ll quite enjoy these as well.

How cute are these?

These little brownie bites are just so adorable. And so … yummy is the best word to use the taste explosion that will occur as soon as you pop one of these little babies into your mouth. If you’ve never cooked with alcohol and are worried about the flavor or the alcohol content, don’t be. While I would make sure that these remain an Adults Only treat, you will not get drunk or even buzzed from eating these. Approximately 40-50% of the alcohol is burned off when baking these and you’re not using all that much of the Guinness. What is left is a darker, more dense chocolate flavor that will leave you wanting more.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Dark Chocolate Guinness Brownie Bites:
Adapted from Ghirardelli’s Classic Chocolate Brownies Recipe

4oz Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup Ghirardelli Mini Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Chips
1/2 cup Guinness, reduced

First things first. Pour your Guinness into a small saucepan and while simmering, reduce until a 1/4 cup of concentrated Guinness is left. Guinness has a tendency to foam up so keep an eye on it. You may be able to prevent the foaming if you use room temperature Guinness. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place mini baking cups in a mini cupcake pan. Chop the 4 ounces of semi sweet chocolate bars into 1″ pieces.

In a small saucepan, over low heat, melt the chopped chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Stir the brown sugar and vanilla into the chocolate mixture. Add the eggs and mix well. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly fold the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture, mixing well until blended. Stir in the chocolate chips. Slowly fold in the Guinness until blended and fill the mini baking cups 2/3’s of the way. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Remember, do not overcook! Brownies should be just slightly undercooked. Remove from the oven and cool for at least 10 minutes.

Brown Sugar Frosting:
Taken from King Arthur Flour.
Additional notes (in italics) added by me.

7 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar and salt and cook, stirring, until the sugar melts. This can take some time. Will start to look like a thin caramel sauce when it’s ready. Add the milk, bring to a boil (this will seriously thin out the mixture, so don’t be alarmed by that) and pour into a mixing bowl to cool for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, stir in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Beat well; if the mixture appears too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar.

Frost the brownie bites while frosting is still warm. Otherwise, the frosting hardens considerably and can be difficult to spread.

March 15, 2014

California Waiting

wanderlust

“Hey
California waiting
Every little thing’s gotta be just right.”

If you know me personally or have ever read my about me page, then you know that I’m a California girl. Meaning, I grew up in California and lived there for 29 years. I moved out of my beautiful home state over five years ago, and have not been back since. Not even for a small visit. But, come June, this California girl will be back in “The Golden State” and I am truly excited.

It will certainly be different for me though. I am actually from Southern California and for this trip, I will be in Northern California. Most likely flying into San Francisco International Airport and driving to San Carlos to see my uncle and my beautiful younger cousin Mira. After that, we head to Paso Robles for the weekend in order to celebrate my uncle’s 60th birthday!

Aside from the fact that it has been forever since I have been to California, I cannot even recall the last time I was in Northern California. I’m almost positive the last time was when I was 19, but I cannot even begin to recall why I was there. But nevermind that. All that matters is that this trip will also mark the first time that my cousins Mira, Jeremy and Rachel and I have all been in the same room together since I was about … 22? Wow. That’s insane. Especially since at the time, I was the one in a long term relationship and they were all single. Now, I’m single and one is married, one is engaged and one is in a long term relationship. My how the tables have turned!

There’s still so much time before this trip even happens and while it’s not exactly a new state or even city for me to visit, nothing makes me happier than travelling. Time to really save up so that I can splurge like crazy and have the time of my life with my family! I have so little of it left, I’m going to treasure every second of my time with my family. <3 Have you ever been to Paso Robles? What places do you recommend for me to check out? Leave a comment with your suggestions!