Monday, November 19, 2012

Blog Swap: Eat*Drink*Cleveland - Pretzel Crusted Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares

I would like to introduce you to my lovely friend Crystal.  She's one of my favorite people that I've met through blogging.  She writes Eat*Drink*Cleveland and we've swapped interwebs as part of the Ohio Blogging Association's All State Blog Swap.  Check out my post on Crystal's blog today, I have a great list of easy appetizers for all the parties you'll be attending this holiday season.  To check out the list of all the participating blogs, head over to Poise in Parma.

Hello everyone!
My name is Crystal and my blog is Eat*Drink*ClevelandI'm here on Sarah's blog today as part of the Ohio Blogging Association's 2012 Blog SwapI write about food and fun in NE Ohio. Restaurants, local festivals, recipes, food events and favorite cocktails are just some of the topics you'll find on my blog. 

I was so happy to find out that Sarah was my blog swap partner! Not only do I love her in real life, but we also have a lot in common including our love of cooking. But I can never follow a recipe exactly ~ I always like to tweak recipes and come up with new ones.

Except for this past Friday - for once I actually followed the recipe! I took the day off and was cooking for my Stella & Dot trunk show later that night. I wanted to try something new so I sent out a Tweet asking for people's favorite things to make for parties. @SarahCLeimbach sent me several recipes but one jumped out at me: Chocolate Chip Bars with a Salty Pretzel Crust from Simply Scratch. I'm a pretzel fiend and absolutely love chocolate chip cookies so I knew I had to try these!
I liked this recipe because they are BAR cookies which means that you don't have to be a slave to the oven every 8-10 minutes.

I didn't like this recipe because you end up losing most of the pretzels ~ they don't stick to the bottom of the bars! The picture on the right below shows all the pretzels that were left behind. I needed to find a way to fix that.


They recommended using more butter but I didn't want to add even MORE calories so I decided to turn the crust into a topping - problem solved! Here's my version of the recipe, Pretzel Crusted Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares:

  • 2-1/2 cups Pretzels, crushed
  • 1 cup Toasted Salted Pecans
  • 1/2 cup Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 2-1/4 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13x2 baking pan with parchment paper. This makes it a lot easier to remove the cookies from the pan, trust me!
  • Beat butter and sugars at medium speed until creamy. Add eggs and the vanilla, beating just until blended.
  • Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Whisk until combined and gradually add to the sugar/egg mixture, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides and add the chocolate chips. Gently mix until chips are incorporated. Pour into prepared pan.
  • Place pretzels in a food processor. Pulse until almost crushed. Add pecans and pulse until nuts are chopped. You don't want fine crumbs so keep it a little chunky. Once the pretzels and nuts are crushed, combine them with the melted butter and stir. Spread pretzel evenly mixture over the top of your batter. Press gently into the cookie dough.
  • Place the pan in your preheated oven and bake for 20-24 minutes, rotating the pan half-way through the cookie time. Remove when the bars are golden and a tester comes out clean.
  • When bars have cooled, remove by using the parchment paper and cut into bars.
Do you see how gooey those bars are? I like to under bake my chocolate chip cookies so I did the same with these. 

These were a huge hit and are definitely one of my new favorites. I'll be making them again for sure and hope you like them as much as I do!

Wowzers Crystal, these look great! I prefer bar cookies and blondies for the same reason, and I'm with you on under baking.  Somehow I totally missed these at your party, thanks for sharing the recipe!

UPDATE:  I made these bars last night and they are goo-ood!  Make sure you really press the pretzel and pecan mixture down into the dough so it's sticks really well.  It'll seem like too much topping, but the dough will puff up a bit and will be the perfect ratio once it's done baking.

Pin It

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

When I think about coffee cake, family gatherings come to mind.  This recipe is what my mom and gram have always made and I love it.  Kevin's family uses a very similar recipe for Christmas morning so it brings up good memories for both of us.

This sour cream coffee cake can be made ahead, it freezes well and travels well. These pictures were taken after the coffee cake traveled from NY to OH via Gram and it still looks good.  Coffe cake is perfect for all the upcoming holidays.  It's especially great when you have house guests (or if you'll be a house guest, Gram always brings one when she's comes to CLE).  It could be a supplement to brunch, but it's also nice on it's own if you don't want to make a huge deal out of breakfast (bonus: house guests can help themselves as soon as they wake up). 
Cook's Note:  My gram's advice is don't substitute butter for the shortening, it makes the coffee cake too crumbly.  Other than that, you can't really screw it up. 

Sour Cream Coffee Cake
From Gram V, published in Favorite Recipes of the Medina Memorial Hospital Employees
Yield: 12 servings
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening (don't substitute butter)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease a tube pan (aka angel food cake pan).
Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.  In a separate mixing bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar.  Add the eggs and vanilla, beat until creamy.  Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the sour cream to the creamed sugar mixture.
Combine all of the ingredients except the filling in a bowl.
Put half of the batter into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle half of the filling over the top.  Add the remaining batter to the pan.  Sprinkle the rest of the filling on top.  Using a knife, cut through the very top of the batter to make the filling stick better.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes.

Pin It

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Today I Turn 30 (A 30 Before 30 Wrap Up)

Happy Birthday to me!  I am now officially 30 (and happily embracing it)!  After your 21st birthday, the only milestones are at the change of the decades so I'm taking advantage.  I started celebrating last weekend and will continue for the rest of the month!  I don't usually make a big deal out of my birthday, but I am making a point to this year.

Let's see how I did on my list.

30 Before 30:
(in no particular order)
  1. Attend a concert at Blossom
  2. Keep in touch with people better  (I need to keep working on this, but I have been doing better.)
  3. Blog more regularly
  4. Participate in a blog swap
  5. Sing karaoke in public 
  6. Bake for a good cause
  7. Visit my sister in Atlanta (Don't worry Melissa, this will happen and I'm looking forward to it!) 
  8. Visit my brother in New Orleans (NOLA was on our list even before Jim moved down there so we'll definitely be visiting.)
  9. Volunteer (Since my last update I've been back to the Cleveland Foodbank and I volunteered at MedWish.  My friends Julie and Amanda have a great write up about our time at MedWish.)
  10. Attend a Tremont Art Walk 
  11. Visit one of Cleveland's beaches  (I visited Edgewater Park on a nice fall day.)
  12. Now that the elephants are back in their new habitat, I want to visit the zoo again. 
  13. Visit the MetroParks outside of Solon
  14. Host more parties
  15. Learn how to draw (Sometimes I don't start things because I'm afraid I won't be any good.  I need to get over this and just try.)
  16. Spend less time on the computer
  17. Visit Stan Hywet Hall (I didn't get here before I turned 30, but I have plans to vist when it's decorated for the holidays. I heard it's gorgeous!)
  18. Try to relax (I think overall I was better at relaxing and giving myself a break about things.  Thanks to online deals I've also gotten a few massages and my first pedicure.)
  19. Make our wedding album (our 5 year anniversary is a month before I turn 30) (I'm so overwhelmed by this task that I keep putting it off. It would be a good thing to do on a wintery weekend when we don't feel like leaving the house.)
  20. Visit the West Side more often
  21. Attend a Lake Erie Monsters hockey game
  22. Attend a Burning River Roller Girls bout 
  23. Go skydiving (I bought the Groupon to do this, but I failed to schedule a "dive" before it got too cold so I'm waiting until next spring.)
  24. Learn how to use some of the features on our camera (We have a point and shoot that allows some manual tweaking.  I learned some controls for exposure and aperture.)
  25. Go tobogganing (We didn't have hardly any snow last year so this was nearly impossible.  It's high on my winter to do list for this year, I hope we have better luck!)
  26. Be more positive about day to day stuff (I happier now than I was a year ago so that definitely helps with being more positive.)
  27. Try at least 6 new restaurants
  28. Drink more wine
  29. Visit Cleveland's Asiatown and eat dim sum
  30. Exercise more (I exercised more than the previous year so I'm going to mark it off, but I need to make it a higher priority.)

I'd say that I was pretty successful with my list.  I'll work on the ones I didn't get to and continue the ones that are good ways of life.

If you want to check my progress over the past year, here are my other updates:

Pin It

Friday, November 2, 2012

Soup & Chili Roundup

I hope you're all doing okay after the storms. Even around Cleveland Sandy made quite a mess!  A lot of people are still out of power and will be for a few more days.  Luckily, we didn't have any issues at our house.

The cold, rain and storms have me craving a warm bowl of anything.  Soup and chili can be a good way to help clean out the fridge without a recipe (leftover Fresh Fork veggies anyone).  Sometimes you want a little more guidance when you cook things up so here is collection of soups and chilis that are sure to warm your bones. 

Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Soup)
Tomato Soup
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Creamy Mushroom Soup

Buffalo Chicken Chili
Italian Wedding Soup
Broccoli Cheese Soup

Pin It