Galentine’s Day Jam and Nutella Straws

I’m so happy that we live in a time where we can take a holiday (that is normally exclusive and can be a bummer to many) and turn it into something fun, lady-positive, and delicious. Kudos to Leslie Knope and the writers of Parks and Rec for making it a thing.  For tomorrow’s Galentine’s Day Brunch, I made these puff pastry straws. Super easy to put together, yet decadent enough for a special occasion. Definitely go well with too much coffee and awesome friends. Original recipe from Sprinkle Bakes.
IMG_79381 package puff pastry (2 sheets)

1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam

Flour for dusting

Powdered sugar for sprinkling

“Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment and set aside.” Personal tip: use cooking spray on top of the parchment to avoid peeling jam-encrusted pastry bits later on.

Allow puff pastry to thaw as directed on the package.  Dust work surface with flour and lightly dust rolling pin with flour. Roll out puff pastry until about 2″ larger on each side.  Cut crosswise into two rectangles.

Heat 1/4 cup of jam in microwave for 15-20 seconds, just enough to loosen the consistency.

With a pastry brush, coat one piece of puff pastry with half the jam.  Cover jam-coated piece with the remaining plain piece of puff pastry and gently roll together with rolling pin – not too hard, or your jam will squish out.”

strawsSlice into long strips and twist, then place on parchment lined pan.   Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool before removing from the pan.  Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar.

IMG_7904“Repeat process with second sheet of puff pastry.”  For added variety, I used Nutella diluted with a bit of melted butter on the second batch. Thanks, Sprinkle Bakes!

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Potluck Planning

Do you have any go-to recipes or crowd pleasing dishes for big dinners? I often try something new at the last minute, which usually involves some unexpected little disasters along the way. Nevertheless, here is what I’m planning on making over the next few weeks:Perencake2Pear cardamom cake [via]

Caramel pecan tart [via] or [via]

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 11.24.56 PMLamb chops with garlic [via]

MTM0NTE3OTc2NTQ3MjM1MDkwRoasted sweet potato, beets, fennel and pear with cinnamon dressing [via]

Potato chips dipped in chocolate + toffee bits

chocolate dipped chips littlekokomo.com

I swear I’ll post something healthy soon, but for now let’s just indulge ok? Besides, these guys are meant to be shared and savoured, so portion size is very much under control here. I saw this a while ago on Joy the Baker, and decided to take it to the next level by adding bits of Skor toffee on top. Toffee bits are pretty much crack for someone with a sweet tooth, by the way.
IMG_6923Here’s what i used: 
-1/2 a bar of dark chocolate broken into small chunks. Chocolate chips could work too.
-about 2 handfuls of Ruffles regular potato chips (try to get a bag that hasn’t been crushed)
-Skor Toffee bits
-a drop of vanilla (optional)
-a tsp of coconut oil (optional)
-parchment paper
-a small pot and bowl to fit in it
chups1chocolate dipped chips littlekokomo.comPour some water into the pot, about 1/4 full. Add the bowl (metal or glass) on top, creating a bain-marie (a.k.a. double boiler). Add the chocolate pieces, turn the heat on low and stir frequently. This method is key for melting the chocolate without burning the bottom. Once melted, add the vanilla and coconut oil, stir. Carefully dip chips and place them on parchment paper, adding the toffee bits while the chocolate sets. You can put them in the fridge for 15 minutes or so, just not too long or the chips will start to get soggy. Enjoy (in moderation!), xo.
chocolate dipped chips littlekokomo.com

My go-to lemon squares recipe

lemon squares littlekokomo.com

Lemon squares are the kind of treat I crave year round. They brighten up dull winter days and are equally refreshing when a heat wave hits in the summer. I’ve been using this Smitten Kitchen + Barefoot Contessa recipe for a few years now and they never fail to turn out AMAZING. Please be warned: like most good things, they require quite a bit of prep time, so make sure you have the energy and nothing to do for at least an hour. I like the tartness of regular lemons, but you can also try this with meyer lemons, or adding a little lime juice to mix it up. Here is Deb Perelman’s recipe, with a few slight variations (I mainly cut back on the sugar):
lemon squares littlekokomo.comFor the crust: 
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the lemon layer: 
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into the greased baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill for about 15 minutes.
lemon squares littlekokomo.comBake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until just golden. Let cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, (you can keep the oven on).

For the lemon layer, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, just until it’s set (make sure the centre isn’t too gooey). Let cool to room temperature. Cut into rectangles and dust with confectioners’ sugar using a fine mesh sieve. Enjoy!
lemon squares littlekokomo.com

Super Energy Snack: Coconut oat chocolate chip granola bars

I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time searching for the perfect homemade granola bar recipe. Ironic, isn’t it? I knew what I wanted: something chewy, with shredded coconut and chocolate chips, but that was still filling and gave me an energy boost, not just a sugar rush. Finally, I found it, and it all made sense: the recipe was made by one of the chefs who cooked for the employees at Google. Of course, they need brain food to stay energized and really really focused! But, um, don’t we all?

From personal experience, here are a few occasions where these bars have been shared and enjoyed: staff meetings, study sessions, after a workout, breakfast on the go, second breakfast, on road trips, satiating a cranky sibling during a long drive… I’ll stop there.  Try this one out, you’ll never want store-bought granola bars again.

**I always double the batch, because they keep well and always seem to go fast. If you want to try the original portion, see this source.

Coconut-Oatmeal Bars with Chocolate Chips
Makes 32 small squares
From “Food 2.0” (DK Publishing; $25) by Charlie Ayers

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups rolled oats (I’ve been using quick oats without any issues)
1 cup unrefined light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup dried, unsweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon natural vanilla extract

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Instructions (from Charlie Ayers): Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly oil and 9X13-inch square baking pan and set aside (I use virgin coconut oil).

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl. Stir in the oats, brown sugar, coconut, and chocolate chips. Stir together the melted butter, egg, and vanilla, then add to the flour mixture and stir until just blended. Avoid mixing more than needed. Transfer to the prepared pan and level the surface.

Bake until slightly risen, golden, and just firm to the touch, about 25 minutes. Put the pan on a rack and let cool before cutting into triangular or rectangular bars or squares.

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Enjoy! And see you tomorrow when I post a DIY craft somewhat related to this!

Time-tested Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Alright guys, I know I’m not reinventing the wheel here. But I’m often asked for this recipe, and it’s pretty fool-proof, so I thought I’d share it and settle this for once and for all.

But first, here’s my ultimate time-saving tip: When you have bananas that are well-ripened, looking more brown than yellow, and you’re in denial about still eating them, put them in the freezer. This will put your mind at ease and they will keep for months.

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I first used this recipe almost a decade ago, but have changed it slightly over the years to reduce the sugar and fat content and it always turns out great. I mainly cut back on the butter and instead add a little yogurt and extra banana to keep it from being dry.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Ingredients:
¼ cup butter
¾ cup sugar (or you can even do ½)
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
¼ cup yogurt or sour cream (somewhat optional, it’ll still turn out if you don’t add them)
1 ½ to 2 cups mashed bananas (about 4-5 frozen bananas, depending on size)
2 cups flour (you can do 1 cup whole wheat, 1 cup all-purpose)
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips

optional:
¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
¼ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup ground flax seeds
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

I like a bit of texture in my bread, so I almost always add the coconut, walnuts and flax seeds. Feel free to experiment with other additions you may like, such as sunflower seeds or craisins.

Preparation (adapted from Mitzi)
Cream sugar and butter; beat in the mashed bananas, eggs, and vanilla.
Combine dry ingredients and stir into the first mixture just until moistened.
Fold in chocolate chips (and coconut, nuts, etc if you are using them) until well incorporated.
Pour batter into greased and floured 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Cover loosely with a tent of aluminum foil (very important so that it stays moist and doesn’t burn the top!). 

Bake at 325° for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for 40-45 minutes or until wooden pick inserted tests done.
Cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan and cool banana bread completely before slicing.