Chocolate Chip Espresso Bars

It is hard to believe what one can accomplish in between working a full time job and going out of town for a wedding in just two short months. I have never had a real interest in interior design but I suppose all you had to do was give me a house that is MINE (well, the banks’ for now) and someone better put a hold on my bank account stat because all my prior ridiculous frugality has gone out the window of the last rental home we will hopefully ever need.

I have certainly painted before so hooking up the family room, and first guest bedroom were easy as pie.  We saved the smallest room for last and just thought that the asinine black molding the room had would magically turn white if we painted it hard enough.  No such luck, and we weren’t feeling the whole sanding thing for hours on end.  Goodbye black molding (next will be that fan and the popcorn ceiling).

So I had to tell you all of this just to say that I needed a baking break on Sunday and made Espresso Bars.  They were a long time coming and a nice change from the typical chocolate chip cookie (though why we’d need a change from those I wouldn’t know).  I got the recipe from this website but I ignored the instant coffee part (who has instant coffee around?) and actually made a short espresso.  I knew it would create a more liquid batter and I was okay with that.  These are very buttery and moist and the ends were more of a shortbread texture (no eggs make it nice and crumbly).  I liked them, but if I ever make these again, I think I’ll subtract just a tablespoon of butter to make up for the extra liquid (this recipe could stand to have less fat, the cookie is a touch greasy).  Also, totally use these instead of chips:

And all of the sudden I feel like a pastry chef.  But I am giving you the recipe how it is because I haven’t tested it with my adaptation ideas (other than the actual espresso).  If you are looking for something that resembles a moist chocolate chip cookie bar, use the espresso, or else it’ll be more dry and crumbly.  Your choice.

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2 disasters, 1 success.

In the interest of saving money (our first mortgage payment is due July 1st, hooray) and being vaguely healthy again, I made a structured meal plan for this week that unfortunately had two giant failures and both can be attributed to Rachael Ray.  I loathe her voice, I detest her show, yet I still am intrigued by her mish-mashy concoctions and can’t resist trying them.  I believe this week has been the universe’s intervention between us and I.AM.DONE.

Recipe #1: Crispy Oven-Fried Turkey Patties with Bourbon BBQ Sauce.

We have bourbon in the house that nobody drinks, and the organic extra lean ground beef (I don’t typically do ground turkey) was half off at the grocery store so this seemed to be a perfect place to start.  I don’t know if my taste buds were just accustomed to the bottled barbecue sugar bombs, but this sauce was just disgusting and I made it exactly how the recipe called for.  It was pointless and ridiculous to egg wash and bread the patties because they didn’t end up crispy at all.  This meal was overly superfluous, but cost us next to nothing, so the sauce went in the garbage and the leftover patties were had traditionally with cheese and on plain buns.

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I made Cookie Dough Cheesecake.

I feel fonder than I expected of my new kitchen.  While it’s smaller in square footage than my old kitchen and not as cool and trendy, it has AT LEAST twice the storage and many efficient drawers and pull out fixtures that help keep me organized and me being organized = happy and emotionally stable Raychel.

The white appliances don’t even bother me; they’re actually better than my rental’s bottom of the line GE stainless steel crap.  The new fridge we were forced to buy doesn’t hurt either- sometimes I open it just to stare into the sparkling clean 25 cubic foot abyss.

It has been too long since I made magic with an oven.   So I decided to pick an outrageous recipe to make for my LifeGroup meeting tonight (there are many foodies that will eat everything and conveniently prevent me from consuming every crumb before it is even cut).  I made a fantastic decision.

New photo background because I am still in awe of the fact that I have a pool.  I KNOW that you want this recipe, so here it is.  Make it for someone you need to cheer up, fatten up, impress, entertain, or for JUST YOURSELF this weekend.

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A Sweet for this Week

I haven’t baked in awhile, and while my waistline certainly does NOT reflect my lack of in-home sweet consumption, I caught the bug bad this past weekend.  I closed my eyes and picked from my “baking” folder on my bookmarks bar and went to town on Pinch Of Yum‘s Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake.

I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of it at first, but I was pleased with the fact that we had ALL of the ingredients in the house which would not add on to our already limited grocery bill.  Game on.

This is a dense vanilla cake with a thin cheesecake layer topped with streusel, making it feel breakfast-y and appropriate for any hour of the day as seen below.

I will neither confirm nor deny that this was our pan only 17 hours after this cake came out of the oven.  I suggest you hold off on making this until you have house guests or any situation that would include multiple people consuming the entirety of it in one night so that one is limited to one or two pieces only 🙂

One disclosure I’d like to include is that when I made this I only had a half a block of cream cheese (4 oz vs. the 8 oz the recipe calls for) so I just added all I had left and this is reflected in the nutrition facts beneath the recipe.  I also used light sour cream.  If you’re not worried about extra calories and only want more deliciousness, use the full 8oz of cream cheese you will have a thicker cheesecake type layer and it will surely be delightful.  Also, pay attention to the “serving size” which is only 1/12th of the cake.   Take a look at that pan and tell me if you would only want 1/12th of that.

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New & Improved (and still cheap).

I feel like I never write a post on Wednesdays.  If you know me by now, then you know that I cook huge meals that last for days on end, which is probably why I have nothing to show for myself on this midweek day.  My meal plan was a bit different this week, as I put three recipes on the list; I usually do two and then free for all fridays/saturdays which means spending $$, and spending money is back to being NO MORE in this household.  Hint- it is because we have saved up our whole lives to buy a house and are slowing kissing every dollar goodbye as we see it being squandered for inspections, appraisals, re-inspections, pest inspections, legal fees, everything you can think of.  The joys of life.

Please tell me what is making you happy this Wednesday. I am happy about discovering this new Black Bean/Rice recipe came on my radar last week. It is definitely a more complex version of a simple black beans and rice and has those polarizing ingredients that people either love or HATE WITH A PASSION (cilantro, avocado). I had gone back and forth with trying this, as being poor in college and in real life, I could have turned into a bowl of black beans and rice at one point I was consuming it so much. But I gave this one a chance and am never looking back..

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