everyday food made simple

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In case any of you read up on my dilemma of Apple Watch vs. Fitbit from the previous post, I have eliminated one contender – I’ve decided that I’m going to wait on the Apple Watch until it’s market-tested and I have read up on a few reviews and recommendations on people’s opinions on them. Plus I’m sure as technology advances, its future generations will probably be more evolved and have more advanced features that I would want my ideal smart watch to have.

But in the meantime, I’m debating between the Fitbit Charge HR or the Fitbit Surge. I’m also thinking about getting a gym membership at my local 24/7 gym. Advice or suggestions are welcome as always!

So about these brownies… They’re made with dark chocolate, which contain healthy antioxidants. And since antioxidants are known to lower risks of health problems, these brownies are therefore good for you. That correlation totally made sense, right? So you’re welcome – go ahead and have another brownie!

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These brownies are so fudgy and delicious! They’re not dense in a it’s-stuck-to-the-roof-of-my-mouth-now-I-need-a-glass-of-milk kind of way, and they’re not light and airy like any ordinary brownie either. The tops are baked to crispy perfection. They still have just the right amount of denseness and chew to them, retaining the texture of a good ol’ fashioned brownie… with a nice thick layer of Biscoff swirls on top, of course. Because Biscoff makes everything taste better.

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I only used 60% bittersweet dark chocolate for this recipe to offset the sweetness of the sugars and the spread, giving these brownies just the right amount of sweetness while not being overly sweet (read: you can eat more than one!). Don’t worry, although it’s “bittersweet” chocolate, you won’t taste a single hint of bitterness in these at all. I promise.

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I was having a wonderful photography day, until tragedy struck. I had more plans for these brownies but I was flustered and upset and wanted to cry over spilled milk, so I decided it was time to clean up and put the camera away.

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Fret not, my friends! No brownies were harmed during this tragedy.

[sigh] the foodblogger life can be rough sometimes.

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fudgy biscoff-swirled brownies
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  2. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  3. 2 cups dark chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli's 60% bittersweet chocolate baking chips)
  4. 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  5. 4 eggs, at room temperature
  6. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  7. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  8. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  9. 1/2-1 cup creamy Biscoff spread
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a 9x13" baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Spray generously with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Place sugars in your electric mixer's mixing bowl. Stir and set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt butter and chocolate chips over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and pour into your mixing bowl with the sugars. Mix on low speed until combined. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and add in the vanilla and salt. Then add in the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, increasing the speed to low-medium until everything is thoroughly incorporated. Pour batter into the prepared pan and set aside.
  4. In another small saucepan, melt the Biscoff spread over low heat (or melt in a microwave in 15-30 second increments). Pour over the pan and create swirls by running a butter knife through the batter.
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  6. Brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.
  7. Makes one 9x13" pan
Adapted from Biscoff
Adapted from Biscoff
SIMPLE EVERYDAY FOOD http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
Recipe adapted from Biscoff

© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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Lately I’ve been thinking about getting a Fitbit Charge HR. I already own a FitBit Flex, but I’m really digging the additional functions the Charge HR provides (heart rate monitoring, time display, automatic sleep detection, etc). But as I added it into my shopping cart and typed in my credit card information one day, I suddenly remembered that the iWatch is scheduled to come out sometime this year, and that’s when the internal debate began…

I’m sort of an Apple geek – all my electronic toys have the little half-bitten apple logo on it. When I initially heard of this iWatch, I laughed and vowed I would never need a wrist gadget that did a lot of the things my phone could do. “Why do I need a watch like that when I can just use my Fitbit?” Buuuut… after reading all about its features, I’m kind of ashamed to admit that I have since changed my mind and I now want a iWatch, especially since it also contains a pretty cool health & fitness app within.

Question: Do any of you guys have the new Fitbit Charge HR? Do you recommend it? Are you planning on getting the iWatch when it comes out? Why or why not? I’d like to hear your opinions!

Maybe the reason why I’m thinking so much about activity trackers is because I may have accidentally ate a few too many of these Samoa cookie chocolate cups.. they’re little chocolate cups filled with gooey sweet and salty caramel coconut mixture and a bite-sized piece of shortbread cookie, all in this little chocolate cup… and oh boy are they dangerous!

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They don’t require any sort of mixer, and they don’t require any baking. It may seem like a long process to make them, but there’s a lot of waiting around in between steps, which is perfect for getting miscellaneous things done around the house… or spending some time on Pinterest…. or finding things to buy online… or taking a few of those silly BuzzFeed quizzes…

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First you melt the chocolate and spread the chocolate around in the liners so it covers everysingleinch of it. Freeze those babies for half an hour (this would be the time to do those things we previously talked about). Then add a little bit of the caramel coconut mixture on the bottom of each cup and top with a little bite of the shortbread cookie.

Are you still following me?

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Top the cookies with more caramel coconut and sprinkle the tops with some sea salt, if the salty-sweet combo is your kind of thing. Freeze some more (patience, grasshopper!).

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Then top it up with more melted chocolate and garnish with toasted coconut flakes. Freeze a little bit longer (almost there!), then EAT and DEVOUR!

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I will not be responsible for the amount of chocolate cups you eat in one single sitting. Nor will I be responsible if you end up with a stomach ache after eating half the pan… just sayin’.

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But just look at that ooey gooey caramel-y deliciousness! I mean, how can you resist?!

I apologize for the over abundance of pictures…

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samoa cookie chocolate cups
Print
Ingredients
  1. 2 and 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
  2. 1 and 1/4 cups sweetened coconut flakes
  3. 1 cup caramel syrup
  4. 6 shortbread cookie squares, cut into quarters
  5. Sea salt, for sprinkling, if desired
Instructions
  1. Line a 24 mini muffin pan with liners and set aside.
  2. Using a double boiler, melt 2 cups of the chocolate chips, stirring occasionally until smooth. Drop 1-2 teaspoons of melted chocolate into each liner, spreading the chocolate up the sides of the liner using a pastry brush or a spoon. Make sure the sides are nicely coated. Freeze for 30 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, toast the coconut flakes in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Once you notice the flakes are starting to brown, stir constantly until most of the coconut flakes turn golden brown in color. Be careful not to burn them! Remove from heat and reserve 1/4 cup for garnish.
  4. Combine the caramel sauce and the remaining cup of coconut flakes in a medium bowl and mix well. Remove the frozen chocolate cups from the freezer and spoon ~1/2 teaspoon of the caramel/coconut mixture on the bottom of each cup, top with a quarter piece of the shortbread cookie, then top with ~1 teaspoon of the caramel mixture. Sprinkle tops with a little bit of sea salt (if desired). Freeze for another 30 minutes.
  5. Melt remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate chips over a double boiler (or in the microwave) until completely melted and smooth. Remove chocolate cups from freezer, and cover each cup with a thin layer of the melted chocolate, smoothing the tops with a spoon if needed. Garnish with the reserved toasted coconut flakes. Freeze for an additional 15 minutes. Chocolate cups can be stored either at room temperature, in the fridge, or in the freezer in an airtight container, depending on your preference!
  6. Makes 24 chocolate cups
Adapted from The Housewife In Training
SIMPLE EVERYDAY FOOD http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
Recipe adapted from The Housewife In Training

© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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Warning: lots and lots of cute puppy pictures ahead! :)

 My baby boy turned THREE (!!!) a few days ago! Oh man, where did the time go?!

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It’s been a fun-filled year for Mr. Bentley. He discovered the tastiness of blueberries, popcorn, cheese, and ice cream.

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He still loves to be outside in the summer – I think if it were up to him, he’d be outside every single minute when it’s at least 60 degrees. But he did realize how wonderful it is to just lay outside and soak up the sun, and that not every single minute needs to be about running around.

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He’s mellowed out a bit since last year, but there are still days where all he wants to do is be goofy and crazy.

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He loves looking through Sur la Table catalogs that we receive in the mail…

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He loves staring at us while we eat at the dinner table…

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And his new (annoying) naughty habit involves trying to rip socks off of our feet. For some reason it has to be dirty socks. You can throw a pile of clean, fresh-out-of-the-dryer socks at him and it wouldn’t phase him. But a pair of socks on your feet? He’ll rip those off and run around the house with them like it’s some sort of game. I’ve even caught him multiple times with his head in my hamper, digging for socks.

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Considering how much I love this boy of mine, it only made sense that I made him something (with love!) for his birthday. These turned out more like muffins instead of the cupcakes I initially envisioned, so I scratched the frosting idea. I don’t think Bentley minded, because he snatched one off the baking sheet right in front of me as I was taking pictures of them!

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This recipe is super simple to make and only requires a few ingredients that you probably already have sitting around in your house. It also only requires a few mixing bowls, a whisk, and a spatula… Add ingredients in bowl, mix, spoon into muffin tins, and bake – no rocket science here!

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The batter only yields 6 muffins, which is a perfect amount! Bentley’s sharing a few with his friends, because he certainly doesn’t need all 6 muffins to himself, and it’s always more fun to share food with friends. And like I said last year, if your dog has certain dietary restrictions, please consult your veterinarian before making these.

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And if you want a little frosting on top of these for your furry friend, you can definitely use the easy frosting recipe I used last year.

It’s been a great three years and I can’t imagine life without him. Thank you for being such a great puppy, Bentley! We love you!

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peanut butter & carrot doggie muffins
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  2. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  3. 1 large egg, at room temperature
  4. 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  5. 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  6. 1/4 cup honey
  7. 1 cup shredded carrots
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 6 muffin tins with cupcake liners and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flour and baking soda. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the egg, peanut butter, vegetable oil, and honey. Whisk until thoroughly combined, then stir in the shredded carrots. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.
  3. Divide batter evenly between the prepared muffin tins and bake for 25-27 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool prior to serving. Muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
  4. Makes 6 muffins
Notes
  1. * If your dog has certain dietary restrictions, please consult your veterinarian before making these.
  2. ** And please do not feed your dog all 6 of these muffins in one setting! :)
Adapted from Romp Rescue
Adapted from Romp Rescue
SIMPLE EVERYDAY FOOD http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
Recipe adapted from Romp Rescue

© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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First things first – I’ve become a publisher on Yummly! You can now find my official Publisher Page here (or simply click on the Certified Yummly button on my sidebar). And as you scroll past the recipe below, you’ll also notice that my social media sharing buttons have changed! I added a new Plug-in to SEF so now you can “Yum” my recipes and add it your Recipe Box on Yummly along with all your other “Yum’d” recipes… you know, for convenience and all. I started using Yummly a few months ago and it’s now one of my go-to places when I’m looking for dinner inspirations. They even send you weekly recommendations based on what you’ve “Yum’d” in the past! I’m super excited to be part of this new social media sharing platform, so bare with me as I get my Yummly page updated… in the meantime, keep Yum-ing!

The past few months, I’ve been hooked on the Lizzy Gardner series, written by T.R. Ragan. In case you’re not familiar, it’s a series of four books (so far) that centers around a private investigator Lizzy Gardner and the cases that she somehow always gets herself, as well as the people around her, involved in. The books aren’t particularly deep and complex, and the plots are always somewhat predictable (there are murders, Lizzy gets involved, she ends up figuring out who did it, yada yada yada). However, the author does do a good job at keeping the reader’s attention and the novels are pretty easy to read.

It started with spending 99 cents on the first book, then realizing I was able to borrow the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th book for free through my Amazon Prime membership. So for the past few months, I’ve been borrowing the next book in the series the first day of the month, finishing the book within 10 days, and impatiently waiting for the next 20 days until I can borrow the next book. It doesn’t help that the author seems to looooove ending her books on cliffhangers, because when I realized the 4th book was over (less than a week of starting it), I may have slammed my Kindle on my pillow a few times and yelled “NOOOOOO!!!!!!” (ask Brian about it – I’m pretty sure he jumped and thought I was crazy).

Initially I was going to wait it out and borrow the next book next month, but I just couldn’t wait it out any longer, so I broke down and went on Amazon with the intent of spending a few dollars and buying the next book….. only to realize that it won’t be released until February 3rd. Ahhhhhh! So much for that plan. Guess I’ll have to wait in the end anyway. Have I mentioned I hate waiting?

Okay, back to food. Because I’m sure you didn’t come on here to read about book reviews.

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Can I just say these buffalo ranch chicken cups are so ridiculously deliciously easy to make? I even like them more than my mini taco cups, which happen to be the #1 most popular recipe on my site. That’s right, they’re that good.

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These bite-sized appetizers are so easy to assemble and they pack so much flavor in just one bite, you won’t be able to eat just one! The light, crispy, flaky phyllo (or “fillo”) shells are filled with a creamy chicken filling with large chunks of chicken and a slight hint of heat, baked to crispy perfection.

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So in case you’re already looking for Super Bowl party finger foods for next month, you should most definitely add these to your list… your guests will thank you! And even if you decide to eat the whole pan yourself, that’s okay too. We don’t judge here in the food blogging world.

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buffalo ranch chicken cups
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1/4 cup light ranch dressing
  2. 1 tablespoon Frank's Red Hot sauce (more or less depending on taste)
  3. 3 oz low fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  4. One generous 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  5. 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro (plus more for garnish, if desired)
  6. About 10 pieces of Tyson's Any'tizers Buffalo Chicken Wyngz, roughly chopped
  7. One package pre-baked fillo (phyllo) shells
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the ranch dressing and hot sauce. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, cilantro, and 2 tablespoons of the ranch mixture. With a spoon, mix ingredients together until thoroughly combined. Gently stir in the chicken bits and mix some more.
  4. Place the fillo shells into an ungreased mini muffin tin, and generously spoon the chicken mixture into the shells. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the fillo shells are golden brown.
  5. Drizzle the remaining ranch mixture over the chicken bites and sprinkle with additional cilantro, if desired. Serve immediately.
  6. Makes 15 mini cups
Adapted from Lauren's Latest
Adapted from Lauren's Latest
SIMPLE EVERYDAY FOOD http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
Recipe adapted from Lauren’s Latest

© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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Happy 2015 everyone! Did everyone have a good holiday season? I felt like everything after Thanksgiving of last year was all a blur. We had our turkey, we had our leftovers, and the next thing I knew, Christmas somehow crept up on us, then BAM! it was over. Just like that.

Life really got the best of us this year because we didn’t even have time to put up our Christmas tree. Tragic, right? At least we did hang our stockings and buy ourselves a wreath to hang on our door. I did make some Christmas cookies, listened to some Christmas jingles on the radio, Christmas shopped for Brian and Bentley, and ate my fair share in all things peppermint chocolate. So all in all, I guess it was a pretty good holiday season – simple and low-key.

As we waved 2014 good-bye and welcomed in 2015, here’s just a few of my accomplishments that occurred in the past year:

  • One of my new year resolutions for last year was to be better at keeping photo memories of our lives. I’m glad to say that I stuck to this all year and have an over-stuffed Project Life binder to prove it! It’s been fun capturing little everyday things, developing them into tangible photographs, and jotting down little notes and memories into my Project Life binder! I’ll definitely be continuing this for years and years to come.
  • I also managed to organize all my recipes into binders and categorized them according to the type of dishes they fall into. For This project actually started a few years ago and the number of recipes I started to collect grew so much that I actually had to buy separate binders for individual categories of food! I now have a separate binder for cakes and cupcakes, then another one for bars/brownies/blondies and cookies, one for all things s’mores and peppermint+chocolate, and a separate one for Thanksgiving alone!

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  • This year was also the year of culinary firsts for me – I learned how to make cake pops, a three-layered cake, homemade salted caramel, Swiss meringue buttercream, homemade marshmallows, royal icing-decorated Christmas cookies, meringue cookies, homemade ice cream, and homemade apple butter. And I successfully carved a beautiful turkey with a surgeon’s precision on Thanksgiving.

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  • I got LASIK! You can read about my experience here.
  • I officially became a certified veterinary technician and landed myself a full-time job at one of the best hospitals, less than two months after graduation. I now work with some amazingly talented individuals who teach me something new every day.

So there you have it, my friends! Here’s to an equally amazing 2015! xo

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