October 2, 2008

Operation Baking GALS: Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies and Chocolate Chip Cookies Bars

bakingGALS

It's that time again...Time to send off an Operation Baking GALS package! This time around I was part of Team We'll Eat Everything hosted by Lauren of I'll Eat You.

First off let's talk a little post office "humor" or perhaps lack there of. I went to a small local post office that is near my house, but has a larger parking lot and better layout than the one that is a mile closer. I often go to this post office, in fact I've mailed both of my other Operation Baking GALS packages from this location with no problems. They've always given me the APF/FPO rate and things were hunky dorey. Today however I got a guy who had absolutely no clue!

I had my box taped up/addressed, I had my forms filled out, all I needed to do was pay for the shipping and things would be perfect. The first indication that something was amiss is when he took a pen and wrote the country I was sending the package to on the package itself. This is a big no no. You only put the APO/FPO address on the box for security reasons. They ship the package to the base and then the base ships it out to wherever the soldier happens to be located. I mentioned to him that I had never had to do that before and he said it was a requirement so I figured perhaps the regulations had changed so I let it slide.

The next indication was when he told me in all seriousness it was going to cost close to $70 to ship the package! So I asked him why and he told me that was just how it was. I mentioned how in the past when I had shipped these packages it was with the special rate and he said that was impossible. He hadn't stamped anything or affixed anything to the box so I told him "No thanks!" and promptly drove the mile up the road to the other post office and told them what happened. They not only gave me the right rate, they marked out the area where he had written the country and had their post master call the other post office and ream him out for not having a clue. In all honesty I felt slightly sorry for the guy, though part of me still felt vindication for being right! ;o)

I meant to take a picture of the box before I sealed it up, but I forgot. On top of the batch of brownies and cookies bars I also added in some dried pears, fruit snacks and some candy too. Anyway, that's neither here nor there...Let's talk some recipes shall we! ;o)

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownie

What You'll Need For The Peanut Butter Swirled Brownies:
6 ounces of baking chocolate
2 sticks of butter
1 cup of organic cane sugar
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 cup of cocoa
4 eggs
1 cup of buttermilk
1 tablespoon of vanilla
2 cups of peanut butter chips
3/4 cup of peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a medium sized pot over low heat melt chocolate, butter and sugar until completely melted. Don't let it come to a boil or simmer, you just want to melt the ingredients. Once melted remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl stir together flour, sea salt and cocoa until well mixed. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl whisk together eggs, buttermilk and vanilla until well mixed. Add this mixture into the dry mixture, along with the cooled chocolate mixture and stir until completely incorporated. Stir in peanut butter chips and mix well.

Pour batter into a 13 X 9 inch pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray and spread out until batter evenly covers the pan. (Note: Batter will be thick.) Drop dollops of peanut butter over the top of the batter and use a knife to swirl it into the batter. Bake for 25-30 minutes until batter is firm, yet still fudgy. Let cool completely and then slice into squares.

Notes: I tested these out by making a batch and sending them to work with Jamison first. They seemed to really like them! They were firm enough that was able to vacuum seal them before sending them. Hopefully they'll hold up!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

What You'll Need For The Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars:
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 cup of natural brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 - 11.5 ounce package of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a large bowl cream together butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Add salt, baking powder and baking soda and stir to mix. Slowly add flour and mix until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips to mix.

Spread dough into a 13 X 9 inch dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray and bake for 25-30 minutes until cookie mixture sets. Cool and cut into squares.

Notes: You can use what ever type of chocolate chips you fancy. You could also add in a cup of some sort of chopped nut if you prefer.

Posted by Dianne at 1:26 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 26, 2008

Operation Baking GALS Mission Two Team Barefoot: Peanut Butter Brownies and Mint Chocolate Chip Bars

bakingGALS

Over at Operation Baking GALS it's time for Mission Two and I'm on Team Barefoot this go around! I decided to send a couple of things again just as I did last time. This time I decided to make some Peanut Butter Brownies and some Mint Chocolate Chip Bars to send. I sent my package out Saturday morning so hopefully they'll arrive soon!

If you are interested in getting involved in Operation Baking GALS yourself check out the website and for now why don't you try one of the recipes for yourself? What are you waiting for??

Peanut Butter Brownies

What You'll Need for the Peanut Butter Brownies:
4 ounces of baking chocolate
1 stick of butter
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 teaspoons of baking powder
4 eggs
1 cup of buttermilk
1 cup peanut butter (Note: Crunchy or smooth will work. I used smooth.)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Melt baking chocolate with butter in either a double boiler or in the microwave until smooth. Let cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl stir together flour, salt and baking powder until completely incorporated. Add chocolate mixture, eggs and buttermilk and stir until completely mixed. Stir in peanut butter until incorporated and spread batter into a 13 X 9 inch pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.

Peanut Butter Brownies: Ready to Bake

Bake for 25-35 minutes until brownies are fudgy. Let cool completely and slice into squares. Store in an airtight container.

Notes: If you leave out the peanut butter you just have your basic brownie, but the peanut butter gives the brownie such a wonderful flavor.

Mint Chocolate Chip Bars

What You'll Need for the Mint Chocolate Chip Bars:
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 1/2 cups of organic cane sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 1/4 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 - 10 ounce package of mint chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 F. (Note: If you were using this dough for cookies instead of bars, you would want to chill the dough for at least 4 hours before baking, but since you are baking like you would brownies you can skip the chilling.)

In the bowl of a mixer cream together butter, sugar and eggs. Add salt and baking soda and mix until incorporated. Add flour slowly and mix until dough forms. Stir or mix in chocolate chips and spread the dough out into a 13 X 9 inch pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and done through.

Mint Chocolate Chips Bars: Baked

Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature and then slice into squares. Store in an airtight container.

Notes: This is just an adaptation of the basic Toll House Cookie recipe. You could use regular chocolate chips and add nuts if you liked.

Posted by Dianne at 7:34 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 3, 2008

Operation Baking GALS: Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies and Trail Mix Too!

bakingGALS

So as I mentioned the other day when Susan of She's Becoming Doughmesstic asked me to help out with Operation Baking GALS and send a care package to her cousin stationed overseas I said yes at once and I knew exactly what I wanted to send...Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies, that trust me if I didn't tell you they didn't have flour in them you'd never know! I knew they would ship well and while I was at it I also decided to whip up a big batch of Trail Mix! I put together the trail mix the next day and baked up the cookies on Sunday afternoon. Monday morning Alexis and I made our way to the post office and off the package went with a little note to Susan's cousin as to who I was and why I was sending him stuff and now I'm going to share both recipes with you!

Let's start first with the peanut butter cookies...

As I've mentioned before we recently discovered Jamison can not have gluten and that has been a big adjustment and many time gluten free baked goods leave a lot to be desired and I mean A LOT! The other day I wanted to make Jamison some peanut butter cookies and a friend of mine told me a simple recipe that was gluten free and mentioned that you would never know that there wasn't any gluten present...

In all honesty my first reaction was "Yeah right!" quickly followed after I saw the recipe by "There is no way that is going to work and make cookies!"

I dubiously mixed up the "dough" and was extremely surprised that it actually looked like cookie dough. I was equally as surprised that it came together at all, but hey it did! So I scooped out balls of "dough", placed them on a baking sheet and put them in the oven and low and behold cookies did come out! And when I let them cool for a minute and actually tasted one I was shocked. I mean taste wise I expected them to be OK...The ingredients weren't all that out there and were good in and of themselves, but I was most shocked by the texture...You would never know there wasn't flour in these cookies! They were amazing! The version I made for Jamison was a bit different than the one I made to send...I'll talk more about that in the notes below, but for now let's get started!

Operation Baking Gals: Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

What You'll Need:
3 cups of organic sugar
3 eggs
2 cups of creamy peanut butter
1 cup of chunky peanut butter
1 cup of chopped peanuts
3 tablespoons of vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Operation Baking Gals: Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

In a large bowl cream together sugar, eggs and peanut butters until smooth. Stir in chopped nuts to incorporate and then add vanilla and stir to mix. (Note: These cookies don't "spread" out when they bake so you can put them rather close together as seen above. Be sure to leave a little room for the next step.) Place cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes until slightly browned.

Operation Baking Gals: Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies: Baked

Once cookies are baked take the back of a fork and gently press down to flatten slightly. Let cook and then store in an air tight container.

Operation Baking Gals: Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Variation for Jamison:

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Using the same instructions as above mix 2 cups of creamy peanut butter, 2 cups of sugar, 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons of vanilla and 1 package of milk chocolate chips and bake the same way. Once baked take the back of spatula and flatten the cookies slightly. Let cookies cool and store in an airtight container.

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Note: I didn't send the variation with chocolate chips because I was afraid it would be too hot for the chocolate chips to survive the journey and they would just melt into a big old mess. According to Susan I don't think it mattered as they enjoyed the regular peanut butter version just fine. :o)

Now let's talk a little trail mix!

Trail Mix

Trail mix is basically just a mix of dried fruits and nuts as you well know. You can add anything you like. This is my version, though I did add in one ingredient that many like that I'm not a fan of as you'll see below.

What You'll need for the Trail Mix:
1/2 a pound of roasted sunflower seeds
1/2 a pound of raisins
1/2 a pound of sultanas
1/2 a pound of dried cranberries (Note: If this had been for me I would have omitted the cranberries...I'm not a fan. Though it you can always pick around what you don't like too! ;oP)
1/2 a pound of roasted peanuts
1/2 a pound of roasted cashews
1/2 a pound of sliced almonds
1/2 a pound of Brazil nuts
1 cup of cocoa nibs
1 - 2.5 ounce container of Just Cherries (Note: These are just dried cherries. If you can't find the brand then any dried cherry will work.)
1 2.5 ounce container of Just Bananas (Note: Again any dried banana chip will work.)

Mix together ingredients in a large bowl until incorporated. Store in an airtight container.

Trail Mix

How easy is that? And the trail mix is gluten free too!

So there you have my additions to this round of Operation Baking GALS! Until next time.

Posted by Dianne at 12:18 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack