Sunday, July 31, 2011

M&M Samoa Blondies

Let's go back in time 12 or so years, shall we?

The Time: New Year's Eve, 1999.

The Setting: My family's house, for the annual family-friendly NYE extravaganza.

The Players: Me, Katie, 16 years old; and our good friend Kirsten, 14 years old.

K&K circa 1994, five years before the millenium
The Backstory: Kirsten and I love M&Ms. It's our thing.

The Proposal:

"Hey, Kirst! You know how M&Ms are the official candy of the millenium because of how two Ms equals '2,000' in roman numerals?"


"Well, what if, to celebrate the new millenium, you and I ate 2,000 M&Ms before morning?!"

(I pause here, readers, to let the magnitude of that proposal sink in. But only for a moment, because I don't remember Kirst hesitating much before she said...)


And then I said, "yeah" like she did, but with a question mark after it. Because really, readers, you'd have to be a little crazy to try to eat 2,000 M&Ms and I wasn't sure it was really such a good idea.

But Kirst was as crazy as I was, or at least as crazy about M&Ms as I was, and that, combined with all the caffeine we'd already consumed, was impairing both our judgements.

We furiously gathered all the M&Ms in the house and started counting.

"1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10!" Crunch.

"11 12 13 14 15 16!" Chomp.

Toss, catch, crunch, "17!"

Toss, catch, chomp, "18!"

Pop. "19!"

Pop. "20!"

And it went on like that for a few hours. As other party goers caught on to what we were doing, some cheered us on, and some told us we were downright stupid.

Around 2am, it turned out the latter group was right, and things got a little ugly.  Because dear readers, no matter how much a person loves candy coated chocolate that melts in your mouth and not in your hand, nobody can eat 2,000 M&Ms in one night.

Kirst and I called it quits at 900-something M&Ms between the two of us and rang in the new millenium with upset bellies and really bad sugar headaches.

But even as early as New Year's Day, we knew our crazy plan had been completely worth it, for we had made a commitment to something we loved and for better or for worse, we came out of it better friends and with a fabulous story to tell.

A few weeks ago, Becky and I witnessed Kirsten commit to something she loves even more than M&Ms (at least I'm pretty sure)--her fiance, Zach. 

I considered attempting to eat 2,000 M&Ms again to celebrate K&Z's special day, but thought my inevitable rainbow-colored vomit might distract from the celebration, so Becky and I chose to make these M&M Samoa Blondies instead. They were really easy to throw together, looked festive on a picnic table, and were well received by weary travelers. Kirsten's matron of honor even tells me they made a great breakfast the morning of the wedding :-)

Kirsten and Zach - It's clear you are already the best of friends and have many wonderful stories to tell. When people say you're crazy for committing to something as daunting as loving one person with all your heart for the rest of your lives, may you remember New Year's Eve 1999 and that sometimes, for better or for worse, the craziest and most impossible ideas are the best ones of all.

With Love,

M&M Samoa Blondies
Adapted from

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 (12 oz.) bag mini M&Ms (with a few reserved for the top)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13-inch pan with foil and spray lightly with nonstick spray. 
  2. Heat butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until it browns and begins to smell nutty (watch it closely so it doesn’t burn). Allow the butter to cool slightly.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the browned butter and sugars.
  4. Stir in eggs, vanilla and salt.
  5. Add the flour and stir just until combined.
  6. Add the coconut and M&Ms and stir to combine.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula or wet fingers. Sprinkle a few additional M&Ms on top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Let the blondies cool completely before turning them out onto a cutting board and slicing into squares.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Coldbuster Smoothie

Breaking news, bakers of the world! Come and see it for yourself - the world's largest, hottest, oven! What's this amazing new product called, you ask? Why...New York City, of course!

We're ROASTING out here.

Seriously. If we had a car, we'd be baking chocolate chip cookies galore. Alas, no car, no cookies. :-(

We've been trying to beat the heat by drinking our cool in the form of fabulous, freezing smoothies. But the recipe I want to share with you today is actually not inspired by this miraculous-yet-miserable heat wave. It's a celebration.

Meet Christie & Charles. Tomorrow, they'll have been married one month! Happy one-month-iversary!

Kate and I met Christie at school in 6th Grade Choir. Apart, we were three wee, shrimpy little things - one soprano, one second soprano, one alto. But put us together, and bam! - you've got beautiful three part harmony. (Yes, yes. Super cheesy. But Christie wouldn't mind, so I'm not apologizing. :-)

We've been friends ever since, and we've shared a lot in the past 17 years. From matching Halloween costumes (cutest Care Bears ever), to just a little bit of fame (at our school, Show Choir kids were popular), to our deep faith and passion for liturgical dance, you might say we're three cookies cut with the same cookie cutter. Hehe.

Lookin' awesome in our sequin Show Choir vests!

But back to the smoothie. You see, I blame Christie's mom for my addiction to these cool and semi-healthy treats. It was 1996, and Christie, Katie, and I had just finished a "gig" as Dancing Fairy Princesses, and by "gig", I mean we taught a bunch of little kids a dance at a birthday party while wearing fabulous purple lyrical dresses and crowns made out of that star garland stuff. We were totally cool.

Anyways, on the way back to Christie's house, her mom asked if we wanted to stop at Jamba Juice (which had just changed it's name from Juice Club). There are three things I remember about what happened next:

  1. Christie's mom insisted I get the Coldbuster smoothie, to combat the sniffles I was apparently suffering from;
  2. That smoothie was one of the most wonderful things I had ever tasted; and
  3. On the walkway up to the house, the bottom of my cup just FELL OUT.

Kate adds this anecdote to her memory of that day: "Christie's mom made me and Christie split the rest of our smoothies with Becca, since hers was all over the sidewalk. That was totally not fair!"

But they did share their smoothies with me. Because that's what friends are for.

So this homemade Coldbuster is for you Christie, in celebration of our friendship, and in honor of this next exciting chapter in your life with Charles. May your life together be filled with happiness, health, and love! Cheers!


Coldbuster Smoothie
Inspired by Jamba Juice
Makes approximately 24 ounces

2 generous scoops peach frozen yogurt or orange sherbet
1 large banana, sliced and frozen
1 cup frozen peaches
4 ice cubes
3/4 to 1 cup orange juice

  1. Place all ingredients except orange juice in blender or food processor.
  2. Pulse a few times to break up ice cubes and frozen fruit. (Note: You may wish to microwave the frozen peaches for about 15 seconds to thaw them just slightly.)
  3. Turn blender on, then pour orange juice through hole in top of blender. Blend until smooth.
  4. Pour into a glass, grab a straw, and enjoy!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Butterbeer, Chocolate Wands, and Pumpkin Pasties: Harry Potter treats for a fond farewell

Becky, the Music Man, and I gathered with a friend last night to watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 before we see Part 2 this evening. And what would a Harry Potter movie night be without Harry Potter themed snacks?

We made Chocolate Wands, Pumpkin Pasties, and Butterbeer. Of course, none of these things actually appear in Deathly Hallows. If we were truly sticking to the themes of Book 7, we'd be more likely to make edible Horcruxes.  I can see it now - Marvolo Gaunt Donut Rings, Gummi Worm Naginis, Chocolate Lockets, and Helga Hufflepuff-Pastry Cups.

But seriously - who wants to eat a part of Voldemort's soul?  So we'll stick to snacks from the earlier, happier installments, thank you very much!

All three of these recipes are incredibly easy. The only one that actually involves baking is the Pumpkin Pasties, and even those can be ultra-semi-homemade. 

So fear not, young witches, wizards, and Muggles. While we say goodbye to Harry and the gang on the big screen this weekend, we can always return to the kitchen (and the books!) to recreate the magic we have come to love so dearly.


Our version of Butterbeer is a cream soda float with butterscotch flavoring. Since all witches and wizards at our gathering were of age, we used butterscotch schnapps, but you could certainly stir in butterscotch sauce to get the same flavor for the underage wizards.

Per mug:
1 small scoop vanilla ice cream
1 oz butterscotch schnapps, or butterscotch ice cream topping or sauce
cream soda

Chill mugs in freezer. Scoop ice cream into mug. Pour schnapps and a small amount of cream soda into mug and stir to dissolve most of the ice cream and create the signature Butterbeer foam. Add cream soda to fill mug.

Chocolate Wands
1 package pretzel rods
1 cup chocolate chips

Melt chocolate chips in a mug in microwave on high in 30 second intervals. Dip pretzel rods in chocolate, sprinkle with sprinkles. Place wands in cups or mugs to harden.

Pumpkin Pasties
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 15-ounce can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 2/3 cups evaporated milk (1 12-ounce can)
Pam or butter for greasing casserole dish
9-ounce pie crust pastry (enough for two single standard pie crusts) (our favorite recipe here)

Make filling*:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with non-stick spray.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs and sugar together. Stir in pumpkin, salt, and spices. Add evaporated milk and mix well.

3. Pour filling into prepared casserole dish. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Keep oven door closed and reduce temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 45 minutes or until table knife inserted in center of dish comes out clean. Cool filling completely on a wire rack.

Make pasties:
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. 

5. Make or purchase pie crust pastry. Roll pastry thin and cut into circles approximately 4 inches in diameter. Put a spoonful of the cool pumpkin mixture towards one side of the center of the circle. Fold crust over filling and firmly crimp edges closed. With a paring knife, cut three small slits in the top for venting. Place on a greased cookie sheet.

6. Bake at 400 degrees only until crust is a light golden brown, approximately 10 minutes. Serve at room temperature.

*To make this recipe even easier, skip steps 1-3, instead purchasing a pumpkin pie from the grocery store. In step 5, simply scoop out filling from the pie onto the pastry circles.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Al's Dessert Pizza

Hey everyone!

Sorry to not post this past Sunday. You see, we were kinda busy...ON VACATION!!! Between attending weddings, Disneyland, and planning for more weddings, it's been a jam-packed week. More on our adventures in St. Louis and Cali to come soon...

We tasted a treat last night, though, that we couldn't wait to share with you. While enjoying dinner at Tony & Alba's Pizza & Pasta last night, restaurant owner and long time friend Al presented us with his new strawberry banana nutella marshmallow dessert pizza.



On a pizza.

It was glorious.

So head over to Tony & Alba's, or whip up your own version of this incredibly tasty treat. You'll thank me (and Al!)

Happy scarfing!