Monthly Archives: August 2012

Blackberry Bonanza


I’m not a huge fan of fruit, but I do love me some blackberries. Tart, yet sweet, and totally popable. Also I have a strong emotional attachment to blackberries. My grandpa used to grow them, and when I was little we would go pick them. It was the biggest thrill to find a huge blackberry that wasn’t rotting or had a bite out of it. We would take the berries back to my mom and grandma and they would make a pie or cobbler or we would have blackberry shortcake. I very much prefer blackberry shortcake to strawberry shortcake. Given my affinity for this lil’ berry, I was anxious to try this recipe:Blackberry Crumb Bars. It’s from my girl Martha, and it was pretty easy. Great summer dessert. Also a great way to use up blackberries from the farmer’s market!!



  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted, and 1/2 cup (1 stick), room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 containers (5 ounces each) blackberries


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line bottom with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; butter and flour paper, tapping out excess.
  2. Make topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, brown sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; add 1 cup flour, and mix with a fork until large moist crumbs form. Refrigerate topping until ready to use.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining 3/4 cup flour, baking powder, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat room-temperature butter, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy; add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce speed to low; mix in flour mixture. Spread batter evenly in pan; sprinkle with blackberries, then chilled topping.
  4. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift cake onto a work surface; cut into 16 squares.

My Notes…

I used Pam to spray the parchment paper, and I didn’t flour it. I don’t think it’s really necessary with parchment paper. I thought these were really tasty, and the recipe is pretty straight forward. Also, I’m pretty lazy, and don’t usually mix the dry ingredients in a bowl before mixing them with the wet stuff. But that’s up to you. Personally I think it all gets mixed in, and I don’t like having to clean another bowl. Also, I cut these into much smaller bites. These are pretty rich with all the butter, but I enjoyed them.


Rocky Road Brownies


Saturday I finished my second triathlon. I didn’t do as well as I wanted, but I thought that finishing the tri itself warranted some dessert. The triathlon was a 500 meter open water swim, followed by a 10 mile bike run, and then a 3 mile run.  I wasn’t as fit for this tri as I would have liked, but I’ve still been trying to eat 1200 calories a day.  But after busting my butt for an hour an a half, I felt like I deserve a calorie-counting free day and some chocolate.  If you’re calorie-counting, you might just want to stop reading now. These rich guys are definitely not for those dieting.  However, they were super, super easy to make, looked amazing, and you don’t even have to get out your stand or hand mixer. If you like rocky road, then you will definitely like these. I would absolutely make them again. Oh, giving credit where it’s due. I got these from the Martha Stewart website, but I tweaked the directions a bit, so you might want to check out my notes to simplify the process. Enjoy!


  • 1 stick of butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 bag (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate morsels
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup of flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts, such as cashews, pecans or walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch-square baking pan. Line bottom with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; butter paper.
  2. In a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water, combine butter and 1 cup chocolate chips. Heat, stirring occasionally, just until melted, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Remove mixture from heat; stir in sugars and salt, then eggs, and finally flour, stirring just until combined. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes
  4. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips, then marshmallows and nuts. Bake until chocolate is shiny and marshmallows are puffed, about 5 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift cake onto a work surface; cut into 16 squares.

My Notes…

First of all, I did not have an 8 x 8 pan, so I used a 9 x 9 pan. I really preferred this (if you have the 9in pan) because these were so rich, that if they would have been thicker it would have been too much. Also I didn’t heat the chocolate chips over hot water. I used the microwave. I think it’s easier, and works well. Just follow the heating instructions on the package of chips. I used walnuts and thought they tasted great. It was nice to have the crunch with the chewy gooey goodness of the chocolate and marshmallows. Also, they’re difficult to cut, but cutting them in to 16ths makes huge brownies. I would recommend 25 brownies, or at least 20. Make sure you have some milk on hand. Good stuff.

Back to School Banana Cake


August means only one thing to me: The end of summer vacation, and the beginning of a new school year. This is my sixth year of teaching, but this year is just so different from all the other years. I’m really excited about all the new techniques I’m going to try this year, as well as meeting all my new students. One of my favorite things about school is my lunch group. Every day I get to eat with the same group of teachers. Several of us have had lunch together since my first year of teaching at this school. Our lunch group is kinda notorious for being a little rambunctious and often inappropriate. And that’s why it’s my favorite part of the day. After minding every word you say around a bunch of middle schoolers, it’s nice to kick back and say what you want with your friends, if only for 20 minutes. In honor of the first day of school, I decided to make this cake for my lunch group. I’ve been dying to try it for a while because it just sounds so delicious. Also I had some brown bananas, so that was perfect. In my opinion it’s an impressive cake and very easy to do. I also think the icing/frosting would be great on other cakes. I had a great first day, and a slice of cake with my friends at lunch was just icing on the cake (pun intended).

Banana Cake with Chocolate Chips and Peanut Butter Frosting

Cake Ingredients

  • 1 Box of Yellow Cake Mix (See! Told you it was easy)
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1/3 cup of oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup brown bananas, smashed
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup miniature chocolate chips

Cake Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare pans. (I used two 9in rounds)
  2. Combine cake mix, oil, water, eggs, baking soda and cinnamon and beat on low for 1 minute. Increase the mixer speed a little bit and beat for 2 more minutes.
  3. Stir in the bananas and chocolate chips by hand.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 35 – 40 minutes. Check with a toothpick to be sure your cake is finished.
  5. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then flip out on a wire rack to cool completely. Frost.

Icing Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 4 Tbsp. water
  • 3 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 4 cups powdered sugar

Icing Instructions

  1. Cream butter and peanut butter.
  2. Add 2 Tbsp. water, salt, and vanilla and cream again.
  3. Slowly add the powdered sugar. After all the sugar is added, beat in another 1-2 Tbsp. water.
  4. Beat in the honey until creamy.

My Notes…

First of all, make sure you don’t prepare the cake according to the package. The measurements have been adjusted to compensate for the bananas. I wouldn’t recommend using regular chocolate chips over the mini. You could, but the mini’s are by far much better for this recipe. With the frosting, I didn’t have 4 cups of powdered sugar. I just used what I had, which was probably closer to 2 cups. I would recommend starting with 2 cups, and then adding more if you needs a thicker consistency. I thought mine was a little runnier than most icings, but the flavor was good (not too sweet), and it was great on the cake. It’s a rich cake, a little goes a long way. But if you like bananas, chocolate, and peanut butter this cake is for you! So good. I also sprinkled some of the mini chocolate chips on top of the cake if you’re confused by the photo. Why? Because I love chocolate and I could. I did not regret it.