Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Tart

For my last day of work, I wanted to bring in a special little treat for the office. I really didn't feel like bringing a cake, and cookies just felt to boring.

Thank God Martha Stewart saved my life on this one and introduced me to the most AMAZING dessert I've ever tasted, the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Tart. You need to drop everything and make this now.

Warning: It did take quite a long time to make with all of the cooling and freezing, so make sure you've got a long afternoon or evening for this one. And my peanut butter marbling definitely didn't turn out as good as this, but it was easier than I thought with a wooden skewer.

And don't worry about the nutrition info. on this one. Just don't. 

Here's what you'll need:
  • For the Crust

    • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Valrhona)
    • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • For the Brittle

    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
    • 2 tablespoons water
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) cocktail peanuts, finely chopped in a food processor
  • For the Filling

    • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
    • 3/4 cup heavy cream
    • 5 ounces semisweet chocolate (61 percent), chopped
    • Pinch of salt


    Make the crust: Whisk flour, salt, and cocoa powder. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla, and beat until combined, scraping down sides of bowl. Reduce speed to low, and gradually beat in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with cream and beginning and ending with flour mixture. Shape dough into a rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 2 days. Let stand at room temperature 5 minutes before rolling.

    Roll out dough into a 7-by-16-inch rectangle on a floured surface. Fit into a 4 1/2-by-14-inch rectangular tart ring ( on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Push dough into corners of ring to create sharp edges; trim so that dough is flush with top of ring. Prick dough all over with a fork. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line crust with parchment, pressing so that it is flush with dough, especially in corners. Fill with pie weights or dried beans; bake until edges are set, about 20 minutes. Remove weights and parchment; bake until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes.

    Make the brittle: Bring sugar, butter, corn syrup, and water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture begins to brown. Reduce heat to medium, and cook until golden brown. Stir in baking soda, salt, and peanuts until well combined (mixture should be the color of peanut butter). Immediately pour onto a nonstick baking mat, spreading out as thinly as possible with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes. Finely chop half the brittle with a heavy knife to yield 1/2 cup. Reserve remainder for another use.

    Make the filling: Heat peanut butter in a microwave until fluid, about 30 seconds. Pour 1/2 cup into crust, and top with chopped brittle, pressing it into peanut butter. Freeze tart until peanut butter is firm, about 10 minutes. For ganache, bring cream to a boil; pour over chocolate in a small bowl. Add salt; let sit 8 minutes.

    Meanwhile, fill a disposable pastry bag with remaining fluid peanut butter (if peanut butter has thickened, microwave it 10 seconds), and snip off end. Whisk ganache until smooth, and immediately pour into tart, smoothing with a mini offset spatula if necessary. Pipe peanut butter in continuous diagonal zigzag lines down length of tart. Draw a wooden skewer perpendicularly through peanut butter lines in a zigzag motion down length of tart. Then draw skewer in a continuous sideways loop pattern down length of tart to create swirls.

    Refrigerate tart until set, at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours. Cut into wedges, and serve.

    I woke boyfriend up Tuesday morning with a square of this tart and he was sooo happy. I then told him I was taking the rest into work and he turned into grumpy boyfriend. I'll have to make it again, just for him. And you should make it too!

    And the brittle is delicious. Use the extra brittle as a topping over ice cream. Boom.

Pure Bliss...Sort Of

I'm taking the rest of the week off before starting a new job next Monday, and had all sorts of plans to do absolutely nothing. Ahhhh.

Until about 2AM this morning, when a car alarm in the parking garage across the alley started going off. And it went off ever 20 minutes. It just stopped about one hour ago...

So I'm up. And I took advantage by making this delicious white spiced coffee from Country Living. A great recipe for spicing up a weekend coffee. Or an excuse to forget about the blaring alarm across the street.

It tastes like a coffee-laced chai latte, and made my morning ten times better. 

Also on the agenda today: 
-Watching The Artist for the first time
- Catching up on some knitting
- Baking an extravagant cake (flavor yet to be determined)
- Taking a long bath with a magazine or two :)

Ahhh. Days off lying on the couch with the sun coming through the windows. Soaking that up fo sho!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Ready to Slooooooow Down

Yikes Bikes!
Ever been to Ukiah, CA? It's a gorgeous town filled with lovely people, and I just filmed my last job with a company that I have been a part of for three years...I started here as an intern in college. And Tuesday is my last day. It's weird, but I'm moving on to a new opportunity, a time to embrace growth and a new challenge.

It has been a whirlwind of a week, and before I start my new gig, I'm looking forward to just a few days off. I've already got a full menu planned to make up for my lack of cooking the past few weeks, and a calendar filled with extra group fitness classes to sub. A time to relax, do what I want to do, and refresh before tackling a new position head on.  I need a few days to slow down before I speed things right back up. Go! Go! Go!

Before I left town, I made a DELICIOUS recipe I found in Bon Appetit over a year ago. These chicken skewers with tarragon-pistachio pesto tasted absolutely fresh with the grilled veggies. A great dish for summertime grilling, but I made them on the stove just fine. 

You'll need some bamboo skewers (metal skewers will also do)


  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted natural pistachios
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 medium garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 16 1-inch pieces red onion (1/3 inch thick)
  • 16 1-inch squares red bell pepper
  • 8 lemon slices, halved
  • 1 pound chicken tenders (about 8 large)
**You can also use dried tarragon, works the same if you can't find fresh. I swear I bought pistachios at the grocery store, but I couldn't find them for the life of me. I substituted the pistachios with pine nuts, and the pesto was delish! 


  • Puree first 5 ingredients in processor. Add 1/4 cup olive oil and blend until slightly coarse paste forms. Mix in 2 tablespoons water. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer 3 tablespoons pesto to small bowl (for brushing chicken and vegetables); reserve remaining pesto.
  • Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Brush grill with oil. Thread 1 onion piece, 1 bell pepper square, 1 lemon slice half, 1 chicken tender (lengthwise), then 1 onion piece, 1 bell pepper square, and 1 lemon slice half alternately on each of 8 skewers. Brush vegetables and chicken on skewers with olive oil, then with 3 tablespoons pesto from small bowl. Sprinkle skewers with salt and pepper. 
    Grill until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are slightly softened, 6 to 8 minutes per side. Serve with reserved pesto.

     Look at the pretty colors!

    I would recommend that you cut the chicken into as equal sizes as possible so that they cook easily. Also, if you're cooking these in a grill pan over the stove like I did, make sure you use a pan large enough to fit the skewers so that all meat and veggies lay evenly on the pan. These took forever to cook because I didn't really take these two things into account. I grilled them for a LONG time (at least 15 minutes each side) and the chicken still wasn't cooked through, so I popped them in the oven to finish off. But if you cut the chicken to equal sizes and use a large enough cooking surface, you shouldn't have this problem.
    • Nutritional Information

      One serving contains:
      Calories (kcal) 432.7
      %Calories From Fat 62.4
      Fat (g) 30.0
      Saturated Fat (g) 5.4
      Cholesterol (mg) 46.5
      Carbohydrates (g) 23.1
      Dietary Fiber (g) 2.8
      Total Sugars (g) 2.4
      Net Carbs (g) 20.3
      Protein (g) 18.1
      Sodium (mg) 518.7

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Double Duty Frittata

A few weeks ago, I cooked up this delicious mushroom, leek, and fontina frittata from Bon Appetit February 2013.

If you've never made a frittata, you need to start incorporating them into your weekly menu. They can be made quite healthy by choosing a low-fat cheese, or you can eliminate the cheese all together (but why would you want to do that, really?) An egg souffle filled with veggies (and meat, if you want), this dish packs a huge protein punch, and if you're trying to add in more veggies to your life (like I am), a frittata is a great way to do it.

Even better, this frittata can be served hot or room temperature. You can eat it for dinner during the week and grab a slice of leftovers for a quick breakfast. Double-duty meals? Yes, please!

Try this super savory mushroom, leek, and fontina frittata this weekend.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 medium leeks, whites and pale green parts only, chopped
  • 8 ounces crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 12 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3/4 cup shredded Fontina cheese, divided
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper


Place a rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 350°. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 10-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add leeks; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until softened and all liquid has evaporated, 8-10 minutes.  

Meanwhile, whisk eggs, crème fraîche, and parsley in a large bowl; mix in 1/2 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper. 
Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cheese over eggs and transfer skillet to oven. Bake frittata until golden brown and center is set, 25-30 minutes.
Increase the heat to medium-high and add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Pour the egg mixture over the mushrooms, shaking the pan to evenly distribute mixture. Cook the frittata, without stirring, until its edges begin to set, about 5 minutes. 
And in case you're wondering, here's the nutrition breakdown:
6 servings, 1 serving contains:
Calories (kcal) 300
Fat (g) 21
Saturated Fat (g) 9
Cholesterol (mg) 460
Carbohydrates (g) 9
Dietary Fiber (g) 1
Total Sugars (g) 3
Protein (g) 18
Sodium (mg) 330

We Deserve Something Pretty!

Holy Moly Batman! I've had a crazy few weeks. I'm changing jobs, but had committed to two more shoots for a casting demo that I thought I should see through. I flew in to Hollywood, FL on Monday morning and came back Wednesday around midnight - quick turnaround! Just enough time to do our shoot, not enough time to have much fun on the beach :(

Whenever I come home from a shoot, I'm always tempted to spend LOTS of money and buy myself lots of pretty things. Maybe it's because being away from home is never all that comfortable, or it's the long hours, eating out every meal, all of it, I think I deserve a little treat. Are you ever a victim of stress shopping? Or ever play the "I deserve this (and this and this and this and this)" game? Does buying something pretty really work to make you feel better? I think it definitely lifts my moods.

So this time when I came home, I hit up Sephora and Anthro for all things pretty: 

I picked up these Fresh SugarBath Lychee Bath Cubes after reading about them on another blog (I'm sorry I can't remember which one it is!) Made of brown sugar, they're slightly sweet-scented and definitely luxurious. I dropped 3 of these little cubes into my tub Thursday night, and I stayed there for practically 40 minutes (woops!) and felt so great afterwards. My skin felt softer, and I was completely relaxed. Several sales associates at Sephora had never even seen these in their store before, and didn't know what they were, but I highly recommend you splurge on a bottle when you're stressed :) A quiet bath fixes everything. You should get these. Now.

Because Anthro is just next door on State Street, I had to hit up their sale section. Oh Anthro, how I've missed you in my efforts to spend less money. Sigh. It's good to be home :)

I scored what I though to be two awesome deals...

I had reservation about this blazer on the hanger, but I've been looking for a casual blazer with a little more give so I thought I'd give it a whirl. And I was pleasantly surprised! The white colorblocking stripes under the sleeves have a very slimming effect. The fit is great, the fabric is soft. This will be a great addition to my spring wardrobe. It's shown as not available online, but there were SEVERAL of them at the State Street store. If you're looking for a less corporate, more sassy blazer to add a little jazz to your workplace wardrobe, this blazer is a perfect fit. And it's on sale for $79. That's still a little bit of a splurge for me, but you can never have too many blazers. 

This Deletta top I found on sale for $10! $10! Seriously!? It must have been a lucky return find, because there was only one in the sales room, it was a size small, and oh yeah, it was $10! I'll admit, the scrunch in front feels a little weird. But I never have enough long sleeve shirts. And this gorgeous blue for $10. Boom.

I may or may not have also hit up a little extra 25% off sale at J.Crew Factory for some spring wear...more on that later.

Did I mention that 100% of this shopping occurred during a 2 1/2-hour lunch break? Double woops.

I'm heading out to San Francisco tomorrow for my final shoot before starting my new job, so I'll probably be a little MIA. But hopefully after that, I can figure out my routine.

Have a GREAT week!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Happy Sunday : Week Ahead!

Sunday is easily my favorite day. Saturdays are filled with teaching, errands, chores, and friend commitments. But Sunday is the day where I find the most time for myself.

After taking Spinning and CXWorx this morning (hey, instructors should keep taking class, too!), I dashed over to my local Lush on Armitage to pick up some lotion. BUT THEY WERE CLOSED! :( Sad face. Lush on Armitage is closed up for some remodeling, and it doesn't like like they'll be back until March. I'll have to make a stop at one of the downtown locations, I suppose....

A little perusing at some great consignment stores in the area, and then home to bake. And now I'm deciding what to do next: taxes or Spinning continuing education...

Both are obvious obligations. Neither sounds fun right now. So maybe I'll procrastinate. A new issue of Bon Appetit made it into my mail box the other day. Don't you just get so excited over a new magazine?! It's the happiest day ever! And I still have my Anthology magazine to get at, PLUS I've got Anna Quindlen's Every Last One winking at me. If you haven't yet, add this one to your reading list!

Looking ahead this week:

Monday - Turkey and Pesto Paninis, simple and delish.
Tuesday - Hoisin glazed salmon burgers...I'm a little skeptical about this dish, but we'll see...
Wednesday - Moroccan Chicken with Kale
Thursday - Work Dinner
Friday - TBD
Saturday - TBD
Sunday - TBD

Monday - Teach Spinning 6AM
Tuesday - Teach Body Pump/CXWorx in evening
Wednesday - Yoga @ 7PM - I need to do yoga more regularly, I need to STRETCH!
Thursday - Possible Day Off
Friday - Teach Spinning
Saturday - Teach Body Pump
Sunday - TBD

Have a relaxing Sunday evening!

Enhanced by Zemanta