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Monthly Archives: January 2015

Two Sisters, Serial #29 and Mint Brownie Bites

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So we got to thinking (we do that every once in a while here at R&R). Normally, our desserts are small and designed for someone to bake and eat while they’re staying at home and spending the night reading or listening to one of our stories or serialized novels. And that will remain our emphasis long as we’re around (and we’re coming up on two years old in a few months–yay for Reading and Recipes!).

But after last week’s casual suggestion that you might want to make a double batch of our Mini Apple Pies for your Super Bowl buffet, it occurred to us that some of our small-batch recipes for a quiet night alone with a story could do double duty as a plate of goodies for a dessert buffet table or an afternoon get together. After all, it is that time of year for informal indoor parties with a small group of friends.

If last week’s recipe was an accidental double-duty candidate, this week’s gem–Mint Brownie Bites–is intentionally so. It is the perfect stay-at-home, curl-up-on-the-couch comfort treat. These bite-size brownies are deelish even before you add the Junior Mint, which then kicks them into the realm of deelish and exotic. You’ll polish off the whole batch without missing a beat (unless it’s your heart racing from the combined chocolate-sugar rush).

But and also, this recipe can be used to give your guests–at a Super Bowl party or any other party–a memorable sweet treat. If you put them out to share, we guarantee that anyone who is lucky enough to try one will remember the event and wonder who made those yummy mint brownies.

You see, at R&R you can have your brownie and eat it too! (O.K. So maybe we’ve taken this thinking thing a little too far. We’ll get back to our non-thinking basics next week.)

mint brownie bites

Mint Brownie Bites

1/4 cup unsalted butter

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup granulated sugar

pinch of salt

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup mini chocolate chips

1 box Junior Mints

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a mini muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Add the butter and semi-sweet chocolate chips to a large pot. Warm the ingredients over medium heat, stirring constantly, until both are melted and mixed together. Add the granulated sugar and salt and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add the egg and egg yolk and mix until completely combined. Slowly stir in the flour and mix until just incorporated, careful not to over mix. Fold in the mini chocolate chips.

Divide brownie batter between muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake the brownies for 20-24 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of brownie comes out clean. (This time will vary slightly depending on the size of the mini muffin pan you use. Check brownies after about 15 minutes and test doneness.) Remove from the oven and gently press one Junior Mint into the center of each brownie. Let the brownies cool completely in the pan before removing and storing in an airtight container.

Makes about 12 brownie bites.

mint brownie bite

{Adapted from Cooking to Perfection}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #29 of “Two Sisters”.

Two Sisters, Serial #29, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters, Serial #29, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Enjoy!

Two Sisters, Serial #28 and Mini Apple Pies

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One of the great good fortunes of contemporary shoppers is that they can find fresh crisp and juicy apples all year round. This wasn’t always the case. I had an uncle that owned an orchard in New England and he was lucky if he could keep his apples fresh into the late fall–and only then at the considerable trouble of storing the apples in special sealed lockers. Nowadays you go to the grocery store and there are a half-dozen varieties of beautiful apples waiting for you to hand-pick as many or as few as you need, maybe a little more expensive than my uncle’s apples but–hey–nothing is free.

And fresh apples year-round means you can do apple desserts year-round. So to give us a little break from the drudgery of winter, turn our thoughts (however briefly) toward the bright sunshine of summer or the beautiful colors of fall, we’re offering Mini Apple Pies as this mid-January recipe. Not only are these pies easy to make and yummy to eat, they’re also cute and a little offbeat in their muffin-tin, single-serving size.

So have some fun and turn your thoughts to fairer weather and give thanks for the modern food-supply chain that gives you fresh apples in the dead of winter.

And if you want a unique dessert for next week’s Super Bowl Buffet, consider making a double batch of these gems. Your guests will love them and maybe even think they’re at a summer picnic or fall jamboree rather than a Super Bowl Party–at least till they start showing the ads.

mini apple streusel pies

Mini Apple Pies 

Mini Pies:

1 pre-made pie crust

1 cup diced, peeled apples (such as Granny Smith)

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Streusel Topping:

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons oats

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

mini apple pie

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a cupcake pan with cooking spray, and set aside.

Unroll pre-made pie crust. Using a 3-inch round cookie cuter or glass, cut 6 circles out of the dough. Return the remaining dough to the refrigerator for another use. Place each of the 6 rounds into the prepared cupcake pan, pressing each round into the bottom and up the sides of each opening.

In a mixing bowl, combine the rest of the pie ingredients (diced apples, granulated sugar, flour, and cinnamon). Divide this mixture between the 6 crusts. Using the same bowl, make the streusel topping by combining the flour, oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon together. Mix in melted butter until the topping becomes crumbly. Sprinkle the topping over each of the 6 mini pies.

Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, or until the pies become golden brown. Remove the mini pies from the oven and let them cool in the pan for 30 minutes before removing to serving plates. Serve warm. Cover and store any leftover pies in the refrigerator.

Makes 6 mini pies.

mini apple pies

{Adapted from Center Cut Cook}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #28 of “Two Sisters”.

Two Sisters, Serial #28, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters, Serial #28, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Enjoy!

Two Sisters, Serial #27 and Browned Butter Cupcakes

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Hello? Hello? You back with us now?

Yeah, Christmas is over (finally got the tree down; the needles–jeez!) and the fireworks of New Year’s have fallen silent (that pop you heard this morning was the neighbor’s old car backfiring in the cold). So it’s back to the business of ordinary life–and in the winter no less. What a bummer.

But not at Reading and Recipes! (Can you hear the kazoo band playing in the background?) We’re fired up to get back into the swing of things, launch our website into post-holiday 2015! 

And to do that we’ve got the perfect R&R recipe–Browned Butter Cupcakes. It’s a little bit trendy (brown butter is all the rage these days), a little bit healthy (applesauce and raisins and nuts), a little bit decadent (as in sweet and rich), and most importantly downright tasty and (pretty) easy. (O.K.–so the browned butter is a wrinkle. But you can learn this trick–got to stretch yourself in this great new year!)

Business as usual ain’t so bad–not with a little help from your friends at Reading and Recipes!

browned butter frosting topped applesauce nut cakes

Browned Butter Cupcakes

Cupcakes:

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup applesauce

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup chopped nuts, optional

1/4 cup raisins, optional

Frosting:

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 Tablespoon milk

applesauce nut cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tin with 6 liners and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg until well incorporated. Stir in the vanilla and applesauce until all ingredients are mixed together. Slowly stir in the flour, baking soda, and cinnamon until everything just comes together, careful not to over mix the batter. Fold in the nuts and raisins, if using.

Divide the cake batter between the 6 liners. Bake in preheated oven for 20-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting by browning the butter over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Be careful not to burn the butter. When the butter is ready, it will become a dark caramel brown and be very aromatic. Remove the butter from the heat and pour into a mixing bowl. Stir in the vanilla, 1 cup powdered sugar, and milk until all ingredients are mixed together. (If you want a thicker frosting, add 1/4-1/2 cup more powdered sugar.) Frost the cooled cupcakes.

Makes 6 cupcakes.

applesauce nut cupcake with browned butter frosting

{Adapted from Mott’s Applesauce}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #27 of “Two Sisters”.

Two Sisters, Serial #27, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters, Serial #27, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Enjoy!

Two Sisters, Serial #26 and Skinny Triple Chocolate Cookies

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Okay, okay.

So if you’ve been following this blog for long, you probably didn’t expect to see the word “skinny” anywhere in the vicinity, let alone in the title.

And there’s a reason behind that prohibition. Reading and Recipes was conceived as a website where one could indulge oneself at the end of a busy day or a long week by cooking a simple but rich and delicious dessert for one (or two) and enjoying a story or chapter from a serialized novel. The blog’s creators intended that half of the fun would be in preparing the dessert (perhaps while listening to a story) and the other half of the fun would be in eating it (perhaps while reading a story). And in order to complete the second half of the party, the dessert had to be really, really yummy. And in our experience, most times “yummy” puts padding on the “tummy.” But then its only one dessert on one night and you can always go jogging or biking tomorrow.

BUT–lo and behold–we’ve found a yummy rich dessert that is also “skinny”–as in about 100 calories per cookie. But don’t even think about that part or you’ll spoil the pleasure of nibbling on these fudgey cookies while enjoying Two Sisters, Serial #26 or any of our extensive library of fiction filed away on the “Stories” page.

(And whatever you do, don’t tell anyone we’ve got a healthy recipe on here. Don’t want to tarnish our hard-earned reputation as an escape from the real world of counting calories and fat grams.)

skinny triple chocolate cookies

Skinny Triple Chocolate Cookies

1/4 cup pumpkin puree*

1/3 cup brown sugar

3 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1 egg white

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup whole wheat flour**

3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

1/4 cup milk chocolate chips

skinny chocolate cookies

In a large mixing bowl, add the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Mix ingredients together until sugars are incorporated into the pumpkin. Add egg white and vanilla and beat into pumpkin mixture. Slowly mix in the flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt to pumpkin mixture until fully incorporated, careful not to over mix the cookie dough. Gently fold in the chocolate chips. Refrigerate the cookie dough for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with a Silpat mat or parchment paper. Spoon tablespoon size balls of cookie dough onto prepared cookie sheet. The dough will be very sticky, so consider spraying your spoon with cooking spray. Gently flatten each ball with the back of a spoon. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until cookies are set on the outside and still soft on the inside. Remove from oven and cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Makes 1 dozen cookies, 106 calories per cookie.

*You can substitute equal parts applesauce or mashed banana for the pumpkin puree.

**You can use all whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour, if you prefer.

(Any alternations to the recipe may change the caloric content of the cookies.)

skinny triple chocolate cookie

{Adapted from Cooking to Perfection}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #26 of “Two Sisters”.

Two Sisters, Serial #26, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters, Serial #26, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Enjoy!

Two Sisters, Serial #25 and Mandarin Orange Fluff

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2015!!!

Can you believe it?

We’re going to start this year off right. Let’s take the wholesome tang and sweetness of mandarin orange slices, the all-round nutrition (and digestive assist) of yogurt, the richness of whipped cream, throw in a little orange liqueur (if you’re not too hung over from last night), some dark chocolate shavings as a garnish and–BANG!!! (that’s R&R’s version of fireworks–ain’t it cute?)–we’re starting off the new year with a splash and style and, as always, a simple and scrumptious dessert for one or two.

Oh, and check out Two Sisters, Serial #25. It finds Brooke and Leah scheming to dance the debutante waltz together, even though it has never been done by a couple of the same sex in the century-long history of the event. Brooke plans to wear the tux and lead, since Leah is deaf and can’t hear the music. Sound confusing? Well, check out the previous twenty-four installments, at your leisure. You’ve got a whole new year to work with.

A blessed and happy new year to all!

(Now if I can just remember to get the year right on my checks . . . )

orange fluff dessert

Mandarin Orange Fluff

8 ounces vanilla yogurt

3 Tablespoons orange juice or orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups whipped topping, thawed*

11 ounces mandarin oranges, drained

orange fluff

In a mixing bowl, add the vanilla yogurt, orange juice or orange liqueur, and vanilla extract. Stir ingredients together. Fold in the whipped topping until all ingredients are well incorporated. Spoon some of the yogurt mixture into the bottom of parfait glasses. Top with a few mandarin oranges. Repeat layers, ending with the yogurt. Garnish with shaved chocolate or a mandarin orange slice. Serve immediately. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.

Serves 2-3.

*You can also make whipped cream by beating 1 cup whipping cream to stiff peaks.

mandarin orange dessert

{Adapted from Taste of Home}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #25 of “Two Sisters”.

Two Sisters, Serial #25, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters, Serial #25, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Enjoy!