Homemade Poptarts, Challenges, & A Love Story.

I met George 10 years ago. Just a couple of kids in freshman French class. George had this way of staring at me from across the room… all year. The one time I attempted to talk to him, I realized that his longing looks came from a place of shyness, as our conversation went something like this- Me: “Hey, you’re in my french class!”, George: “Uh-huh:”. Those are the only words we shared until our senior year in high school. He worked at a local coffee shop that year, and the first time I walked in, he no longer looked like that sweet shy kid that sat across from me, he was all grown up.. And I was smitten. That year I fell in love with the boy in french class, and it was wonderful. But like most high school love stories, life happens. He left for college, there were broken hearts, and our lives took totally different paths. Challenge #1.

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Fast forward 5 years, to a coffee date during my very short lunch hour. Although we had met for coffee a few times in between, this time felt different. There was now a grown man sitting across from me. Both of us had stories of the crazy adventures life had taken us on, which were so far off from one another, but some how our paths still ran back together. Yes, I knew this time was different. This time, I brought him a muffin… a banana almond muffin. This time I was going in for the kill. Fate knew that day. Challenge #2.

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It was around our third date that it was decided that this was exactly where we needed to be. He looked at me that night and said, “maybe this is always where we were supposed to end up”, and I completely agreed. Here’s the catch though; George’s job requires him to leave every 70 days, for 70 days. Absence does so much more than make the heart grow fonder. To say that I have learned to appreciate love, faithfulness, quality time, and simply being able to call the one you love when ever you dang well feel like it, would be an understatement. Challenge #3.

Life is full of challenges. With George, challenges seem more like adventures, and the best kind of adventures. He pushes me in ways that stretch my abilities, and makes me want to be the best that I can be. At the moment, George is away for work, and today he challenged me to making poptarts. The boy can put back poptarts like its no ones business. So this is for him, and I officially have 19 days to perfect the poptart. Challenge #4.

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I look forward to many more “challenges” to come. Thank you George for always pushing my baking abilities, and making me the happiest girl in the world. These are of course a favorite among many, a brown sugar cinnamon poptart. Recipe to come very soon. Enjoy!

Chocolate-Stout Brownies

Chocolate and Beer.. Two of my favorite things. Beer is something I have grown to appreciate more and more over the past few years. And chocolate.. well that has always been a happy addiction. These brownies were definitely different than anything I have made before. My advice to you should you choose to make these bad boys, is to give yourself plenty of time! They took a little while but it was well worth it, I promise. These brownies are very rich, as they have 4 types of chocolate AND the stout. Sounds dreamy, right??

Originally, this recipe was going to made with a very special stout made by a very special family, but much to my dismay, they were all out when I arrived to pick it up. Although I was not able to use their stout, you should still check out and “like” their Facebook page here. They are an awesome family who have been making beer for some time now, and have finally perfected it to share with the rest of the world. Their Copper Ale, “Trail Blazer”, just premiered this last week at the Inland Empire Brewing Company. It was probably the best beer I have ever had. So show them some love!

{Chocolate-Stout Brownies}
Recipe adapted from here
 
1 cup flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp kosher salt
6 tbs unsalted butter, cubed
8 oz dark, bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 bottles of your favorite stout
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
 
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 9 x 13 non-stick baking pan with parchment paper. I do one long piece going across the width of the pan, as it makes them easier to lift out after they have cooled. You can do this how you want though, for example greasing the pan.
Pour both bottles of the stout into a sauce pan. You will be reducing the beer down to 1 1/4 cups. This should take about 15-20 min. Set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, mix together flour, cocoa and salt. Set aside. Next, with a double boiler melt together your butter, dark, and white chocolate. Stir constantly. Remove from heat as soon it is melted and smooth. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar for 3 minutes on high. You will want this mixture to be fluffy. Add melted chocolate mixture.  Mix in flour mixture, and once combined, add the beer and vanilla. Pour into pan, and top with white chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Bake for 20-25 min. Check with tooth pick around 20 minutes to be safe. Let brownies cool completely before cutting. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar, and enjoy!
 

Lemon Bars

A friend recently challenged me to make lemon bars. I have never made any dessert in the form of a bar, so I was slightly intimidated. While visiting my mom, I came across these beautiful lemons in my aunts backyard, and suddenly, the challenge seemed like more of a fun adventure. These are definitely for the lemon lover in your life, and have a wonderful, almost pie-like texture. Very glad I accepted this challenge!

{Lemon Bars}

Crust
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 cup butter, room temperature

Filling
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed and strained

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, and line 8×8 pan with foil. To start crust, mix together flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest. Cut butter into chunks;  add to flour mixture, and mix on low with electric mixture until the dough forms into sandy crumbs.

Pour into pan and press mixture down (with your fingers or the back of a spoon) into an even layer.
Bake for 16-19 minutes, until just lightly browned around the edges.

 While the crust is baking, make your filling. Whisk together all of the ingredients until fully combined. Add filling to crust while it is still hot, and bake for another 20-30 min. Make sure filling does not jiggle. Let cool completely before cutting. Dust with powdered sugar.
Recipe adapted from this blog.