green tea frappucino bars

One of life’s more important questions:

If you were a Disney princess which one would you want to be?

Sometimes I want to be Jasmine, running around the house in my glittery balloon pants (classy PJ pants), showing the sultan who’s boss, and chilling with my awesome cat.

Other days I want to be Belle.  Telling that Gaston guy he’s a jerk, being the nerdy Disney princess, and getting sung to and fed by dancing silverware.

Pocahontas is a compelling choice too.  Down with global warming and the evils of colonialism!  I’d get to talk to animals (and not in the loopy way that Snow White does), wear turquoise everything (my favorite), and paint with all the colors of the wind (that’s a lot of colors).

The only thing I knew for sure was that I wouldn’t want to be Sleeping Beauty (Aurora… but who remembers that girl’s name?).  Hopefully I don’t lose readers over this, but she was by far the lamest Disney Princess.  She just slept for a while and looked pretty… that’s it.

But today, I’m feeling like a total modern day pre-Prince Charming Cinderella.  That’s because my oven’s been in overdrive lately and started spewing smoke so I had to clean it.  Currently I’m sitting here in my 8-year old baby blue dress with my hair in a huge messy bun and soot covering every inch of my body.

Anyways, my hour spent cleaning the oven was totally worth it because I got to make these blondies afterwards!

Remember my super-easy blondie recipe?

I pimped it out with some matcha powder, white chocolate chips, and marshmallows.  BAM.  Starbucks’ Green Tea Frappucino in bar form.  You’re welcome.

With love,
Erica

Green Tea Frappucino Bars

Servings 16

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon matcha powder
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup marshmallows

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Butter an 8x8 square pan.
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Once melted, add the sugar and beat until smooth.  Beat in egg and then vanilla.  Add salt, stir in flour and matcha powder until the whole thing is a light green color.  Fold in white chocolate chips and marshmallows.
  4. Pour into a prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until set in the middle.
  5. Cool and then slice into squares.

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

raspberry jam crumble bars

“An artist is nothing without his or her obsessions, and I have mine.”
-Andres Serrano
In English, the word “obsession” has a  negative connotation.  
From Mariah Carey taunting us all with “why you so obsessed with me?,” to the fact that being “obsessive” seems synonymous to having a “disorder.”
Who said being “obsessive” is a bad thing?  Does being “obsessed” with something make you a crazy person?
I don’t think so.  In fact, I think that I can be an “obsessive” person, and it’s one of my favorite things about myself. 

The root of my obsessions lie in things that I’m passionate about.  Today, I’m going to talk about two of my obsessions: baking and writing. 
Are you an obsess-er too?  How do you know what an obsession feels like?  For me, it feels like a mosquito bite that I’ve been trying to ignore too long — I have to itch it. 
It’s like when I get home from school, throw my backpack onto the floor, and power walk to the kitchen.  In no time, I’ve got the oven preheated to 350 degrees, the KitchenAid whipping at full-speed, and a stick of butter softening in the microwave.  I haven’t even taken my coat off.  
It’s like right now, when it’s 12a.m. on a Friday night, I’m sitting in bed with my notebook and laptop typing away about obsessions.  Most kids are probably watching T.V., doing homework, or partying — I’m sitting here trying to think of a way to describe the feeling when I can’t sit still and have the sudden urge to whip up a vanilla buttercream. 
It feels naughty sometimes, like watching six episodes of Wipeout! in a row or eating an entire pint of Java Chip Frappuccino Ice Cream in one sitting.  I feel like I shouldn’t do it but I really really want to.  That’s how I feel about baking and writing. That’s when I knew I was obsessed. 
Everyone from Martha Stewart to Gwyneth Paltrow to Michelle Obama all seem to be touting living a “balanced” “whole” life.  These buzz-words are on the cover of every woman’s magazine and snuggled in the pages of all advice books.  Although I believe that some balance is needed for survival and happiness (balanced meals, hydration, family time, alone time, homework time), I think that if you’re super passionate about something, obsessed with it, why try to fight that?
Obsessions are things that don’t feel like work — you can do them for days and weeks and the hours just slip away.  I can stand over a layer cake for hours, I can sweat over a short story for days.  Since it’s so effortless to spend a lot of time on the things that you’re “obsessed” with — you will naturally get better at them with time.  Practice makes better.  Thanks to my obsession, my cakes no longer look like science experiments, and I no longer write short stories about elves and horses.  Now, thanks to my “obsessions” I make cakes with buttercream roses, and I write short stories about real things, like trying to go vegan, the perils of driver’s ed, and the smell of Astroturf in May.
If spending an hour at the gym as part of a “balanced” day makes you want to lock yourself in a closet, but you’re itching to go dancing this Friday night.  Why in the world would you strap yourself to the treadmill? Life is SHORT (and dancing is great exercise).  I’m not saying that we should all just neglect unpleasant responsibilities, but if they’re not vitally important to us, we can let them go and succumb to our obsessions. 
I whipped up these raspberry jam crumble bars approximately thirty seven minutes after I handed in my English exam last week.  Obsessive behavior? Perhaps.  Am I concerned? Not at all.

With love,
Erica

Ingredients
2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 oz. raspberry jam (or any other flavor you like)
1 cup granola without dried fruit

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9-inch square baking pan and line with parchment paper. With your electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter until combined.  Add vanilla.  Sift flour and salt together, add to the butter mixture until it all sticks together in a ball.  Place dough on a board.  Gently press 2/3 of the dough evenly in the bottom of your pan and about 1/4 inch up the sides.  Spread evenly with jam.  Mix the granola into the remaining dough, break it into small bits and crumble them on top of the jam, covering the surface.  Bake for 45 min, cool completely, cut into squares, and enjoy!

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

s’mores bars

I love online personality tests.

Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.  The ones that tell you what flavor of ice cream you are and which Friday Night Lights character you’re most like.

Making s’mores is a lot like taking one of those online quizzes. I can tell a heck of a lot about you by the way you make your s’mores.  Let me elaborate.

  1. You shove your marshmallow into the fire and burn it to a crisp.  You are a strong believer that marshmallows are one of the few foods that tastes better burnt.  You hate waiting in lines, enjoy Chinese take-out food, and tend to be argumentative.
  2. You think you’ve mastered the s’more technique.  You’re
    Lord of the S’mores.  You might be a dad and/or a camp counselor.  You
    can be found whittling your perfect “s’more stick,” or trying to assist a
    less capable s’more maker with this delicate art.  People may call you a
    “busy-body.”  You enjoy team sports and activities, as long as you’re
    the captain.  You’re secretly a horrible dancer.
  3. You like to sit on the edge of the fire and slowly turn your marshmallow — waiting for that perfect, golden-brown glow.  You play a musical instrument, enjoy crafts, and like long walks on the beach.  You keep an agenda and your socks always match.
  4. You’re a weirdo (and I say that in the best sense of that word.  You do something wacky like catch the marshmallow on fire, and squish it (still ablaze) between the chocolate and graham crackers.  You’re a bit of a badass, but you secretly love to play Scrabble.

See? Didn’t I describe your personality to a T? 😉

Ok, so maybe I should leave online quiz making to the professionals.  But no matter how you toast your marshmallows, the classic s’more will always be an All-American crowd-pleaser. 

Everyone from the varsity baseball team to Carly’s dog walker couldn’t get enough of these s’more bars.  They’re super easy, don’t require an open fire and they don’t burn your tongue.  My favorite way to eat these bad-boys is to pop one in the microwave until the marshmallow puffs up and the chocolate gets all melty.  I close my eyes, and eat it with a spoon.  I can smell the campfire and pine trees of summer already…

How do you roast your marshmallow?

With love,
Erica

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme
Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.
In
a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in egg
and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker
crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low
speed until combined.
Divide
dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom
of the prepared pan.  Spread the crust with marshmallow creme.  Sprinkle chocolate chips into a single even layer over the creme.  Place
remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

From Lovin’ From The Oven

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

s’mores brownies

I love pumpkins, apples, cinnamon, and nutmeg; but sometimes, around this time of year, I start to dearly miss the fun, carefree flavors of August. Especially s’mores. 

I was always the kid who burnt their marshmallow to a crisp in the campfire. Parents, teachers, and even other kids would always tell me to stop — but I was relentless. I would happily chomp down blackened marshmallows by the bag-full.  I never understood those kids who would cheerfully sit by the edge of the fire, carefully turning one marshmallow until it reached that perfect, golden brown. I was too impatient to scarf down gooey, marshmallow goodness to be bothered with perfection. So into the fire they went.

Now the weather is to cold to build a fire, but with these decadent brownies, I can still enjoy the gooey flavor sensation of s’mores. These were a HUGE hit with my advisory at school, and the JV soccer team reportedly scarfed down an entire pan of these in less than five minutes.
Whip up a batch of these to conjure up sweet, summer memories.

With love,
Erica

Ingredients:
1 family size box mix of brownies and the ingredients to make the brownies (probably canola oil, water, and 2 eggs)
9-ish honey graham crackers
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (or more!)
4 cups mini marshmallows
1 box yellow cake mix
1 egg
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 by 13in pan with parchment
    paper or aluminum foil that has been generously coated with cooking
    spray. Make sure your lining goes all the way around the pan.
  2. Mix up your brownie mix according to the box directions and pour it into the pan.
  3. Cover the brownies with the graham crackers. You want to fit as many of the graham crackers on there as you can.
  4. Pour the chocolate chips onto the graham crackers and then add the mini marshmallows.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the box of yellow cake mix,
    egg, and stick of softened butter. Use your hand to mix the dough all
    together.
  6. Top the marshmallows with the dough. I found the best way to do this
    is to take some in your hand, press it so it’s flat, and place it on
    top of the marshmallows. Repeat this until all the marshmallows are
    covered (it does not have to be perfect) and then drizzle on the cup of
    sweetened condensed milk.
  7. Bake it in the oven for 18-22 minutes. It’s hard to know when it’s
    done, but the top layer should be a nice golden brown. I took mine out
    after 18 minutes and it turned out wonderful- the brownie layer was
    really fudgy.
  8. It takes a long time for this to cool enough to cut. If you wait for it to cool completely, you can
    cut nice, even squares (you can see the difference in the ones I cut
    right away and the ones I cut the next day).

From Just Everyday Me

best ever blondies

Please stop reffering to blondies as “brownies without chocolate.” It makes them seem lacking.  When I think of them as “brownies without chocolate,” I wnoder where the gooey chocolate is after every bite, and fail to appreciate the chewy, buttery sensation that is unique to blondies.

I still remember the first time I had a blondie. It was a butterscotch blondie, and it was unreal. To me, it’s not a blondie unless it’s full of butterscotch chips. Of course, these would be delicious with pretzels, nuts, M&Ms… but if you’re anything like me, don’t forget the butterscotch!

Now that my school is going through the peak of our fall sports season, there are so many bake sales/team events that I can’t even keep them all straight. These blondies are the perfect thing to bring to bring to bake sales for the following reasons.

1) I can prepare the entire batch in one bowl, in less than 10 minutes.

2) They are easy to pick up and eat.

3) They fit easily in a ziploc box in my backpack, and still look like blondies after being toted around in my bag all day.

4) I can throw whatever odds and ends I have around the kitchen into the batter, and they will be equally delicious. Ex. awkward handfuls of candy corn and abandoned Twix bars regularly make the mix.

5. They are mindbogglingly delicious.

What do you like to bring to bake sales?
With love,
Erica

Ingredients
 
8 tablespoons (1 stick, 4 ounces or 113 grams) butter, melted
1 cup (218 grams or 7 3/4 ounces for light; 238 grams or 8 3/8 ounces for dark) brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Pinch salt
1 cup (4 3/8 ounces or 125 grams) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup butterscotch chips
1/3 cup chocolate chips

  1. Butter an 8×8 pan
  2. Mix melted butter with brown sugar – beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla.
  3. Add salt, stir in flour. Mix in any additions.
  4. Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350°F 20-25 minutes, or until set in
    the middle. I always err on the side of caution with baking times —
    nobody ever complained about a gooey-middled cookie. Cool on rack before
    cutting them.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

apple brownies

Last
weekend, we bought some beautiful honeycrisp apples from the farmer’s
market. They have been sitting on the counter, looking all shiny and
pretty for the past few days. My dad loves apple pie, and now that it is
officially fall, I felt that I should bake him one.

However,
the thought of making a pie crust on a Tuesday night didn’t excite me
— and the thought of using store bought crust for the first pie of the
year made me a bit sad. So, I made these apple brownies — and everyone was excited and no one was sad.

I clipped this recipe from the back of Living. I
often find my recipes on Pinterest and other recipe blogs, so I always
feel good when I bake something from a clipping or cookbook. It makes me
feel a bit old fashioned, a bit rustic, a bit more self-sufficient.
Plus, it helps with the “sticky keyboard” issues I often encounter.

These
brownies are a cinch to make — I whipped these brownies up even faster
than the chocolate version (dare I say these brownies are as delicious
as my super-fudgy chocolate version?!).
They are moist, tasty, and loaded with fall flavor. They have a flaky
crust, just like chocolate brownies, but are full of soft crumbs and
sweet apple chunks. Plus, these are super easy to slice and ea: no mess, no forks, no hassle – making them perfect for back to school bake sales.

I never understood the whole “bring-your-teacher-an-apple” phenomenon. Why do elementary teachers use the apple motif of everything?! After making these brownies, I finally understood. Bring some of these to class, and you will be the teacher’s pet. Guaranteed. 

With love,
Erica


Ingredients

  • 1 stick salted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for dish

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

  • 2 large firm-sweet apples (about 1 pound total), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (2 3/4 cups)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in center position. Generously butter an 8-by-11-inch baking dish.

  2. Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and
    baking soda in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, beat together butter,
    sugar, and egg with a mixer until pale, about 2 minutes. Add walnuts and
    apples, and stir by hand until combined. Add flour mixture, and stir
    until combined, about 30 seconds more.

  3. Spread batter in pan, and bake until golden brown and
    slightly firm, about 40 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack 30 minutes,
    then cut into 12 bars.

Bars can be stored in an airtight container up to 5 days.

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Living , October 2012