Maple Molasses Cookies

Don’t save maple flavors just for fall! One of my coworkers was kind enough to recently gift me with a whole quart of maple syrup, plus there are all kinds of maple tree tapping festivals finishing up around Ohio. The combination of those two things led to the birth of Maple Molasses cookies. Being the Cookie Monster that I am, I cannot resist molasses cookies anytime of year, but the addition of maple syrup puts them over the edge. I hereby banish thee, over-baked, too crispy confections; these gems are soft and chewy, just like a cookie should be. Make sure not to skip rolling them in granulated sugar – you’ll want that textured sugar sparkle on the exterior!

Maple Molasses Cookies

Yield: 30 cookies

Ingredients
2 and 1/4 cups flour
1 and 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1 and 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 c. maple syrup
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Begin by mixing together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together in a large bowl until well-combined; set aside. In a second large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar together with a mixer, until the sugar is incorporated into the butter. Next, using a rubber spatula, fold in the molasses, maple syrup, egg, and vanilla until incorporated.

Using the mixer again, slowly add the dry ingredients from the flour mixture into the molasses mixture until combined. Place the bowl of dough into the fridge for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, remove the dough from the fridge. Roll dough into balls, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place the remaining 1/4 c. sugar in a small bowl. Then, roll each ball in the sugar and place them on cookie sheets greased with cooking spray. Bake for 9-10 minutes or until dough is just set. Allow the cookies to cool completely and then store in a covered container; they stay surprisingly soft and fresh for days!

Have a favorite comfort cookie recipe? I love hearing from you. Send me a message and let me know your go-to dessert source.

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction: Seriously Soft Molasses Cookies

Looking for more dessert recipes? Try a few of my favorites:

1. Top Secret Chocolate Chip Cookies
2. Sugar Cookie Peach Cobbler
3. Sweet and Salty Cookie Skillets

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Maple Molasses Cookies
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 30
 
Don't save maple flavors for fall! One of my coworkers was kind enough to recently gift me with a whole quart of maple syrup, plus there are all kinds of maple tree tapping festivals finishing up around Ohio. The combination of those two things led to the birth of Maple Molasses cookies. Being the Cookie Monster that I am, I cannot resist molasses cookies anytime of year, but the addition of maple syrup puts them over the edge. I hereby banish thee, over-baked, too crispy confections; these gems are soft and chewy, just like a cookie should be. Make sure not to skip rolling them in granulated sugar - you'll want that textured sugar sparkle on the exterior!
Ingredients
  • 2¼ cups flour
  • 1½ tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1½ sticks butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ c. maple syrup
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ cup sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Begin by mixing together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together in a large bowl until well-combined.
  3. In a second large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar together with a mixer, until the sugar is incorporated into the butter.
  4. Next, using a rubber spatula, fold in the molasses, maple syrup, egg, and vanilla until incorporated.
  5. Using the mixer again, slowly add the dry ingredients from the flour mixture into the molasses mixture until combined.
  6. Place the bowl of dough into the fridge for 1 hour.
  7. After 1 hour, remove the dough from the fridge.
  8. Roll dough into balls, about 1½ inches in diameter.
  9. Place the remaining ¼ c. sugar in a small bowl.
  10. Then, roll each ball in the sugar and place them on cookie sheets greased with cooking spray.
  11. Bake for 9-10 minutes or until dough is just set.
  12. Allow the cookies to cool completely and then store in a covered container; they stay surprisingly soft and fresh for days!

 

Third Birthday Extravaganza: Highlights, News, + More Truth Talk

How have I been blogging for 3 years already? This fact alone makes me feel pretty elderly. This post will be the 169th here on Columbus Culinary Connection. To be honest, some weeks I’ve been chomping at the bit to get my thoughts down on paper; others, it has been hard to make myself sit down and write. But I’ve loved every minute of connecting with each of you.

To shake things up a little bit, I’m in the process of working on a website redesign, and I can’t wait to share the end result. Hang in there if a link is down during the process or if the site’s formatting isn’t quite right. My husband is uber-talented at teaching himself WordPress, and he created this current website plus the one to come. There will be more pictures, more searchable posts, and more opportunities to connect. One thing I’m most excited about is the Caroline Currently page, which will be a live, ever-changing page of what’s happening now: what I’m craving, what’s trending in town, recipes I can’t stop making, and answers to questions submitted by you.

In honor of this anniversary, I also need to take some time to laugh at myself and how far I’ve come. Specifically, in the area of photography. I don’t have a “real” camera, and so it’s been fun to see how much my skills at capturing food with my cell phone have improved. Practice makes perfect, as has reading books and articles on this subject. I have to credit The Wonder Jam too, for their fun and informative class on honing that prowess. When I first started blogging, I didn’t have an Instagram account (now my biggest social media following by far) and I naively didn’t fathom how essential taking good photographs is to putting out quality posts. Just take a peek at some “then” and “now” comparisons below. I still have a lot of work to do, but some of these early shots are downright laughable. Too many filters, bad lighting and props, and so much blurriness.

Cookie Skillets: before and after

Click here to see the full Cookie Skillets recipe.

101 Beer Kitchen: why did I think would anyone care about the sign?

Read more about 101 Beer Kitchen.

Rockmill Brewery: wasn’t doing this beautiful spot justice

Learn more about Rockmill Brewery here.

Sugar Cookie Peach Cobbler: do I even need to explain this one?

Click here to see the Sugar Cookie Peach Cobbler recipe.

Lava Cakes: note the shadow and salt shakers in the corner…

Lastly, I wanted to share with you the all-time top five posts on the blog. Of course, you all love Fox in the Snow (how could you not) but some were surprising. Who knew so many of you shared my obsession with white BBQ sauce? Here are the 5 most visited blog posts to date:

Thank you as always for following along with my food journey. I’m incredibly humbled when someone takes the time to read content I’ve produced. Please let me know what kinds of posts you love best, so I can focus on those topics this year. Or shoot me a message and just say hi!

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Caprese Prosciutto Cups

Caprese Prosciutto Cups

I’m crazy for Caprese! I love Caprese sandwiches, Caprese kebobs, Caprese pizza, salad, you name it. That got a little too Bubba Gump shrimp, but you get the point. I’m always looking for a new way to devour the tomato, basil, and cheese combo, so for Christmas this year I developed this bite-sized version. Minimal effort is required, but this fancy-looking appetizer is a sure-fire hit.

Caprese Prosciutto Cups

Yield: 24 mini cups

Ingredients

2 packages prosciutto, 12 slices
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 container mini mozzarella balls
1 T. basil, chopped
3 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. olive oil
Salt and pepper for seasoning

Begin by preheating the oven to 375 degrees. Next, separate the prosciutto slices and cut each in half crosswise to create 24 squares. Tuck each slice into the holes of a mini muffin tin, pressing the edges as high up on the sides of the holes as possible to create a cup shape. The prosciutto will shrink considerably in the oven. Bake the prosciutto shells for 7-9 minutes until firm and crispy. Place them on paper towels to drain any excess grease.

While the prosciutto is baking, slice the mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes in half. After the prosciutto cups are completely cooled, fill each prosciutto cup with a mozzarella half and a tomato half. Drizzle the oil and the balsamic over each of the cups, then sprinkle on basil, salt, and pepper to taste.

Do you have a go-to Caprese recipe? Share a link with your favorite one in the comments below!

Keep Connected,

Caroline

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Caprese Prosciutto Cups
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
 
Ingredients
  • 2 packages prosciutto, 12 slices
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 container mini mozzarella balls
  • 1 T. basil, chopped
  • 3 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
Instructions
  1. Begin by preheating the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Next, separate the prosciutto slices and cut each in half crosswise to create 24 squares.
  3. Tuck each slice into the holes of a mini muffin tin, pressing the edges as high up on the sides off the holes as possible to create a cup shape. The prosciutto will shrink considerably in the oven.
  4. Bake the prosciutto shells for 7-9 minutes until firm and crispy.
  5. Place them on paper towels to drain any excess grease.
  6. While the prosciutto is baking, slice the mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes in half.
  7. After the prosciutto cups are completely cooled, fill each prosciutto cup with a mozzarella half and a tomato half.
  8. Drizzle the oil and the balsamic over each of the cups, then sprinkle on basil, salt, and pepper to taste.

 

Mistletoe Mimosas

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…a cheery cocktail with sparkling cranberry? These merry mimosas are perfect for Christmas brunch and holiday parties, and are just as tasty as they are festive. This drink comes together in just a few minutes, so you’ll have plenty of extra time to enjoy gift-wrapping and cookie-baking.

Mistletoe Mimosas

 

Yield: 6 cocktails

Ingredients:

1 bottle of your favorite champagne
7 oz. cranberry juice
3 oz. orange liqueur (such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier)
Rosemary springs and fresh cranberries, to garnish
Sugar or sprinkles for rimming glass

Start by rimming glasses. Place sugar or sprinkles on a saucer or shallow dish. Pour 1 oz. of cranberry juice in a small bowl, and dip the rim of the champagne flute in the juice. Continue to hold the glass upside down, then swirl the edge of the flute in the sugar or sprinkles to coat the rim of the glass.

In each of the six rimmed champagne flutes, pour 1/2 oz. of the orange liqueur in the bottom. Next, add 1 oz. of cranberry juice to each flute. Fill the remainder of each glass with champagne. Float a rosemary spring in the top of each cocktail and plop a few cranberries in to garnish.

 

Cheers to the new year!

Keep Connected,

Caroline

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Mistletoe Mimosas
 
Ingredients
  • 1 bottle of your favorite champagne
  • 7 oz. cranberry juice
  • 3 oz. orange liqueur (such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier)
  • Rosemary springs and fresh cranberries, to garnish
  • Sugar or sprinkles for rimming glass
Instructions
  1. Start by rimming glasses.
  2. Place sugar or sprinkles on a saucer or shallow dish.
  3. Pour 1 oz. of cranberry juice in a small bowl, and dip the rim of the champagne flute in the juice.
  4. Continue to hold the glass upside down, then swirl the edge of the flute in the sugar or sprinkles to coat the rim of the glass.
  5. In each of the six rimmed champagne flutes, pour ½ oz. of the orange liqueur in the bottom.
  6. Next, add 1 oz. of cranberry juice to each flute.
  7. Fill the remainder of each glass with champagne.
  8. Float a rosemary spring in the top of each cocktail and plop a few cranberries in as well to garnish.

 

Apple Pie French Toast

When I opt for a sweet brunch over a savory one, French toast is one of my go-to selections. But who has time to make French toast through the week? Not this girl. So discovering overnight French toast in casserole form has been a breakfast lifesaver. This recipe is almost like a bread pudding (with syrup as the topping) and the addition of a favorite fall flavor: apple pie. Top this creation with some local Middle West Spirits bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup for an extra tasty treat.

Apple Pie French Toast

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:

1 loaf of thickly sliced cinnamon bread (I use Great Harvest cinnamon chip, but one of the thick-cut Pepperidge Farm varieties will work well too)
1/2 c. brown sugar
6 eggs
2 c. milk (i used 2%)
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 20 oz. can of apple pie filling
Optional: 2/3 c. salted caramel or butterscotch chips (I found the caramel ones at Kroger)
Syrup, for topping

Apple Pie French Toast

Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with cooking spray and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Next, tear or cut bread slices into 1 inch chunks and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, milk, cream, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Then fold in the apple pie filling to the egg mixture. Spread bread cubes into casserole dish in an even layer and pour egg mixture over top, making sure to distribute apple chunks evenly throughout dish. If desired, top the casserole with the butterscotch or caramel chips for a caramel apple twist. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the top of the casserole is golden and center is set. Cover casserole with foil during baking if the top begins to brown too much.

Apple Pie Overnight French Toast

Refrigerate the cooled, baked casserole. The next morning, cut into squares and microwave individually for a decadent breakfast. Add a syrup drizzle for a meal that even your most autumn-obsessed friend will enjoy!

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Apple Pie French Toast
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 loaf of thickly  sliced cinnamon bread
  • ½ c. brown sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 c. milk (i used 2%)
  • ½ c. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 20 oz. can of apple pie filling
  • Optional: ⅔ c. salted caramel or butterscotch chips
  • Syrup, for topping
Instructions
  1. Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with cooking spray and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Next, tear or cut bread slices into 1 inch chunks and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, milk, cream, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.
  4. Then fold in the apple pie filling to egg mixture.
  5. Spread bread cubes into casserole dish in an even layer and pour egg mixture over top, making sure to distribute apple chunks evenly throughout dish.
  6. If desired, top the casserole with the butterscotch or caramel chips for a caramel apple twist.
  7. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the top of the casserole is golden and center is set.
  8. Cover casserole with foil during baking if top begins to brown too much.
  9. Refrigerate the cooled, baked casserole.
  10. The next morning, cut into squares and microwave individually for a decadent breakfast.
  11. Add a syrup drizzle for a meal that even your most autumn-obsessed friend will enjoy!

 

Brie Burgers with Bacon-Date Aioli

At my house, summer equals grilling multiple times a week. Burgers are especially easy to pull together for a weeknight meal, so I had to add a burger recipe to this collection. Shout out to one of my favorite burgers in town, the One Red Door burger at Flip Side, as the inspiration for this dish. This concoction hits all the notes you want with a burger: cheesy, salty, crunchy, juicy, and just a dash of sweet. The bacon-date aioli will make you swoon, and why aren’t more restaurants using brie on their burgers? It melts beautifully and pairs with so many garnishes. I used the leftover aioli to make the best grilled cheese ever, so save a little extra if you can manage it. I can also think of about a dozen more things I’d like to slather the bacon spread on – it’s that mouthwatering!

I used Jennie-O’s turkey burgers for the recipe, since if the burger is healthier, you can pile on more toppings. Also, because the patties are pre-seasoned and can be grilled straight from frozen, no thawing or prep is required. Get the scoop below:

Brie Burgers with Bacon-Date Aioli

Yield: 6 large burgers

Ingredients:

For the aioli:
10 pitted dates, I used Medjool dates
5 slices bacon, cooked until crispy
3/4 c. mayo

For the burgers:
1 c. fresh arugula
6-8 oz. brie cheese, sliced
1/3 c. French’s Crispy Fried Onions (you know, the kind that goes on green bean casserole)
6 cooked patties of your favorite burger recipe or Jennie-O turkey burgers
6 burger buns, toasted

Start by making the aioli. Combine all ingredients in a food processor, blending until well-incorporated. Refrigerate and set aside to assemble burgers.

Cook your burgers according to package or recipe instructions. Right before the burgers are finished cooking, place strips of brie cheese on top so the cheese is melted; this helps the cheese act as the glue for assembly. Place cooked patties on bottom burger bun. Top burger with fried onions, then arugula. Smear desired amount of aioli on top bun, then sandwich together the two burger halves and devour.

Get your summer grilling on, and find out more about Jennie-O frozen turkey burgers here: https://www.jennieo.com/products/collection/22-burgers.

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Disclosure: Jennie-O sent me these burgers to try. Any opinions expressed within this post are my own unbiased views.

Brie Burgers with Bacon-Date Aioli
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
For the aioli:
  • 10 pitted dates, I used Medjool dates
  • 5 slices bacon, cooked until crispy
  • ¾ c. mayo
For the burgers:
  • 1 c. fresh arugula
  • 6-8 oz. brie cheese, sliced
  • ⅓ c. French's Crispy Fried Onions (you know, the kind that goes on green bean casserole)
  • 6 cooked patties of your favorite burger recipe or Jennie-O turkey burgers
  • 6 burger buns, toasted
Instructions
  1. Start by making the aioli. Combine all ingredients in a food processor, blending until well-incorporated.
  2. Refrigerate and set aside to assemble burgers.
  3. Cook your burgers according to package or recipe instructions.
  4. Right before the burgers are finished cooking, place strips of brie cheese on top so the cheese is melted.
  5. Place cooked patties on bottom burger bun. Top burger with fried onions, then arugula.
  6. Smear desired amount of aioli on top bun, then sandwich together the two burger halves and devour.

 

Balsamic Roasted Grape Pizza

Balsamic Roasted Grape Pizza

My current craving as summer approaches: fruit on savory pizza. Fruit pizza for dessert (you know the one, with the cream cheese layer and sugar cookie crust) is divine, but I’m fancying fruit this season as a topping for a dinner pizza. Figs, dates, and apples are all great additions to flatbreads to add sweetness and texture, but grapes are great because they retain their juice even after roasting. This pizza is a snap to assemble and will disappear in a snap too. Grilling the crust would also be tasty for a quick meal, or cut the pie into bite size pieces for a party appetizer.

Roasted Grape Pizza

Yield: 4 mini pizzas

Ingredients:

For the grapes:
1 1/2 c. seedless red grapes
3 T. balsamic vinegar
3 T. olive oil

For the pizza:
4 – 8 inch prepared pizza crusts (I used pre-packaged mini crusts from Kroger, but feel free to make your own or buy the kind in the tube and roll them out)
1 c. ricotta cheese, divided into 4 portions
2 T. olive oil
2 T. chopped fresh basil
3 T. chopped fresh chives
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 c. mozzarella
1/4 c. grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray, spread out grapes. Drizzle on oil and vinegar, toss grapes in mixture to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast the grapes for 10-15 minutes until the skins are just beginning to burst, stirring once halfway through. Allow the grapes to cool.

Balsamic Roasted Grape Pizza

On each pre-baked crust, spread an even layer of the divided ricotta. Drizzle the oil atop the ricotta layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Next add the mozzarella and Parmesan, then top the cheeses with the garlic and the herbs. Finally distribute the grapes in an even layer, dividing them between the 4 pizzas. Bake the mini pizzas for 15 minutes in the 425 degree oven, until cheese is melted. Cut and serve!

I know grapes might sound crazy, but they add a stellar pop of sweetness. Shovel in every bite and let me know when you try the recipe; find my social channels here: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Balsamic Roasted Grape Pizza
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
For the grapes:
  • 1½ c. seedless red grapes
  • 3 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 3 T. olive oil
For the pizza:
  • 4 - 8 inch prepared pizza crusts (I used pre-packaged mini crusts from Kroger, but feel free to make your own or buy the kind in the tube and roll them out)
  • 1 c. ricotta cheese, divided into 4 portions
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. chopped fresh basil
  • 3 T. chopped fresh chives
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ c. mozzarella
  • ¼ c. grated Parmesan
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. On a rimmed baked sheet sprayed with cooking spray, spread out grapes.
  3. Drizzle on oil and vinegar, toss grapes in mixture to coat.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Roast the grapes for 10-15 minutes until the skins just beginning to burst, stirring once halfway through.
  6. Allow the grapes to cool.
  7. On each pre-baked crust, spread an even layer of the divided ricotta.
  8. Drizzle the oil atop the ricotta layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  9. Next add the mozzarella and Parmesan, then top the cheeses with the garlic and the herbs.
  10. Finally distribute the grapes in an even layer, dividing them between the 4 pizzas.
  11. Bake the mini pizzas for 15 minutes in the 425 degree oven, until cheese is melted. Cut and serve!

 

Magic Chocolate Stout Cake

Magic Chocolate Stout Cake

When I went away to college, I knew one of the things I would miss the most was my mom’s cooking. So that I could attempt (the key word is “attempt”) to recreate some of our family’s meals, my mom created what has become my Bible, a handwritten collection of my favorite recipes in a spiral bound notebook. Included in her guide was this recipe for “pudding cake.” The version below is adapted from my mom’s, replacing the water in the original recipe with stout beer. I call it magic cake, because the cake creates its own hot fudge sauce during the baking process, making it the ideal treat to serve with ice cream. I love the coffee richness that the stout brings, and it’s a snazzy dessert to throw together at the last minute – it doesn’t even require eggs!

Mom's Cookbook

 

Ingredients:

For the cake:
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch salt
1/2 cup milk
2 T. melted butter

For the topping:
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cup of your favorite stout beer

Start by preheating oven to 350 degrees, and spraying a 9×9 inch square pan with nonstick spray. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients for the cake: the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Mix well to incorporate, and then slowly add in melted butter to dry ingredients, followed by the milk. Spread the cake mixture into the bottom of the 9×9 pan. In another bowl, mix the 1/4 cup cocoa powder and the brown sugar. Sprinkle this topping evenly over the cake batter. Next, microwave the stout for approximately 2 minutes, until just warm. Then pour warmed beer over the topping and cake mixtures. Bake the cake for approximately 40 minutes until cake portion is set. There will still be a “sauce” underneath the cake that will not set. Top with whipped cream or your favorite ice cream and serve warm.

Chocolate Stout Cake

Magic Chocolate Stout Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
For the cake:
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 T. melted butter
For the topping:
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1¾ cup of your favorite stout beer
Instructions
  1. Start by preheating oven to 350 degrees, and spraying a 9x9 inch square pan with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients for the cake: the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Mix well to incorporate, and then slowly add in melted butter to dry ingredients, followed by the milk.
  4. Spread the cake mixture into the bottom of the 9x9 pan.
  5. In another bowl, mix the ¼ cup cocoa powder and the brown sugar.
  6. Sprinkle this topping evenly over the cake batter.
  7. Next, microwave the stout for approximately 2 minutes, until just warm.
  8. Then pour warmed beer over the topping and cake mixtures.
  9. Bake the cake for approximately 40 minutes until cake portion is set.
  10. There will still be a "sauce" underneath the cake that will not set.
  11. Top with whipped cream or your favorite ice cream and serve warm.

 

2 Year Anniversary Spectacular: My Favorite Posts So Far

I’ll be writing more about this for the March newsletter (Click here to sign up for the newsletter), but this week Columbus Culinary Connection celebrated its 2 year anniversary! 131 blog posts, 4,200 Instagram (@cbusconnect) followers, and 8.3 million pounds of cheese later, I’m still enjoying being a food blogger. It’s forced me outside my comfort zone in tasting new cuisine, but also in making new relationships. It’s been a creative outlet, and given me a greater appreciation for Columbus and all things Ohio. I’ve enjoyed looking back at the posts I’ve written over the past two years, and daydreaming about the places I’ve visited, and of course the food I’ve devoured up to this point. Here are some of my absolute favorites!

Rockmill Brewery

http://columbusculinaryconnection.com/rockmill-brewery-review/
Rockmill Brewery

One of my very first posts, Rockmill is still a place that has a certain magic for me. The countless good times on the brewery’s grounds and in the idyllic horse barn-turned-taproom make this a spot I’ll always go again and again.

Kittie’s Cakes

http://columbusculinaryconnection.com/kitties-cakes/
http://columbusculinaryconnection.com/kitties-cakes-bexley/
Kittie's Cakes

The original German Village location and the new Bexley Kittie’s cafe have some of my favorite treats in town. Bacon cheddar scones, immense Facecookies, and shop mascot Linus the Golden Retriever make Kittie’s a must-try bakery.

My Family’s Christmas Cookies

http://columbusculinaryconnection.com/christmas-cookie-recipe/
Christmas Cookies

My mom was the guest writer for this post, and she’s the reason I am crazy about cooking. It’s one of my all-time favorite family traditions, and it’s been fabulous seeing so many other people take her recipe and incorporate it into their own holiday customs.

A Visit to: Biltmore Estate

http://columbusculinaryconnection.com/biltmore-estate/
The Biltmore Estate

I love exploring, and have embraced my inner history nerd. Our mini vacation to Biltmore Estate let me combine my admiration for both fine dining and Downton Abbey, and I loved every second of it. I also used this post as a template for my Charleston Gazette article, another writing opportunity that blogging has afforded me!

Fox in the Snow Cafe

http://columbusculinaryconnection.com/fox-in-the-snow-cafe/
Fox in the Snow Cafe

The effort put into blogging is worth it soley because I learned about Fox in the Snow through blogger friends. What had I been missing? Only the cutest animal logo in town and some heavenly custard-filled donuts.

Neighborhood Spotlight: Grandview Heights

http://columbusculinaryconnection.com/neighborhood-spotlight-grandview-heights/
Sweet Carrot and Zauber Beers in Grandview

It’s been great seeing so many new foodie destinations pop up in Grandview recently, and there are some classic oldie but goodie spots as well. There’s something for every palette in this Columbus ‘burb. I need to get around to making another neighborhood dining guide soon.

Por’Ketta Food Truck

http://columbusculinaryconnection.com/porketta-food-truck/
Porketta Food Truck

I love the ease and variety that food truck dining brings, and I tend to seek out my favorites time and again. Por’Ketta’s family business is doing some really fun things, and my adoration has not waned even after eating that chicken sandwich a hundred times.

Top Secret Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

http://columbusculinaryconnection.com/chocolate-chip-cookies/
Chocolate Chip Cookies

The secret is the cheesecake pudding! Trust me on this – it’s been my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe for years. It makes the softest, tastiest cookies imaginable.

5 Queso Dishes to Try

http://columbusculinaryconnection.com/carolines-picks-5-queso-dishes-try/
Bodega Columbus: Loaded Truffle Fries

I have to end this round-up with another round-up! When you can list some of your most beloved restaurants in one cheese-laden post, i.e.  Hudson 29, Condado Tacos, and Bodega, what isn’t to love? I have a whole category on the blog of 5 to Try posts, when you’re in need of a quick reference guide.

Thanks for being on this journey with me! Cheers to another year of bacon and blogging.

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Banana Berry Smoothie Bowls

Banana Berry Smoothie Bowls

I’ve been loving the recent trend of smoothie bowls lately. Columbus has a noteworthy smoothie bowl scene, with the always tasty Alchemy, as well as Zest and Native Cold Pressed. But these bowl beauties are a snap to assemble at home. Blended fruit in a spoonable form allows for more toppings, and let’s face it, that’s the part that everyone really wants! These banana berry bowls are a dish that’s BLD-worthy (breakfast, lunch, or dinner approved), and the colors are perfectly Instagram-ready. It’s an ideal way to keep a meal on the lighter side, but not give up the fun factor.

Banana Berry Smoothie Bowls

Yield: 2 bowls

Ingredients:

For the bowl:
8 oz bag of frozen mixed berries (I used a bag of Kroger Very Berry Smoothie Blend)
2 frozen bananas, cut into chunks
1/4 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. milk

For the toppings:
1/4 c. peanut butter, melted in microwave
2 T. chia seeds
4 T. large flake coconut
Dried cranberries, chopped strawberries or bananas, slivered almonds, granola, mini chocolate chips, or any other toppings you desire

In a high-speed blender or food processor, start by combining the frozen bananas and frozen mixed berries. Pulse until the mixture is in pea-sized clumps. Then, add the peanut butter and the milk, blending until the mixture is completely smooth and very thick.

Blending ingredients for Banana Berry Smoothie Bowls

Scoop the smoothie mixture into two separate bowls for serving. Load each bowl up with your chosen toppings, dividing each item between the two bowls and arranging each topping in its own section of the bowl. I won’t tell if you add extra melted peanut butter! Swirl the whole thing together before eating and enjoy immediately.

Banana Berry Smoothie Bowls

PS: I got the frozen banana hack from http://minimalistbaker.com/ – it gives the smoothie a creamy soft-serve consistency.

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Banana Berry Smoothie Bowls
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
For the bowl:
  • 8 oz bag of frozen mixed berries (I used a Kroger Very Berry smoothie blend bag)
  • 2 frozen bananas, cut into chunks
  • ¼ c. peanut butter
  • ¼ c. milk
For the toppings:
  • ¼ c. peanut butter, melted in microwave
  • 2 T. chia seeds
  • 4 T. large flake coconut
Instructions
  1. In a high-speed blender or food processor, start by combining the frozen bananas and frozen mixed berries.
  2. Pulse until the mixture is in pea-sized clumps.
  3. Then, add the peanut butter and the milk, blending until the mixture is completely smooth and very thick.
  4. Scoop the smoothie mixture into two separate bowls for serving.
  5. Load each bowl up with your chosen toppings, dividing each item between the two bowls and arranging each topping in its own section of the bowl.
  6. Swirl the whole thing together before eating and enjoy immediately.