New and Improved!

I’ve moved!

I’m so excited to finally reveal the new look of BranAppetit, and I hope you’ll join me there!

Make sure to update your Google readers and/or blogrolls to:



Here’s to another year of good eating Smile


Brownie Batter Bites



What do you do when a pan of brownies doesn’t turn out right?

I tried out a new recipe a few days ago for toffee brownies, and while they tasted delicious, they weren’t exactly the fudgy texture I was looking for.


So there they were – a 9×13 pan of perfectly fine cooked brownies, sitting on my counter, waiting to be eaten. Only I knew we wouldn’t eat them as they were. And I didn’t want to throw the entire pan into the garbage.

And then I had an idea.

Brownies + homemade chocolate icing + chocolate shell.

All in one bite.

A brownie batter flavor and consistency, the best part of brownies, made in a way that won’t make you sick if you eat it (even though I do it anyways).

All I can say is thank goodness for kitchen mishaps because this bad batch of brownies turned into one the best (and messiest and most fun) treats to ever come out of my kitchen.


These brownie bites may be messy, but they’re extremely easy: a pan of fully baked brownies, crumbled, and mixed with frosting. Rolled into balls and covered in chocolate.

But better.

Because the middle really tastes like brownie batter.


They are rich.


They are chocolate, in chocolate, and wrapped around more chocolate.

And they are good.


Brownie Batter Bites

  • 1 9×13 pan of cooked brownies, recipe of choice (I based mine off of this recipe)
  • 16 oz. chocolate frosting of choice – preferably homemade*
  • 2 cups good semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • sprinkles
  1. Once brownies are cooked and completely cooled, crumble the entire pan into a large bowl.
  2. Add frosting to brownie crumbs and mix together. It will be messy, but fun.
  3. Roll into balls (it will make 40-50, depending on the size) and put on a baking sheet in the fridge. Let them rest and settle for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Take out of fridge and melt chocolate.
  5. Coat each brownie bite in melted chocolate, place on foil or wax paper lined baking sheet and douse with sprinkles.
  6. Let sit until chocolate is hardened.

*Homemade Chocolate Frosting

  • 1/2 stick of butter, softened
  • 2.5 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch salt
  1. In large bowl, mix together the sugar and cocoa.
  2. Blend the sugar with the softened butter until light and smooth.
  3. Add in milk, vanilla, and salt until combined.
  4. If it isn’t at your desired frosting consistency, add powdered sugar, a little at a time, until it has thickened up.


Pancakes and Memories

In my almost 28 years of life, there are only 4 Valentine’s Days that I vividly remember.

The first, in 8th grade, involved my very first boyfriend, an embarrassingly huge balloon and a great big stuffed teddy bear that I got to carry around all day at school.

You know, in the 8th grade, Valentine’s Day is such a big deal. You’re past the tiny cartoon cards and it’s all about “showing your love”. Because in the 8th grade, you’re grown. And you know everything and you’re so mature and romantic. Or so you think. Even looking back now and seeing how ridiculous my friends and I were in the 8th grade, it was a fun Valentine’s Day because it was my first time to ever get gifts like that from a boy.

The second one I remember has nothing to do with romance at all. In fact, it has to do with my parents. When my sisters and I were growing up, my parents would always have little gifts for us for Valentine’s Day – candy, earrings, stickers, little toys, things like that. But one year they totally surprised my older sister and me by getting us our very own phone line.

Can you imagine? Our OWN phone line! We could call whoever we wanted, at any time, and not have to share the phone. I could talk to my friends all day long. Or call boys. Or have boys call me. On my own, personal, phone line.

And our phone was incredible. It was a clear phone with neon wires that lit up when it was ringing, like this one.


Pretty sweet, right? I bet Kelly Kapowski had one like this in her room. I’m not exactly sure why this Valentine’s Day has stuck with me, but it’s a fun, yet totally random, memory.

The third Valentine’s Day I remember isn’t exactly romantic, either, but it’s one of many memories I hope I never lose. While this Valentine’s Day celebration began with heart-printed silk boxers as prank gifts for some of our guy friends from church, it ended with a dinner and the first roses I was ever given. All through high school, I participated in District Chorus, and that year, our concert happened to fall on Valentine’s Day. From 8 am until 3 pm that day, I was in rehearsals and was given just enough time to get home, get changed, and get back to the school for the concert at 7 pm that evening.

Since our day was filled, my family ended up going to dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s after the concert was over and we were joined by some very important guys in my life, ones that shaped my world back then and who, while they may not know it, showed me what friendship and love could be and what they should be.

My sister and I made heart shaped brownies to give to the guys, but they topped us that night. They showed up with red roses and baby’s breath for each of us girls: my mom, my sister, me, and my Mammaw. With each flower, they gave us a hug and kiss on the cheek and it was one of the sweetest nights in my high school years.

And finally, the fourth, and most important, Valentine’s Day.

My first real date with Nick.

Nick and I met through mutual friends – he was roommates and best buddies with my guy friends in college from back home, so we knew each other for over a year before we started dating.

Nick wouldn’t ask me out because I had a bad perm (I did) – or so he says ; )

So a few months later, after hanging out as friends, I got rid of the perm and we started hanging out more. And one night, we were at a basketball game with a group of friends and he was telling me how cute he thought my roommate was. Well, I was against that. I wasn’t sure at that point if I thought we would date, but I certainly didn’t want him dating her – if he was going to date anyone, it was going to be me!

When I went back to my room that night, I told her that Nick thought she was cute but that she shouldn’t date him. Turns out, she had just started dating someone else anyways, so it didn’t matter.

But as soon as I thought he liked her, I wanted to date him instead.

So his trick worked. We started hanging out more often and, finally, our first date just happened to land on Valentine’s Day.

He cooked me dinner. Chicken and homemade biscuits.

And that was that. I was a goner.

He could cook! He was funny and sweet and incredibly handsome and he was friends with my friends and he did cool things like rock climbing and skateboarding and I fell head over heels for him in, what felt like, a matter of seconds.

So, yes, I guess you could say good biscuit baking runs in his family. As does tricking girls into going on dates with you and being too cute for their own good.


And while I’m not making chicken and biscuits for our Valentine’s Day breakfast, I did want to do something bigger if for no other reason that it’s Monday morning. But it is also the 9th anniversary of our first date, and that calls for something special.

Besides, when you marry into a family that thrives on breakfast foods, you have to learn fast to hold your own.

I think I’m getting there.


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Pancakes

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp light oil or melted butter
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  1. Mix the oats and buttermilk in a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes, or, ideally, overnight.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Add the beaten egg and oil/butter to the oat and buttermilk mixture and stir together.
  4. Add the oat mixture to the flour mixture, and stir to blend.
  5. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and brush or spray with oil. *Tip: To make sure it’s hot enough, wet your fingers under the faucet and sprinkle a few droplets of water onto the pan. If they sizzle, it’s ready.
  6. Scoop the batter, 1/4 – 1/3 cup at a time onto the pan. *This is where I added the chocolate chips – just drop a few onto the top side of the pancake while the batter is still wet. You could also add berries, nuts, bananas, or any other mix-in you’d like at this point.
  7. When the bottoms are browned and the top is set around the edges, flip the pancakes. Cook until the second side has browned.
  8. Re-spray/grease the skillet if needed, and repeat with the remaining batter. If the pancakes begin to brown too quickly, lower the heat just a bit.
  9. Serve hot, with maple syrup and raspberry sauce.


Raspberry Sauce

  • 5 oz. frozen raspberries
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 Tbsp water
  1. Combine ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
  2. Let cook until raspberries have thawed and broken down and the sauce has thickened slightly.
  3. Serve warm over pancakes, crepes, or ice cream.



Sunday Song-spiration



Oh, tragedy
Has taken so many
Love lost cause they all
Forgot who You were
And it scares me to think
That I would choose
My life over You
Oh, my selfish heart
Divides me from You
It tears us apart

So tell me
What is our ending?
Will it be beautiful
So beautiful?


Oh, why do I
Let myself let go
Of Hands that painted the stars
And hold tears that fall?
And the pride of my heart
Makes me forget
It’s not me but You
Who makes the heart beat
I’m lost without You
And dying from me

So tell me
What is our ending?
Will it be beautiful
So beautiful?


Will my life
Find me by Your side?
Your love is beautiful
So beautiful


At the end of it all
I wanna be in Your arms
At the end of it all
I wanna be in Your arms
At the end of it all
I wanna be in Your arms
At the end of it all
I wanna be in Your arms

So tell me
What is our ending?
Will it be beautiful
So beautiful?


Will my life
Find me by Your side?
‘Cause Your love is beautiful
So beautiful

– “Beautiful Ending”, BarlowGirl


Hope your Sunday was as refreshing and fun and restful as you needed it to be.

Ours was perfect, and we’re spending the evening winding down with big bowls of soup, cuddles with a worn out Maggie, and the Grammy’s so we can see The Avett Brothers perform.

One of Those Days.

Today, I ate my lunch straight out of the tupperware container, standing in the kitchen, looking at the mess around me.


I’m extremely busy, but in the best way.

So far this weekend, I’ve had 2 utter cooking failures (one last night that went into the trash before it was even baked) and another that never worked out this morning.

But – I’ve also had 2 great recipes turn out!

I’d say that’s a good Saturday.


That’s right – The Great Peanut Butter Exhibition is back! And I’m psyched to be a co-host this year!

This year, The Peanut Butter Boy, Living Healthy in the Real World, and Baking and Boys, and I will be sharing the hosting honors for the 10th Great Peanut Butter Exhibition. And, for the third time in a row, there is a stupendous prize package sponsored by the super-famous and always-delicious Peanut Butter & Co.!




The theme for this round is Things are Heating Up. Mother Nature has dumped an extraordinary amount of snow on us this winter and it’s time for some warmth. And nothing provides warmth better than getting cozy with a jar of peanut butter.

So we want to know the most imaginative recipe you can devise in which the peanut butter is warm at some point. This is a wide open theme so get creative, whether it’s a Spicy Toasted Panini, some Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies or a massive pancake topped with peanut butter (and hence, warmed). And extra kudos to those who make their recipe spicy too!

To enter, submit your best peanut butter recipe following the guidelines below. The deadline is Monday, February 28th @ Noon (EST) which gives over 2 weeks (and 3 weekends) to brainstorm, develop and create a smokin’ peanut butter recipe that will change the world forever!

Judging Criteria:

Uniqueness, Peanut Butter Weight, Presentation and Preparation Time.

  • Post and submit your “Things Are Heating Up” recipe by the deadline.
  • Please link to this page from your posted recipe to indicate that you are entering this contest.
  • Pictures are highly recommended but not required.
  • One (1) entry per person so choose wisely.
  • You may use any variety or type of nut butter, however please don’t use brand names in the recipe.

Feel free to use any of the logos on this page, including the following, to link back:

Blogless? Don’t worry if you don’t have a blog, you can still submit your award-winning recipe. Fill out the same form below but leave the “Recipe Permalink” field blank, fill out the “Recipe” box and feel free to attach a picture to go along with the recipe!


Click here to submit your recipe online. Or, email “pbe@peanutbutterboy.com” with “PBE #10″ as the subject and include the following information:Name, Email, Recipe Title, Recipe or Recipe Permalink


All recipes will be displayed but the judges will vote for the Top 3 entries. Each of the Top 3 will receive a badge of pride to display on their site as well as the following prize, courtesy of Peanut Butter & Co.:

“The Big Six” which consists of:

  • 1 Jar PB&Co Smooth Operator
  • 1 Jar PB&Co Crunch Time
  • 1 Jar PB&Co Cinnamon Raisin Swirl
  • 1 Jar PB&Co The Heat is On
  • 1 Jar PB&Co White Chocolate Wonderful
  • 1 Jar PB&Co Dark Chocolate Dreams


Good luck! I can’t wait to see what hot and spicy entries come in this year!

Chocolate Covered Toffee

I’ve been debating whether or not to share this recipe for an entire week.

Do you ever do that with new recipes you’ve come up with? Struggle with the decision to share it or keep it as a secret recipe to yourself?

I haven’t ever had such a hard time with a recipe as I’ve had with this one. But it turned out better than I thought it would.

I knew I couldn’t keep it a secret for long.


This vegan toffee tasted spot on: buttery, rich, sweet and salty.

And while making toffee seems like such a hard thing to do, it’s actually really easy. You just need to have the time to get it cooked to the right temperature and the rest will take care of itself.


Just remember I warned you to use a candy thermometer and don’t go by the color like I did.

Yours will probably turn out even better than mine if you do things the right way.


Put Earth Balance, sugar, water, and salt in a saucepan and heat on medium high heat until melted.



Bring to a boil and let cook until mixture reaches a hard crack stage (about 290-300 degrees).


Nick and I have made regular (non-vegan) toffee as Christmas gifts the past two years and have found that going by the color is better than the temperature. We burned our very first batch, but again – the temperature is the best way to do it! Just make sure you’re also paying attention to the color and smell of the candy.

This part will take 10-15 minutes.



Once your toffee is to the right temperature (or color), take off the heat and stir in the vanilla.


The mixture will bubble up quite a bit when you stir in the vanilla – that’s okay!


After the vanilla is mixed in, pour your toffee onto a parchment lined baking sheet and spread out into an even layer.


Let the toffee sit 20-30 minutes or until hardened.


Heat chocolate in microwave and spread onto toffee.


Once the chocolate has set, break toffee into bite size pieces.


Chocolate Covered Toffee – Vegan!

  • 1 cup Earth Balance
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks
  1. Put Earth Balance, sugar, water, and salt in a saucepan and heat on medium high heat until melted.
  2. Bring to a boil and let cook until mixture reaches a soft crack stage (about 285 degrees). This will take 10-15 minutes.
  3. Once your toffee is to the right temperature (or color), take off the heat and stir in the vanilla. The mixture will bubble up quite a bit when you stir in the vanilla – that’s okay!
  4. After the vanilla is mixed in, pour your toffee onto a parchment lined baking sheet and spread out into an even layer.
  5. Let the toffee sit 20-30 minutes or until hardened.
  6. Heat chocolate in microwave and spread onto toffee.
  7. Once the chocolate has set, break toffee into bite size pieces.

Yogurt Winner + House Update

Our new rug is here!

Remember this picture? You can’t really see the rug, but it’s a green, braided, country-type rug. Not exactly what we wanted in our front room, especially in the new house with the extra space and opportunity to do something different.


It wasn’t large enough and didn’t bring any other colors into the room, either. Nick and I shopped in stores and online for a few weeks right around Christmas, looking for a new rug that would fit this room and bring in some new colors.

And I think we found it!


We got this Linden Street Cavalier Rug from JCPenney online for a steal!


Because it’s on closeout, this 5×8 rug was only $111, plus we got 2 small rugs for the entry way and in front of the hall doorway for $30!

I love that it’s not a super formal oriental type rug but that it still has a nice print without being too contemporary. This front room IS the more “formal” space, with the fireplace and no television, but we want it to feel comfortable – not stuffy. We want everything in the room to feel cozy – this is where we are when we have family over, when we’re reading or on the computer, and when Nick is practicing guitar.


So much better, right?

It’s actually not as big as we would have liked, but the next size up would have been too big for the space.

I’m just so happy to have some more color in the room.

The next thing I want for this room is this pillow:


The Hodgepodge from Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

The colors look a little different online, so it’s hard to tell, but the red is the same color that’s in the rug and so is the blue (it’s darker in person). Plus, it has the beiges from the rug and couch AND it would bring in some orange and purple (which looks brown in this picture).

Then we want new end tables, possibly a new set of chairs (one for each side of the fireplace), bookshelves, and lamps…eventually.

I know we can’t get everything at one time, and I think we’re doing a good job so far of moving slowly with our projects.


And now – the yogurt prize pack winner!

Sarah @ The Smart Kitchen

When I was growing up, it was definitely strawberry-banana. No question.

But nowadays, I tend to stick with plain.

Ever since I discovered goat’s milk yogurt though…well THAT’s my favorite flavor. :)

Congrats Sarah! Please email me at branappetit [at] gmail and your prize pack will be on its way!


Thanks to everyone who entered – it’s fun hearing all of your favorite yogurt flavors. There’s a lot I’ve never tried!

Dough Ball Envy


I first tried Annie the Baker’s Dough Balls at the Foodbuzz Festival’s Tasting Pavilion in 2009, and her toffee milk chocolate chip dough balls were love at first bite.

Then recipes started floating around and I remembered just how good they were. Plus, Danica has them all the time and it’s just not fair ; ) Every time I see them, I want them more!


So after drooling over recipe after recipe online, I decided to finally make my own.


While these aren’t the same as her toffee milk chocolate chip dough balls, these are just as tasty. The roasted almond butter and dark chocolate chips give these cookies a deep, rich quality that makes them irresistible.

And they are rich – very rich and very sweet – but you’ll be fighting for the last one, no matter how many you’ve already eaten.


In fact, I think it’s time I make some more. I only I had 3 out of this batch, and Nick ate the rest.

I told you he was a cookie monster.


Almond Butter and Dark Chocolate Cookie Balls

Slightly Adapted from Mama Pea’s Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Balls

Makes 24 cookie balls

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup almond butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1.5 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  1. Cream together butter and sugars.
  2. Mix in almond butter and vanilla.
  3. Beat in baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Add flour to sugar mixture and mix until combined.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Chill dough for 30 minutes – 1 hour.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  8. Take dough by the tablespoon and roll into a ball. Place on baking sheet 2 inches apart and bake 12 minutes.
  9. Let them sit on the pan for a minute before moving to a cooling rack.


Remember a few weeks ago when I had that CSN giveaway and asked you guys to tell me what recipes you’d like to see me make?

Well, thanks to YOU, I now have a full page of ideas (double sided) and I’m happy to say that this is the first off of that list.

There are a few dishes that still scare me when I think about making them on my own. Things like chicken pot pie, homemade pastas, and the ever elusive perfectly-even layer cake.

But it’s those dishes that are inherently southern that really get me.

Sure, I grew up in Virginia, but I didn’t grow up eating chicken ‘n’ dumplings. The closest I got to having them was at Cracker Barrel, and I knew I could make my own version that tasted better and was healthier for me, too.


If you like your dumplings thinner and more like a thick pasta, these are not for you.

These dumplings are thick and doughy and perfectly tender, with a slight tang from the buttermilk. Almost like biscuits without the butter.

I still may be lacking in my deep-south cooking adventures, but I’m getting there. And make sure you’re ready to put these in your regular dinner rotation – it was love at first bite for me and Nick.


Chicken ‘n’ Dumplings

  • 1 lb. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cups broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • .5 tsp pepper


  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Heat oven to 350. Sprinkle chicken with some salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 1 hour.

While chicken is roasting, heat large pot over medium heat.

Add olive oil, carrots, celery, onion, salt and pepper and saute until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.



Sprinkle veggies with flour and stir to combine.




Once you can no longer see any white flour and the veggies have a gummy-looking coating, pour in your broth and water, a little at a time, stirring constantly.


Each time you add the broth and water, the coating on the veggies will release a bit more, helping to thicken the cooking liquid.

Once all the broth and water have been added, bring mixture to a boil and let simmer for 15 minutes.


In separate bowl, mix your dry ingredients for the dumplings.


Pour in the buttermilk and stir until dough just comes together (it will be a little sticky – that’s perfect!).

Right before you add your dumplings, take the chicken off the bone and cut into bite size pieces. Add chicken to the pot (along with the frozen peas) and return to a simmer.


Drop dumplings by the spoonful into the broth until all your dough is in the veggie mixture.


Cover and let simmer about 15 minutes or until the dumplings are fluffed.


Spoon dumplings and broth mixture into bowls and serve.


You made me do it, and I couldn’t be happier.