sesame garlic asparagus

Spring is here, and that means fresh asparagus is staring at us around every grocery store corner.  Calling our names and taunting us with its cute little head and bright, springy color.

Don’t fight it.  It’s a lost battle.

Sesame Garlic Asparagus | Sweet Anna's

If you’ve got a fridge full like I do, make this tonight…  you will be so happy you did!!

If you don’t have a fridge full… don’t worry.  I’m sure there will be plenty calling your name at the grocery store tomorrow when you go shop for your Easter dinner groceries (hint, hint)!

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perfectly baked ‘hard-boiled’ eggs (in the oven!)

Yep, you heard me right.  And maybe this is not news to you?  But it is SO news to me!

Perfectly, perfect ‘hardboiled’ eggs baked in the oven!  

You guys, these are so easy, and not only that, so much better than regular boil-in-a-pot eggs!

Perfectly Baked 'Hard-Boiled' Eggs (In the oven!) | Sweet Anna's

I’m seriously kicking myself for not finding this tip sooner.  My kids LOVE “closed eggs” (aka hard-boiled!) and I rarely make them because of the hassle.

Guess what?  Now, the hassle is GONE!  The only hassle in making ‘hard-boiled’ eggs now is remember to heat up the oven.  That is something I can handle!

eggs-in-the-oven

We are happy campers!

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healthier delicious whole wheat banana bread

You guys, I am so excited about this banana bread!  (Ok, I know I say that a lot, but that’s because I love to share the things I’m excited about with you!)

This much-healthier banana bread is way up at the top of my list right now of favorite things!

It’s no secret that I love banana bread.  I love making it, baking it, eating it, and sharing it with others.  But my ultimate banana bread recipe is so indulgent and wonderful that I almost feel bad serving it sometimes.  It’s too good.  (And NOT so good for you!)

This banana bread on the other hand…

Healthier Whole Wheat Banana Bread | Sweet Anna's

This banana bread is the kind of treat you can serve your kids every morning if you want and not feel the least bit guilty for it.  Even when they slather it with butter, because the only fat in this bread is what you find in your greek yogurt.  That’s it!

It’s chock-full of healthy stuff.  Greek yogurt, mashed bananas, whole wheat flour, oats…  and it tastes like a cross between a thick, hearty slice of oat & wheat bread crossed with a decadent banana bread.

I’m telling you, you should make this soon.  Because we all need a healthy treat in our back pockets for those munchie (or “there’s nothing for breakfast!”) emergencies!

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mocha glazed mexican chocolate heart brownies

These rich, fudgy, ohsoadorable heart shaped brownies are packed with a mexican chocolate hit of cinnamon and cayenne and topped with a silky, sweet mocha ganache.

Mocha Glazed Mexican Chocolate Heart Brownies | Sweet Anna's

Ok, so I am a total sap when it comes to things like Valentine’s Day.

It’s not really even about the hallmark-holiday itself, but just that I absolutely adore everything cute and pink and hearts and just all the things.

I love cuteness!!

So, of course I have to make heart shaped things in my kitchen.  Thankfully, my boys love it just as much as I do!

These cute brownies are incredibly simple to make, and perfectly impressive to share…  Give these a try if you are looking for something fun to make for your friends and loved ones this week.

They will love knowing they are worth this special touch!

mocha glazed mexican fudge heart brownies

Ingredients

    for the brownies:
  • 3/4 cup dutch processed unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup butter, melted and divided (1/3 cup + 1/3 cup)
  • 1/2 cup very hot coffee or boiling water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • for the ganache:
  • 6 oz good quality chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon coffee liqueur (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9x13" baking dish, line with parchment, grease the parchment and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cocoa and baking soda. Stir in 1/3 cup of the melted butter until smooth. Stir in the coffee or boiling water until the mixture is smooth and thick.

Stir in the sugar and eggs with the remaining 1/3 cup melted butter. Stir in the vanilla, cinnamon, salt and cayenne until just smooth.

Dump in the flour a and stir until just combined.

Spread the batter into your prepared baking dish and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the edges start to pull away from the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean.

Cool the brownies completely in the pan and then lift the parchment to transfer the brownies to a cutting board and then cut them out with a heart-shaped cookie cutter.

(Here's a tip for all those brownie scraps left over: Chop them up pretty small and spread them on a plate. Place them in the freezer until firm and then transfer them to an airtight container and store in the freezer. They make amazing ice cream toppings!)

Place all the cut-out brownie hearts onto a tray and into the fridge or freezer until cold. (This can be done several days ahead in an airtight container. Brownies freeze wonderfully!)

When you are ready to glaze the hearts, remove them from the fridge or freezer and place them on a rack set on top of a foil-lined pan (to catch the drips!).

Chop the chocolate, if you haven't already, and place it in a medium bowl, with the liqueur if you are using.

In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream over medium-high until it just comes to a boil. As soon as it starts boiling (watch it closely, or you will quickly have a boil over!) ((Ask me how I know!)) pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate in the bowl.

Let it sit for about 30 seconds (while you wipe up the boiled-over cream! ha!) and then gently stir the chocolate and cream until it is very smooth and shiny. Let the chocolate cool for a bit, stirring occasionally.

(The longer you let the chocolate cool, the thicker your glaze will be. That is totally up to you!!)

When it's ready, spoon some chocolate on top of each brownie heart, smoothing it carefully with the back of a spoon and letting some of it drip down the edges. Place the pan back into the fridge to set for a few hours and then serve!

If you want to let people know what's in the brownies, you can dust them with a tiny bit of cinnamon and cayenne. You could also leave those spices out of the brownies all together if you prefer!

http://sweetannas.com/2014/02/mocha-glazed-mexican-chocolate-heart-brownies.html

You may have a bit of ganache left over…  don’t worry.  Stick it in the fridge and eat it with a spoon when it’s firm!  Instant truffles!  :o)

chinese five spice snickerdoodles

Chewy, sweet and a little bit spicy, these cute little snickerdoodles with a hint of chinese five spice are the perfect last minute treat for Chinese New Year!

(Am I the only one who didn’t realize it was today, until…  today?!  Apparently I live in a bubble.)

chinese five spice snickerdoodles | Sweet Anna's

Of course I couldn’t resist celebrating (because really I love any celebration that involves food!) so I’ve got Broccoli Beef simmering away in the slow cooker (recipe to come soon!) and these cookies filling up my house with amazing smells.

Is it dinner time yet?!

(Thankfully we’ve got family night at church tonight, so we can share all these treats!)

Next on my to-do list today:  A simple, fresh spinach salad with orange sesame vinaigrette.

chinese five spice snickerdoodles

Yield: makes about 5 dozen small cookies

Ingredients

    for the dough:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tarter
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • for rolling:
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chinese five spice seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions

In your mixer bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until well blended.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cream of tarter, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add to the butter mixture, beating until combined. Place the dough in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes while you preheat the oven.

In a small bowl, stir together the 1/2 cup sugar, the chinese five spice and the cinnamon.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF and line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

To form the cookies: scoop out a tablespoon of dough, roll it into a ball and roll it in the cinnamon/sugar mixture to coat. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on your parchment-lined baking sheets. (These cookies will spread.)

Bake for 6-7 minutes and then remove the pan from the oven, leaving the cookies on the pan for 5 minutes to set before moving them to a wire rack to cool.

http://sweetannas.com/2014/01/chinese-five-spice-snickerdoodles.html

If you’re looking for my original Snickerdoodles recipe, click here!

Happy New Year!!