And the award for King of All Comfort Foods goes to ... Cheesy Baked Penne Pasta with Sausage! Because what's not to love about a hearty meal-in-a-bowl that comes together i…
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I cook at home as often as humanly possible. But there are days when opening up a bag of dried pasta seems like the equivalent of running a marathon. An entire homemade meal just doesn’t happen every night, so often times I revert to an exercise from my days in culinary school: The Market Basket.
Think of it like Chopped meets Survivor meets Kelly is starving and doesn’t want to wait 45 minutes for carryout to be delivered in New York City. So I open my fridge, get my creative juices going, and whip up a meal out of anything that’s within arm’s reach of my fridge or my pantry. In culinary school this resulted in some seriously outstanding fare, including the time I created a dish of Roasted Poussin with Sweet Potato Hash and Sage Oil. Those were the days. But not surprisingly, my fridge last week didn’t contain anything that even remotely resembled a poussin.
And in fact, when I opened my fridge, I saw this:
How pathetic is that?
I’ve always been a big believer in decoding people’s fridges (á la MTV Cribs), so in an attempt to shield myself from any judgment, I feel like this barren ice box image deserves an explanation:
- Energy drinks: I had my first Red Bull earlier this year, but that six-pack hasn’t moved an inch ever since I discovered my new best friend: Sambazon Lo-Cal Amazon Energy Drink. It’s organic! And made with açaí! I’ve never liked the idea of energy drinks, but sometimes coffee just isn’t enough of a kick in the pants to keep me going.
- Eggs: I always have a dozen. If all else fails, I scramble them with whatever produce is on hand and throw them into a tortilla.
- Beer: I’m not a beer-drinker. But I also realize my 23-year-old brother and his 23-year-old friends probably aren’t going to be interested in a glass of chilled Pinot Grigio on a Saturday night, so I keep it in the fridge for when unexpected (and cooler) company swings by.
- Brita filter: I don’t care how clean they say New York City tap water is. I filter it. I would filter the filtered water if I could.
- Soy milk: The remnants from my vegan cleanse two weeks ago.
- Brie cheese: The remnants from my Chocolate and Brie Panini experiment.
- Champagne: I’m a big fan of the bubbly. This bottle was a gift from my sister’s boyfriend after he stayed at my apartment during the recent hurricane.
- Tuna fish: I might as well be living in a college dorm, but it’s good for emergency situations so I always have a can or two.
The short version of this long story is that I never made it to my weekly Whole Foods stock-up session. And the even shorter version is that with a few eggs, butter, and a quick pantry raid, I whipped up these Toffee Blondies. They are my go-to treat for the very reason that they are the easiest dessert to make when supplies are limited. I use the same base for Peanut Butter Blondies, as this recipe really is the ideal way to transform any and every piece of Halloween candy into a freshly baked dessert bar.
So grab what’s on hand and get that oven preheating. And please share what you currently have (or don’t have) stocked in your fridge!
- YIELD: 16 blondies
- 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cuppacked dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cupsuperfine Baker's sugar
- 2large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoonspure vanilla extract
- 2 cupsall-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoonssalt
- 3/4 cup toffee bits, divided (Recommended: Heath Bits 'o Brickle baking pieces)
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing it to hang over the sides. Coat the paper with cooking spray.
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together the melted butter with the brown sugar and Baker's sugar until smooth.
Add the eggs and vanilla.
Remove the bowl from the mixmaster and stir in the flour and salt just until moistened. Stir in a ½ cup of the toffee bits.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top.
Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of toffee bits over the top of the batter.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Let the pan cool completely then remove the baked blondies using the parchment overhang.
Cut them into 16 squares and serve.
Blondie batter adapted from YumSugar.
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