Archive | January, 2012

Rice Krispie Treats

29 Jan

I eat quite a bit of cereal, and last week I bought a big box of Rice Krispies. The next day I wondered….why didn’t I also buy marshmallows?! I’d been thinking about Rice Krispie treats all week, but didn’t think one bag of mini marshmallows was worth a trip to the grocery store. You see how motivated I am. 😉 So on Thursday when my husband and I went to pick up groceries I finally picked up a bag. These are a classic, and I’m pretty sure everyone has made them at least once. And you really don’t need me to tell you how to do it. They’re extremely easy. But sometimes it’s not bad to be reminded that the simple things are sometimes quite delicious. 😀

Of course you have to melt a little butter (1/4 cup), and then melt in marshmallows (one bag). Sticky, sweet goodness.

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I’d been working on something for the nursery earlier in the day, so I had purple on my mind. I decided to make these Rice Krispie treats purple tinted, just for funsies.

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Stir in 8 cups of cereal, and pour into a greased pan. You’re all set! Just wait for them to cool and cut into squares. Easy and fun. The purple color did make them a little weird, though. It kind of messed with my mind, but not enough to keep me from eating them. 😉

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Random Thought: What is your favorite thing to make that is a classic and super easy? Making these Rice Krispie treats made me wonder what else I haven’t made in years, but I should try again.

Up Next: Probably something chocolate, since I already mentioned it last week but then got distracted with the box of Rice Krispies. 😉

 

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Apple Spice Cake

21 Jan

This Apple Spice Cake recipe comes courtesy of the Food Network and Anne Burrell. Who is the best chef on the network,  no matter what my husband might say. 😉 Here is the link: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/anne-burrell/apple-spice-cake-with-cream-cheese-icing-recipe2/index.html

I only made a couple of changes to this one. I left out the raisins, and didn’t make the cream cheese icing. I’m not a huge fan of raisins, and I think it was great without them! Although….next time I make it I may double the amount of walnuts. I thought it could use a little more texture, but then I realized it was because I’d decided not to add the raisins.

As for the cream cheese icing, there is no doubt in my mind it would have been better with it. I didn’t make it for two reasons. After I finished making the cake itself, I was kind of tired and feeling lazy. The other reason……pregnancy and cream cheese icing are a very dangerous combination for me! Haha. So without the icing I thought it was closer to a variation on banana nut bread. Still wonderful, I just didn’t think of it as a cake.

Granny Smiths get diced and cooked in some butter and apple cider until they are nice and soft.

 

 

Then this needs to be processed into a paste. I don’t have a full size food processor so I just used my blender. Worked just as well. The flour mixture gets the basics added to it: baking soda and salt. But it also gets a wonderful spice treatment, cinnamon and nutmeg! Smells delicious. And then there’s the brown AND white sugar. I could tell this was going to be a real treat. 🙂 The apple paste goes into the flour mixture, along with an egg, vanilla extract, and the walnuts.

Then it’s ready for the oven! It smells amazing while it’s baking…..of course, I think this about anything that has cinnamon in it.

 

I even had a little batter leftover, so I poured it into a mini muffin pan. I guess if I had actually went to the trouble of making the cream cheese icing these would be apple spice cupcakes. But without it, I think I’ll just call them apple spice muffins. 🙂 Whatever their name should be, they were pretty tasty!

This recipe is definitely a keeper, although I think I prefer banana nut bread. Maybe just because I like the banana/walnut combination so much.

Random Thought of the Day: My husband made some kiwi lime soda today! It was delicious. 😀

Up Next: I’m thinking maybe something with chocolate. I just realized that the last three posts I’ve made have been something with fruit. Maybe a chocolate pie? Or a new cookie recipe?

 

Strawberry Pie

15 Jan

Nice, shiny, new baking supplies. One of my Christmas gifts from my mom. 🙂 Pampered Chef, no less.

So this week I looked up a strawberry pie recipe to try out my new tart pan. I picked one that included a recipe for the dough itself. Because who wants to use a prepackaged pie crust when they have a new pan like that?

Here’s the link to the recipe that I used: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/strawberry-cheese-pie/detail.aspx

And here I’ll include it with the slight changes I made. Not because I knew how to make the recipe better, just because I used a few more-readily-available ingredients. As in…..I wanted to use what I already had on hand. 😉

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons shortening
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cool whip
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 4 cups fresh strawberries, halved
  • 1/4 cup seedless strawberry jelly
  1. Combine flour and salt in medium bowl. Cut in shortening and butter until all the flour is blended to form pea-sized crumbs. Sprinkle with water one tablespoon at a time. Toss lightly with a fork until dough forms a ball. Chill dough 15 to 30 minutes.
  2. Roll dough between two sheets of wax paper into an 11 inch circle. Remove top sheet of wax paper and lay into 9 inch pie pan. Prick bottom and sides of pie shell thoroughly to prevent shrinkage.
  3. Bake at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) for 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool to room temperature.
  4. Combine cream cheese and confectioner ‘s sugar in medium bowl. Beat with electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Beat in vanilla extract. Fold in whipped cream and almonds by hand until well mixed. Pour into cooled crust. Refrigerate until firm.
  5. Decorate pie with strawberries fully or just around the edge. Heat jelly in microwave oven just until soft and brush carefully over strawberries until glazed. Refrigerate until serving.

I felt very accomplished mixing and rolling out my own pie dough! And it wasn’t even hard to do. I’d always kind of assumed it was probably difficult or time consuming, because so many recipes that I see call for the pre-made crusts. But it wasn’t bad at all.

The cream cheese filling was pretty good, but the almonds were barely noticeable in the final product. If I make this again I’ll either increase the amount or just leave them out altogether.

But even better than the filling was the topping. The main star of the show. Just seeing this picture makes my mouth water. It makes me want to run out to the grocery store and buy 5 more pints of strawberries.

I’m not really sure what the best way to arrange strawberries on top of a pie is. I’m sure there’s a way to make it look all nice and fancy. I just started around the edges and worked my way inside.

I wasn’t really sure how long the pie would take to set, since the recipe just said to “refrigerate until firm.” If you look at the crust in this picture, you can see that when I cut the first slice it kind of crumbled apart. So I guess I didn’t wait quite long enough. Of course, my solution to this was to wait a few hours and then slice another piece to see what happened. 🙂 The second slice came out of the pan much more nicely. But I didn’t stop to take a picture of that one. I just headed straight for the couch with a fork in hand. 😀

Up Next: Not sure. I was so focused on finding a recipe to try out my new pan that I haven’t decided what next week will be. 🙂

Random Thought of the Day: If you have Martin Luther King, Jr. Day off of work, enjoy your little break. 🙂 For the rest of you……sorry that your job isn’t as cool as mine. 😉

Apple Dumplings

7 Jan

About a month ago I was visiting my mom and she made some apple dumplings. I knew they’d end up here on the blog sooner than later. 🙂 She told me about a few changes she’d made to the recipe, and when I found a recipe on allrecipes.com, I saw several of the reviewers made similar changes. So, here is the link to the original recipe…..but below I’m typing out the changes I made to them.

3 granny smith apples

2 cans of crescent roll dough

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

3/4-1 tsp cinnamon

1 can of Mountain Dew

I peeled 3 granny smith apples. If you have one of those nifty apple wedgers you could certainly use it here, but I don’t have one and I wanted to make the apple pieces a little larger anyways. So I cut the apples into 5-6 wedges each. If you have a wedger and it cuts each apple into 8 slices, you’ll only need 2 apples.

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When you start getting out the butter and sugar, just remember the picture above. Look how much fruit there is! Clearly, a nutrious recipe. 😉

Wrap each of the wedges in a triangle of the crescent roll dough. You’ll need to start at the small end of the triangle, and then pinch the ends together around the apples to seal it. And then repeat over and over until you’ve wrapped them all. At this stage they just look lumpy and pale. But trust me, it gets better. 🙂

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The next part is my favorite (except the eating part), because I love the smell of cinnamon. Apples and cinnamon are just the perfect combination! Melt the stick of butter in a saucepan. Add the sugar and cinnamon. Soak in the delicious smell in your kitchen, and then pour the mixture over the dumplings.

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Lastly, pour the can of Mountain Dew over the top. Honestly, I have no idea what Mountain Dew has to do with this recipe?!? Maybe it just keeps the dumplings moist while baking? Not sure. It sounds a little bizarre, but it works. Trust me.

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Bake at 350 degrees for about 35-40 minutes. When you first take them out of the oven, you can hear the sauce still sizzling. 😀 These are pretty good served as is, but as my friend, Melanie, and my mom both pointed out…..a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top would make it even better!

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YUM. I know lots of people are starting New Years resolutions right now. So there you have it…..a way to make sure you eat enough fruit. For those of you who want to eat healthier this year. 😉

Thanks so much to my mom for introducing me to these dumplings! This will certainly not be the last time I make them.

Random Thought of the Day: Did you make a resolution? If so, what was it?
I didn’t make one at all this year. Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bag thing.

Another Random Thought: My mother in law loaned me the book “The Help.” It was very good! I highly recommend it. I felt like by the end of the book, I really knew the characers. Always a sign of great writing.

Up Next: I got some very nice Pampered Chef tart pans for Christmas. So next I’ll probably make something using those pans. 🙂 Right now, anything with strawberries sounds fantastic. Anybody have a good strawberry tart recipe? 🙂

Homemade Vanilla Extract

2 Jan

Whoever thought making homemade vanilla extract could be so easy? I made a batch for Christmas gifts this year, and I started it back in  August. All you have to do is put some cut vanilla beans into a glass jar with vodka, store in a dark place, and shake every few weeks. It takes several months for the extract to be ready, but it couldn’t be any simpler. All you really need to know is that you need 3 vanilla beans for every 1 cup of vodka. Split the beans in half before adding the alcohol. In case your eally want to read a longer version, here’s a link to full directions. http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_make_vanilla_extract/ I ordered my vanilla beans from Amazon, and then also ordered some cute little brown jars online to give the extract to family members and friends.

It’s kind of  hard to belive that in just a few months the clear vodka turned this dark!

All I added was a little Christmas card and some festive ribbon. Voila!

Up Next: No idea. Whatever I feel like making next weekend.

Random Thought of the Day: I really wish I could be more entertaining today….but I’m feeling pretty crummy. 😦 Not a fun way to finish off my Christmas vacation. Back to school on Wednesday. Why is it that people always get sick around the holidays? I’m off to a pretty  unproductive start to the new year…..not feeling like doing much except laying around on the couch. 😦

2011 in review

2 Jan

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,100 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 52 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.