Archive for Snack

DB April – Maple Mousse in a Bacon Container

I realize that many of you think this is a crime punishable by law but.. I don’t really love bacon.

I like bacon, yes. I think it smells fantastic. Bacon grease is an excellent way to add flavor to pretty much anything. However, when it comes to breakfast I prefer hearty, fatty sausage to bacon. I find that my perfectly cooked bacon is not always how others make it and I’m also terrible at making bacon the way I want it. In the end, it often amounts to a lot of grease with not-super-awesome texture. I’m usually left wanting.

So when I found out that this month’s Daring Bakers challenge was a maple mousse served in bacon cups I was a little underwhelmed. I’m typically excited upon finding out the challenge and immediately start thinking about when I can make it and who I can serve it to. This time, I waited until the very last minute before leaving for China and just made a single one for myself in case it wasn’t fit for sharing.

I was so wrong. After bite numero uno, I started kicking myself for not making more. Baking the bacon in the oven for exactly 27 minutes yielded a perfectly crisp complement to the smooth and slightly sweet maple mousse. The combination together is indescribably good. I licked my plate afterwards and I’m not afraid to say it. This was a winner.

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

I’m leaving for China this coming Sunday. (Can I get a what WHAT??) Don’t worry, I have posts lined up while I’m gone.

There are errands to do, ends to tie up (as it’s also my last week of school), things to buy, and bags to pack. In all the frenzy, I developed a craving for muffins. Something I can run out the door with and get enough of an energy boost to keep me going. Cue wonderful muffin recipe falling into my lap.

These muffins are delicious. They’re grainy and healthy tasting but with just enough chocolate to satisfy my sweet tooth. The hint of cinnamon in the background of it all doesn’t hurt either. And bonus you don’t even need to break out any electrical mixers for this – it can all be done with a whisk and a spatula in  just two bowls. Oh yes, this recipe is all kinds of wonderful.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to call my credit card company so that I don’t get completely cut off in the middle of China.

PS. Have you been to China? We’re going to Beijing, Shanghai, and Hanzhou with a day trip to the Great Wall (we’re thinking Mutianyu). Any recommendations/tips/advice are much appreciated.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins
adapted from How Sweet It Is

Makes 12 muffins.

Ingredients

  • 1 c rolled oats
  • 1 c milk, divided (I used whole)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 c light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 c white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tin with paper liners or grease with nonstick spray.

In a small bowl, mix rolled oats and 1/2 c milk. Set aside for 5 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together egg and brown sugar until caramel-colored and well combined. Add in vanilla and butter and whisk until combined (some chunks are okay). Add in oat mixture, flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix. Stir in remaining 1/2 c milk. Finally fold in chocolate chips. Portion out about 1/4 c batter per muffin cup and bake for 18-20 minutes.

I didn’t even share these with Boy. I ate all of them myself. Yum!

Samoa Bars

In my reader, I have amassed quite a collection of blog posts and recipes that I’m dying to try. Unfortunately, that collection grows by the day and I can’t quite keep up. Also, when a stroke of inspiration strikes, there’s no guarantee that an appropriate recipe is already sitting in my files so I go off hunting the internet and alas the list of recipes never gets shorter.

This week, however, I was determined.

After much hemming and hawing, I finally settled on this recipe. Browned butter, chocolate, coconut, and the namesake of the hands-down best Girl Scouts cookie out there. What could go wrong? Nothing, I tell you, nothing. These bars are an exercise in moderation they’re so delicious. They can single-handedly bring a diet crashing down with the first bite of wonderful. The only thing I would change would be to do some kind of caramel drizzle over them to really get the quintessential samoa experience.

I’m drooling just thinking about it.

Samoa Bars
adapted from honey & jam

Makes one 8×8″ pan.

Ingredients

  • 10 tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 c dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1 1/4 c sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 c bittersweet chocolate chips

Ingredients
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8 baking dish with aluminum foil.

Brown the butter in a pan over high heat. To do this, stand very close by and wait until it begins to change color and smell nutty. Take off the flame and allow the butter to cool for a few minutes until just warm. Combine with the brown and granulated sugars in a large bowl. Add in the egg, vanilla, and salt and stir with a wooden spoon. Slowly add in the flour, coconut, and chocolate chips until the flour just disappears. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top over. Bake 25-30 minutes. The center will still be soft but avoid overbaking. Cool completely before cutting and serving.

Clearly I was too eager to wait for these babies to cool.

Have you taken childhood favorites and changed them up?

Coconut Half-Pound Cake

In all my “carpe diem”-ing, I took a small trip down to Philadelphia this past weekend to visit a friend from school who recently moved there. And, as per my usual, I decided the morning of to bake something. Anything, so long as it was good.

I took a quick survey of my kitchen and found leftover shredded coconut and not much else. After a quick Google search, this cake was it. And I’m so glad it was because it was a definite hit among my two girlfriend and myself as we polished off half of it that afternoon. Luckily, we have large enough stomachs that it didn’t spoil our dinner. I threw in a touch of almond extract at the last minute and was told that the addition made the cake. A tender crumb, moist coconut, and the delicious idea of sprinkling some vanilla sugar over top all made the perfect afternoon snack.

Unfortunately, in all the rush, I neglected to take pictures of the cake slices. Trust me that it was delicious. Also, had I taken pictures of the inside, you’d have seen little flecks of vanilla bean because the original recipe called for it. The end result, however, didn’t exactly showcase the vanilla so I omitted that in the recipe below. If you opt out of the almond extract you may find the vanilla bean flavor present but I love the almond and coconut combination.

Note: I call this a half-pound cake because the eggs and butter are only half a pound and not the classic pound. I also think it’s a cuter title this way.

Coconut Half-Pound Cake
adapted from the Naptime Chef

Makes 1 9×5″ loaf.

Ingredients

  • 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • heaping 1 c sweetened shredded coconut, divided
  • vanilla sugar

Instructions
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 9×5″ loaf and set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs approximately one egg at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed after each addition. Add extracts and combine. On low speed, slowly add in the flour until just incorporated. Fold in 3/4 c coconut with a spatula. Pour into prepared pan and bake 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes, sprinkle remaining coconut and a good helping of vanilla sugar over loaf and continue baking another 15 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Cool completely. Eat, eat, eat!

S’mores Bars

I apologize for the lack of posting this week but I’ve been doing a lot of carpe diem lately. This past week I went to the NY Wine Expo (and became a hot mess), watched the Knicks v. Heat game on Sunday while eating wings (yum), shopped for snowgear (but didn’t buy anything), and ate out a grand total of five times. Also I saw the King’s Speech, 127 Hours, and Tangled. All of which were fabulous. (If you want my opinion, while I thought King’s Speech was good, I didn’t think it should have won Best Picture but that’s the Academy for you!)

And all this time I’ve been working.

So there hasn’t been much time for baking or blogging (my Reader is out of control at the moment). But there has been time for these bars because they took all of 10 minutes to throw together! They were delicious to boot. Who can resist the classic s’mores combination? I have to say the chocolate was a little bit too sweet for my taste though. Next time I may try bittersweet chocolate or even unsweetened (the condensed milk adds a lot of sugar). These were easy, quick, and perfect for any sort of gathering. (Except I ate all of them on my own but shhhhhhh don’t tell!)

This Week I Ate..

  • Smitten Kitchen’s Sour Cream Pancakes. These were wonderful! Tangy and fluffy, perfect for dousing in maple syrup with a side of strawberries. A solid breakfast is always best way to start my day.
  • Curry Creamed Chicken with Couscous Salad. I used to make this all the time when I first started living on my own but my need for variety and the staggering amount of good recipes I have yet to try have prevented me from making it the past few years. I revisited my old favorite and can only say that I usually double the cream sauce because it’s so delicious. This dish comes together in under 20 minutes and it’s great for a weeknight meal (and fairly healthy too besides the cream).
  • Annie’s Eats Chicken Ranch Pizza. There was a sale on fresh pizza dough at my local supermarket this week so I stocked up and made a bunch of pizza. This is one of my favorite pizzas ever! I’ve made it at least half a dozen times now and Boy can’t get enough.
  • Chicken BBQ pizza. With my extra pizza dough I just threw on about 1/4 c barbecue sauce (hickory smoked), 3/4 c shredded mozzarella, caramelized red onion, and cooked chicken, and called it a day. Simple but delicious just the same.

S’mores Bars
adapted from Williams Sonoma, seen on Annie’s Eats

Makes 16 or 1 8×8″ square pan.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 c graham cracker crumbs (approximately 6-7 graham crackers)
  • 3/4 c sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/3 c semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 c mini marshmallows
  • 2 whole graham crackers
  • extra butter to grease the pan

Instructions
Line an 8×8″ baking dish with aluminum foil and lightly grease with extra butter. (I found it easier to grease the foil first and then place in the pan.

Using a fork, mix melted butter with graham cracker crumbs until evenly moistened. Pour into the bottom of the pan and press into an even layer. (I used the bottom of a glass.)

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the condensed milk and chocolate chips. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Quickly pour the mixture over the graham cracker base and smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle marshmallows over the chocolate and gently press them in so they are anchored. Break up the whole graham crackers and insert between the marshmallows.

Cover and refrigerate about 4 hours or until firm. Cut into bars and serve cool.

When was the last time you carpe diem’d?

Red Velvet Swirl Brownies

If your sweet tooth is going through withdrawal after the onslaught of Valentine’s Day, I have a treat for you.

Red velvet.

But not cake.

Huh?

I know.

I’ve been known from time to time to just browse through recipe websites looking for inspiration and this week it was the Food Network. Sunny Anderson, you’re my hero.

I found that I had most of the ingredients already stocked in my pantry with the exception of the red food coloring. A quick trip to the grocery store remedied that situation and in seemingly no time, these were on my table last night.

These are a bit oily from the cream cheese layer, but absolutely delicious. It’s your favorite red velvet + cream cheese combination in the form of a brownie (or a reddie?) and I can’t help but love it. The red layer is dense and tastes just like red velvet, complemented well by the lighter cream cheese layer on top. And who can resist a beautiful swirl? Not I.

Perhaps a bit mistimed, should these have been our Valentine’s Day treats? But the timing can’t take away from the yum. These were well received by all.

This Week I Ate.. Valentine’s edition!

  • Pioneer Woman’s Roasted Beef Tenderloin from her cookbook. OH MY WORD this was phenomenal. So juice and tender. We had to cook it a little bit more than she recommended because the thing was basically mooing coming out of the oven but no matter. Still wonderful.
  • Mashed potatoes. I make them with Russet potatoes, boil until fork tender, drain, then return to the pot over a low flame to take off some excess steam. This time I added some butter, some cream cheese, some whole milk (leftovers), and added salt and pepper. One of my best batches yet!
  • Spinach. We just wilted up the spinach with some olive oil and garlic. Perfect combination.

Red Velvet Swirl Brownies
adapted from Food Network’s Sunny Anderson

Makes 1 8×8″ pan.

Ingredients

For red velvet layer:

  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp red food coloring
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 c all-purpose flour

For cream cheese layer:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare 8×8″ baking pan with foil or by coating with butter.

For red velvet layer, melt butter in a saucepan on the stove. Pour into a large bowl and add in sugar, extract, cocoa, salt, coloring, and vinegar one at a time, mixing after each addition with a wooden spoon. Whisk the eggs lightly in a separate bowl and add to batter. Fold in flour until just disappeared and pour into prepared pan, reserving 1/4 cup of batter.

For cream cheese layer, using an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, sugar, egg, and extract until well mixed. Carefully pour over brownie layer in the pan.

Dollop the remaining red batter over the top of the cream cheese layer and swirl using the tip of a knife. Bake for 30 minutes and allow to cool before cutting (with a plastic knife!) and serving.

Have you thought out of the box lately?