Posts Tagged ‘easy on the clock’

Triple Ginger Cookie Icebox Cake

I disappeared for a few months. If anyone is still reading this, this is my apology.

I have since left New Jersey for New York. I’ve moved into a brand new (for me – it’s actually quite old) apartment without a roommate and I’ve started my first real salaried job. I didn’t take any of my old furniture with me so it’s been a lot of shopping, assembling, moving, and learning. In the midst of it all this blog fell to the wayside. I thought about ending it all – working 80 hours a week hasn’t left much time for myself, Boy, or much else. Checking my email has come down to the 5 minutes before I fall asleep at night. Baking still exists but it is hurried and never that attractive.

But Boy convinced me otherwise and so I’m here. I may not be here as often as before but I’m still here. The purpose of the blog was to push my baking boundaries and that drive still exists. I’m determined to be comfortable with a cupboard of flour and sugar and to know in the back on my mind what I can do with it without having to check the internet.

My little treat for the week was this delicious icebox cake. I was contacted by Andrea several months ago about her new book, The I Love Trader Joe’s College Cookbook. While I’m long out of college, the idea of quick and simple and the idea of Trader Joe’s both resonate with me. I was immediately intrigued.

This cookbook has a TON of great ideas to offer. While you can obviously just wander around TJ’s and eat the food as is, this expands your repertoire without breaking the bank or the clock. This icebox cake took minutes to assemble and just a quick overnight trip to the freezer and it was done! And the flavor is incredible. It tastes as if I slaved all day making the cake layers. The ginger flavor is prominent but well-balanced. I can’t say enough about this. I’m eating the huge piece I photographed right now!

Triple Ginger Cookie Icebox Cake
adapted from The I Love Trader Joe’s College Cookbook by Andrea Lynn

Ingredients

  • 2 9-oz packages Trader Joe‘s Cookie Thins Triple Ginger cookies
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger (I didn’t have any so I used 1/2 tsp ground ginger and 1 tsp crystallized ginger, minced)
  • 2 c heavy cream, chilled
  • 1 tbsp sugar
Instructions
In a large bowl, place ginger, cream, and sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream until stiff peaks form by gradually increasing the speed from low to medium-high. Set aside about one-fifth of the cream and 6 cookies.
Use a spatula to spread about 2 tbsp of the whipped cream on a large plate. Top the cream with a single layer of cookies. Fit as many as possible. Layer with whipped cream. Continue layering cookies followed by cream until you have 8-10 complete layers. When finished, use set-aside whipped cream to cover the top and sides of the cake.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (I stuck mine in the freezer) for at least 8 hours. When ready to serve, crumble set-aside 6 cookies and sprinkle over the top.

As a bonus treat, Andrea was kind enough to send me a book to giveaway as well! Here’s how you can enter to win:

1. Comment on this post for one entry.

2. Advertise via facebook, twitter, blog, whatever. Comment again with what you did for another entry.

Giveaway ends August 12 at midnight!

If you don’t win, you can always purchase the book yourself here.

Thanks for sticking with me.

Blackberry Custard Kuchen

I most definitely did not do this kuchen justice with this picture. And, unfortunately, there is not another picture I can show you. Suffice it to say this kuchen was so delicious it was gobbled up in under 18 hours. I had planned to take pictures of a slice the next day after returning home from commencement since I baked it in a frenzy the night my relatives flew in from Seattle (and Mom, on her way out to the airport, suddenly requested a baked good to magically appear when she returned).

It was quite delicious though. The blackberries (though raspberries and blueberries would also work well) married perfectly with the slightly sweet custard topping and complementary crust.

I really need to take a class or something so I can better describe. All I can ever seem to say is “mmmmm” while my mouth is stuffed with sugary, creamy goodness.

Just make this!

Blackberry Custard Kuchen
adapted from allrecipes

Ingredients

For crust:

  • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut in 1-inch chunks
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 pints blackberries, rinsed
For topping:
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
Preheat oven to 375F and grease a 13 x 9″ baking dish.

For crust, In a food processor or large bowl, combine 1 cup flour and salt. Pulse in butter or cut in with 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cream. Press into the bottom of the prepared dish. Combine sugar and remaining 1/2 c flour in a bowl and sprinkle over crust. Arrange blackberries atop sugar/flour mixture.
For topping, Combine sugar and flour. Then add in eggs, cream, and vanilla. Pour over berries. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until lightly browned. Can be served warm or chilled.
Are you partaking of the berry season?

Pig Cake

I have been ridiculously MIA from blogging this past week. As we approach the end of an era (my formal education years), it’s getting quite hectic and I’m trying desperately to spend as much time with my family and friends as possible before my job (JOB! WOOHOO!) starts in June and I move away (not far away but away) and spend sleepless nights at the hospital.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Match Day, or the day all graduating medical students across the country find out where they’ll be working this coming year, was this past Thursday. It was nerve wracking, anxiety inducing, makes-you-need-to-pee-and-want-to-vomit-all-at-the-same-time, and all around torture. But we all got through it. I got my number 2 choice in New York if you’re all wondering. I’m quite happy. Boy is too (he also got his number 2, also in New York, but different institution).

To celebrate, I quickly whipped up this Pig Cake before we all went out for an evening of bad decisions. It was everything I wanted to be. Very few ingredients, meaning less time at the grocery store, whipped up in a matter of minutes, meaning more time hanging out, and tasted wonderfully. Also, it was a single layer cake, perfect for large crowds and for even less kitchen fuss. The cake itself was moist and light and just a bit tropical tasting with the addition of mandarin oranges. The topping was a pure dream. It, too, was light and fluffy with scrumptious chunks of pineapple. The whole cake was sweet but not too sweet and fit in perfectly for the joyous occasion. This will definitely be made again and again without hesitation. I don’t know why exactly it’s called Pig Cake (PW doesn’t either) but I can only surmise that it’s because it’s so incredibly delicious you can’t help but be a little piggy eating more and more!

Sorry there’s only one picture! I was too busy drinking champagne.

Pig Cake
adapted from the Pioneer Woman

Ingredients

For cake:

  • 1 box Yellow Cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 14 oz can of mandarin oranges, drained, 1/2 c juice reserved
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For topping:

  • 1 package vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 20 oz can of crushed pineapple, drained, juice reserved
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 4 oz Cool Whip
  • extra mandarin oranges for garnish, optional

Instructions
For cake: Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9×13″ baking pan.

Using an electric mixer, combine cake mix, butter, reserved juice, eggs, and vanilla on medium-high (start out slow to prevent cake mix from flying everywhere) for 4 minutes. Add oranges and beat until they are broken up into small pieces. Pour into prepared pan and bake 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and set. Cool completely.

For topping: Mix together vanilla pudding mix and reserved juice. Add powdered sugar followed by the whipped topping, mixing to combine. Stir in pineapple. Spread on cooled cake and refrigerate several hours before serving. Serve with extra mandarin oranges if desired.

What’s your reason to celebrate this week?

Egg Custard

It’s Sunday.

To different people, Sundays mean different things. To some it’s a day of relaxation, some prepare for the busy week ahead, some celebrate their religions, and so on and so forth.

My family?

We eat.

We’re not foodies by any means but I was always raised to love food and to love to eat it. My shining example of this is how we used to drive to Newport, Rhode Island at least once a summer (more if we had out-of-town/country guests or if we were feeling particularly gluttonous that year) to eat lobster. We’d pile up into our van in the early morning and drive the 4 hours to the wharf where we’d pick up some freshly caught and freshly steamed baby lobsters (they’re much sweeter and more tender than their larger friends). From there we’d drive off to Brenton Point State Park where we’d unload the car, sit at a picnic table, and eat our succulent lobsters while watching all the kites being flown overhead.

Then, we’d pack it all up and drive the 4 hours home on the same day. Yup. That’s how my family rolls.

A more local tradition we enjoy is to have dim sum on Sunday afternoons following church services. If you’ve never been to Chinese dim sum, it’s basically carts full of little bites of food that roam around the room that allow you to pick the hot plates at your leisure. It’s almost their form of brunch. You get served right away (provided you like what’s on the carts at the time) and can get full fast ordering plate after plate before you even realize you’re full to the brim.

(We don’t usually eat dinner after this type of gorging.)

One of our favorite carts is the dessert cart which always holds these little babies, the egg custards. After seeing this recipe, I knew I had to try it out. The recipe calls for puff pastry to make the shells which isn’t conventional (they don’t use puff pastry in China) but was a good substitute for a homemade version. The custard itself will remind anyone of the sought after dim sum treat with its creamy and rich texture. These are easy to make in very little time so if you’re still looking for something special for Valentine’s Day I definitely recommend trying these out!

This Week I Ate..

  • Tiny Urban Kitchen’s Taiwanese Meat Sauce over Rice. I used half normal and half dark soy sauce and after it began to simmer I realized that I had accidentally doubled the amount of pork. No difference though! Also, the sauce is NOT meant for consumption. It’s quite salty — Dilute with water as needed. Other than that though it was delicious and reminded my Taiwanese Boy of a dish his mom makes. (Score!) Over rice, this is an easy dinner to pull together.
  • Pizza with caramelized yellow and red onions, mozzarella, prosciutto, and a light sprinkling of gorgonzola. My 93-year-old grandmother loved this! She kept calling the prosciutto “bacon” but whatever. As long as it’s good, does it matter what it’s called?
  • Annie’s Eats Ginger Beef Stir Fry. The sauce was delicious but my beef came out overly tough and the broccoli didn’t soften up as much as I would like. In the future I’d slice the steak much thinner and maybe steam the broccoli a little beforehand. With some adjustments this could be a new weeknight staple.

Egg Custard
adapted from Tiny Urban Kitchen

Makes 10.

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1/3 c granulated sugar
  • yellow food coloring (optional)

Instructions
Preheat oven to 400F.

For shells, Cut out 3-inch rounds of puff pastry. Press rounds into a muffin tin, shaping them like little tarts. Bake for 10 minutes or until slightly browned.

For custard, Lightly beat eggs until yolks and whites are well combined. Try not to beat too much air into them. Set aside. Heat milk and sugar in a saucepan until hot but not boiling and the sugar is mostly, if not completely, dissolved. Remove pan from heat. While stirring constantly, add the beaten eggs in a slow stream. Strain mixture into a clean bowl (or measuring cup to save a step). Allow to cool for several minutes. Add food coloring if using (to achieve more of the typical color, otherwise custards will be pale yellow).

Once shells are baked, decrease oven to 350F and poke holes in the shells to allow for filling. Fill with custard. Bake for 15 minutes or until set.

What’s your favorite dim sum treat?

Red Bean Mochi Cake

Happy Chinese New Year!!

I’m not Chinese but Boy is (actually, he’s Taiwanese and he makes a big fuss over the difference.. but they all still celebrate CNY) so I decided this year I would find a way to be a part of his tradition.

While we’ll be having our own little CNY celebration later today, he went back to his parents’ house last night (they live an hour away) and I wanted to send a little gift home with him. After several hours of researching about the traditions of CNY and looking at a whole bunch of Asian recipes, I settled on this one from Tiny Urban Kitchen. “Nian gao” can have a dual meaning of both “sticky cake” and “high/tall year.” The latter meaning is often used during CNY to signify reaching new heights in the new year. I also liked this recipe because it incorporates red beans, one of my favorite flavors and coincidentally the lucky color in Chinese culture. The recipe was quite simple to make with ingredients easily found at my local Asian supermarket. So I sent Boy off home with eight slices of the loaf.

Why eight?

Eight is the luckiest number in Chinese culture. I ended up cutting the loaf into 12 pieces but I got worried that 12 may be unlucky somehow and I didn’t want to chance offending anyone so I played it safe and went with eight. The loaf was well-received and thankfully no one made any comments that I had accidentally ruined their New Year.

CNY is a 15-day celebration so you’re by no means late if you make this within the next two weeks. Although, you can always just stick to the “sticky cake” meaning and make it all year round (which is what I plan to do anyhow)! If you’ve never had mochi before, it’s sticky in the best way possible, not very sweet, and just subtly flavored by the red bean in this version. I highly recommend trying it. You won’t be disappointed!

Red Bean Mochi Cake (Nian Gao)
adapted from Tiny Urban Kitchen

Makes 2 loaves, 1 9×13 cake, or 24 cupcakes.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Mochiko sweet rice flour (found in Asian markets or here)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 c vegetable oil
  • 2 c milk (I used 2%)
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 3/4 c red bean paste (also found in Asian markets)

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. (No need to line your pans.)

Mix all ingredients except the red bean paste together in a large bowl. Add in the red bean paste. Divide among pans. Bake for 45 min – 1 hour, or until a knife comes out clean. Cut and enjoy either warmed or at room temperature.

HOW EASY IS THAT?!

Here’s to the Year of the Rabbit!

Chocolate Crinkles

We’ve been having game night lately in my circle of friends.

It started off as a holiday exchange game brought in several board games that we couldn’t wait to try out. A little friendly competition can’t hurt, right?

Well now it’s become an all-out boys versus girls war.

Three times in the past month, we’ve rolled up our sleeves, put on our game faces, and have played Taboo and Cranium until the wee hours of the morning. The losing team is never satisfied with the result and the winning team can’t help but be greedy for more bragging rights.

Two game nights ago the girls lost for the first time to the boys in Taboo. Unheard of! Girls are better communicators, aren’t they? Better at using their words? But, alas, the stars aligned in the boys’ favor at the end of the night.

So I came up with a new strategy. Bring irresistible cookies to stuff the boys’ mouths with. Give them a distraction that they’ll never see coming. A sneak attack. A modern-day Trojan Horse.

And I give you Exhibit A.

A cookie Boy and I first discovered at Panera the night before this fated Game Night #3. A cookie Boy fell in love with and happily munched on while I was secretly plotting. I had found the cookie to make them weak in the knees, defenseless from the fudgy chocolate with a crunchy outer layer and a gentle dusting of powdered sugar! These came together in just an hour from start to cooled so they were easily made while Boy finished up some work at the hospital before we were off to the Games. (By the way, I’ve also been reading the Hunger Games series – I’m on book #2 – and so I’ve gotten even more competitive. What a great read!) And as the boys downed the cookies the girls steered clear. Perhaps they knew my strategy. Perhaps they were just watching their figures. But at the end of the night, the girls were again crowned victorious and that’s all that matters.

As one teammate put it, swinging her arms in a happy march/run motion and in a sing-song voice, “We are awe-some! We are awe-some!”

If you’re looking for a cookie to stop traffic with its delicious chocolate-y-ness, one simple to make with ingredients you likely already have on hand, this is the cookie for you.

If you’re looking to win Game Night, this is the cookie for you.

If you’re just looking for an awesome cookie, this is the cookie for you.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Makes 24-30 cookies.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c confectioner’s sugar in a bowl, set aside
  • 1 2/3 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

Using a stand or hand mixer, cream butter and sugar together for 3 minutes on medium speed. Add eggs one at a time, mixing for one minute after each addition. Add vanilla and beat thoroughly. Switching to low speed, add in flour mixture. Beat until just combined, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed.

Take teaspoonfuls of dough and roll into a ball. Roll in powdered sugar to coat and place on prepared sheets approximately 2 inches apart. Bake sheets one at a time for 10-12 minutes. Cool on sheet for five minutes, then move to wire rack. Continue with remaining dough.

Do you have Game Night? What do you play? What do you eat?

Un-Classic Snickerdoodles

Brother Bear left late Saturday night to go back to law school.

(Are we the only people who still occasionally use Berenstein Bears names?)

Anyway, my little brother went back to school earlier than we all would have liked.

And, yes, I know he’s 22 now, can vote, can imbibe legally, and can be drafted, but he will always always be my little brother.

He’s all I got in terms of siblings and we’re only 2 1/2 years apart so we’re pretty close. He’s a strong-willed little fella’ but, for me, he’ll drop mostly everything if I ask. I’ve heard his friends comment more than once that they could never imagine him as a “little” anything but the second I’m around they understand.

This is not to make him sound like a sad little puppy around me. We just have a better relationship than most siblings. My parents thought he was developmentally delayed for a while because he didn’t speak until he was two. Why, you ask? Big sister (that’s me, by the way) doted on little brother soooo much he never had to speak!

You get it. We’re Brother and Sister Bear of Berenstein Bears fame.


But we don’t get to see one another much anymore since he’s away becoming a lawyer of sorts and I’m still chasing that doctor dream.

So when we were both home for the holiday of Thanks there was a lot of laughter and silliness. But when he announced that he had to leave Saturday night to go study (my parents’ house is a black hole of unproductivity largely due to the big screen television) there was certainly some disappointment.

My immediate reaction?

I jumped up and said, “Wait! I’ll make cookies!”

And wait he did.

Because he’s my little brother and always will be even if he lives miles and miles away now.

These cookies are fantastic if you’re in a rush. You don’t have to bring the butter to room temperature since it’s just melted and they bake up in just 7 minutes. No stand or hand mixer to wash either! 2 bowls, 1 plate, a whisk, and a spatula (along with your measuring tools) are all you need. The most time-consuming part is the rolling etc but once you get into a rhythm it really doesn’t take long at all and is quite enjoyable.

The result? A beautifully soft, fluffy cookie that’s rich (the two sticks of butter may have something to do with that) but not so rich that you don’t want to eat five more right away . I call these “un-classic” because they don’t contain cream of tartar which is largely thought to be essential to provide a snickerdoodle with that little “bite.” These don’t have a bite. Do I miss it? Not really. But in case you would, know that these are biteless but completely delicious in their own right.

Save this recipe for a rainy day. You likely always have all the ingredients on hand and they take no time at all!

You’re welcome.

Un-Classic Snickerdoodles
adapted from the Kitchn

Makes 3-4 dozen cookies depending on size.

Ingredients

For Cookies:

  • 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 heaping cup dark brown sugar, unpacked
  • 1 c white granulated sugar
  • 3 c flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For Rolling:

  • 1/4 c white granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Instructions
Preheat oven to 425F. Take out baking pans but leave unlined (or line with parchment paper for easier cleanup).

For Cookies: Melt butter in microwave and set aside to cool while making the rest of the cookie batter. Stir together dark brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Then whisk eggs into melted and slightly cooled butter. Add vanilla. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined.

For Rolling: In a shallow plate, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Form 1 1/2″ balls of cookie dough, then roll in cinnamon sugar mixture. Place each ball onto baking sheet and flatten slightly. Space cookies about 1 1/2″ apart. Bake for 7 minutes and then cool on the pan.

Don’t forget! Today’s your last day to enter for STO’s first giveaway! Contest ends at midnight TONIGHT.

What’s your go-to cookie in a jiffy?

Oreo Surprise Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have a confession to make.

I have a mixer and I’m not afraid to use it.

I know I should only be using it for the greater good. With my special powers in and around the oven I should really be a superhero of sorts but sometimes sometimes I use it for evil.

To get my way.

It’s terrible but true and I am ashamed but probably not ashamed enough to never do it again and it comforts me to think that perhaps someone else out there has done the same thing? Or something like it? Come on, you know you’re out there!

So this is what happened. My medical school rotates through several hospitals, the closest being 5 minutes away and the furthest being 40 minutes away. This seems to be a no-brainer, yes? Wouldn’t you want to do your rotations close by so you don’t waste precious hours driving? Except what if the other hospital is “cushy”? What if you don’t work as hard there, have more time to study? Well then. That, my friends, sounds like the place to be.

And so that’s where I went for my most recent rotation.

It took a little bargaining which may or may not have consisted of a batch of cookies for three weeks at a certain hospital.

Guilty as charged.

But these cookies were delicious and I ate a whoooooole bunch of them before I gave the rest of the batch away and so it was essentially a win-win situation in my book!

Oreo Surprise Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Picky Palate

Makes 18-24 cookies depending on size.

Ingredients

  • 11 Oreos, crushed
  • 1 1/2 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • 6 tbsp packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a stand or hand mixer, mix crushed Oreos with cream cheese until a dough forms. Set aside. If using a stand mixer, spoon mixture out of bowl and simply use bowl as is for the cookie dough (that’s what I did anyhow).

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, mixing until well combined. Add in the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Then fold in chocolate chips.

To assemble: Take Oreo mixture and portion and roll out little balls about 1 tbsp each. Scoop cookie dough onto prepared sheets. There should be equal balls of the Oreo mixture and equal blobs of cookie dough. Make an indentation in a cookie dough blob, insert a ball of Oreo mixture, and reshape cookie dough to cover the Oreo. Continue for the rest of the cookies.

Bake for 13-15 minutes or until the edges of cookies just begin to brown a bit. Cool on rack until you can’t contain yourself then dig in!

Happy holiday eating if I don’t update between now and then. Be on the lookout for some fantabulous holiday desserts coming soon though!

No-Bake White Chocolate Pie

My mood is much MUCH better today than it was a few days ago. I apologize for that quite uncharacteristic sob story. Honestly, one of the lowest moments I’ve ever had. Except for the time frame of lasting only a few days, I could have been clinically diagnosed with depression.

You can tell I feel much better when the nerd in me makes an appearance.

You know I was never really THAT bad since I kept a running tab of how many criteria for depression I filled at any given time.

Anyway, a big part of my stress and depress(ion) was this here weekend. While pulling my full load on my medicine clerkship (which is killing me by the way)  PLUS make a diaper cake for a friend’s baby shower (have you ever seen one of these? They’re adorable but quite time-consuming to make!), create some cupcakes for the same shower (settled on lychee mango.. will be sharing that recipe soon because they were a hit!), and coming up with something/making something for Boy’s BBQ tomorrow (going to do my first Daring Bakers challenge!! eeeeeeek!). And now that we’re halfway through the weekend and the shower’s over, I can rest a little easier.

And I am.

By parking myself in front of my parents’ humongo flat-screen with my laptop on which I’m doing questions. I am! So far.. I’ve done 22 in 2 hours. Clearly, my efficiency needs improvement. Or the Travel Channel needs to stop showing their Extreme series. Extreme Pig Outs and Extreme Fast Food? So interesting. Have you seen the monstrosities people actually eat? Like here. THE HEART ATTACK GRILL! Insanity.

This probably won’t give you a heart attack and at 350 calories per serving (the recipe makes 8), it’s really pretty healthy compared to  the 7,000 calorie burger I just saw on television (it looked delicious in case you’re wondering).

In honor of the BBQ tomorrow, I’m posting a pie I made for another recent outdoor event. It’s a bit like a cheesecake but much lighter, takes much less time, and is still heavenly. Now that I think about it, you don’t have to stop at bananas. Why not go for strawberries? Or kiwi fruit? Bacon? Freudian slip. Point is, it’s very easily adapted to whatever suits your taste.

No-Bake White Chocolate Pie
adapted from Dorie Greenspan

Ingredients
4 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 c sour cream
1/2 c heavy cream, chilled
1 banana, thinly sliced
One ready-made 9″ graham-cracker crust [You can make one and bake it up but I just bought one. My guilt was made up for by time saved.]

Instructions
Warm the chocolate in a bowl set over a pot of lightly simmering water. Remove from heat when only partially melted; stir to melt completely.

Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Beat in the chocolate, then the sour cream. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream until firm; gently fold into chocolate mixture.

Assembly:
Arrangethe banana slices on the crust. [I’ve also made one with toffee chips. Sprinkle about 1-2 oz of toffee chips on top of the bananas. Not too many or it’ll take over the pie!] Top with the filling. Decorate with cocoa powder or chocolate shavings. Strawberries perhaps?  Chill at least 2 hours.

Yayyyyyyy PIE!

– Sharlene

Lemon Bars

I’m all about the citrus.

This year I’ve been baking oodles and oodles of lemony (x2)/limey/orangey (will have to post something orange soon!) things and I’m loving it. The refreshing flavor kinda makes you forget about all the buttery sugary filled goodness, you know? I love sugar cookies but sugar cookies with lime? Even better. Also, for some reason, citrus things make me think of breakfast which ultimately means I could SHOULD each such things at breakfast time (which can be as early as 5am.. sometimes 4am if I’m extra lucky). And they’re filled with all that vitaminy good stuff.

Yes, I have just created no less than 6 new adjectives by adding “y” to the end of words. Don’t judge me.

There was once a time I wouldn’t eat citrus.

I know. I was a silly child. At least I always loved coconut. No oranges but coconut = Sharlene had no friends.

Anyway, I had asthma as a child and it was pretty bad. My best friend in grade school who only lived a few blocks away told me once that whenever she heard the ambulance sirens she thought it was me. She was usually right. I was in and out of the hospital and my parents were fairly strict with medications and doctor’s appointments. In an attempt to try anything, my mom took me to some holistic guy who said to stop eating citrus. I don’t remember why but he said it and it stuck. I didn’t really like oranges anyway so what was the big deal? Silly stuff right there. I was missing out.

I convinced myself I couldn’t, and therefore wouldn’t, eat oranges. I also didn’t like lemon flavored things, including lemonade (which I still don’t usually like — too sour — but sometimes when it’s not too sour I rather enjoy it). Lime wasn’t much in vogue back then so not an issue.

I hope that last statement doesn’t make me the girl with no friends again.

Just in case, I have these bars to help. They’re not lemonade but they’re just as good if not better (depending on how much you like lemonade). They’re the perfect balance of sweet and sour, crumbly and silky. They’re also great because you can almost be satisfied with a teeny tiny bite because they’re so tart. But in case you eat half the pan, don’t blame me. They’re good. It’s the Pioneer Woman! What did you expect?

Pioneer Woman’s Creamy Lemon Bars
adapted from Ree (with love, of course)

Ingredients

1 1/3 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 c brown sugar, lightly packed
1 c old-fashioned oats
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c lemon juice, freshly squeezed
zest of 1 lemon (~1 tsp or so)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F.

Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. In a separate bowl, cream butter and brown sugar together. Add flour mixture and oats. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of an 8 x 11 pan (or something similar).

Mix the condensed milk, lemon juice, and zest together in a bowl. Spread onto the crumb layer in the pan. Top of with the other half of the crumb mixture. Don’t press!

Bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Allow to cool on the counter for ~ 30 minutes before cutting into squares and refrigerating until cool. (They’re much better cold. Trust me!)


Love it. You will too.

– Sharlene


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