With Sweet Dreams and Even Sweeter Days

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fast Break Blondies



It seems as though Tuesday has become my volunteer at the PSPCA day and get around to posting on the blog day.  Which is a-ok with me.  

I come home super tired from playing with dogs all afternoon and Sadie always seems to go extra crazy.


The one and only time Sadie yawned in her life.  
(Framed forever, never to be seen again.)

There is absolutely nothing better to come home to, for me, then a blondie.  I think I've made it pretty clear the love affair that exists between me and blondies.

And let me tell you.

These are off the charts.



But let's back up a step.  For those of you who are not familiar with the "Fast Break" candy bar let me introduce you to your new best friend diet killer.


The Fast Break candy bar.  Peanut butter and nougat covered in milk chocolate.  Aka the best candy bar Hershey's has ever come up with in my opinion.

I haven't trekked to Chocolate World in Hershey PA for fear they have a extra large size of these.

It would be the end of me.

Basically I chopped up 3-4 of these and threw them into my favorite blondie batter.  And boy were they winners.

The one thing I would change about these next time is that I wouldn't add the caramel drizzle on top again.  While it did make them very pretty, the texture was better without it.

Perfect actually.  The texture was perfect.

I can't wait for you to see my next blondie concoction,

But for now.


Heaven.



Fast Break Blondies
Servings 16

Ingredients:
1 batch of perfect blondies
3-4 king size Fast Break candy bars (chopped into 1 inch pieces)

Pour blondie batter into pan as stated in recipe.  Place fast break pieces all throughout blondie batter.  Push some down and add more if you'd like.  Bake as directed, let cool and slice.  Enjoy!

Recipe: A Mary Original




Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cookies 'N Cream Peanut Butter


An alternative title to this post would most likely be "boy-bait".  We've all heard that age old saying that the way to a guy's heart is through his stomach right?

Well I haven't tested that theory with this peanut butter yet.  But I'm pretty sure if this can't do the trick, nothing can.

This right here is the equivalent of peanut butter on steroids.


I've never been one of those "I like to eat peanut butter straight from the jar" kind of people.  (Nutella is another case)  Now I certainly LOVE peanut butter, but spoon to mouth with the stuff was just never my style.

However...

with this all bets are off.  I've found myself with a utensil in it almost every afternoon just to get a fix.  So if you already are a peanut butter jar fiend, I'm just saying,

You've been warned.

This took all of about ten minutes to whip up and made me four (FOUR!) jars.  It's bad news central over here.

(Who are we kidding, we know it's good news.)

And if you want to be really naughty about it,


Yeah, I'm glad I went there too.

So make this peanut butter and change your life.

And all I'm saying is if you gift your sweetie with a jar and get a ring, I better get an invite to the wedding :).


Enjoy!


Cookies 'N Cream Peanut Butter
Servings: 3-4 small jars

Ingredients:
1 jar creamy peanut butter
10 oreo cookies (crushed into small pieces)
1 cup white chocolate chips (melted)

Directions:
Crush oreos and place into a large bowl.  Scoop out peanut butter and place in bowl.  Stir until just combined.  Pour in melted white chocolate chips (leave some whole if you feel dangerous) and stir until combined.  Pour into sealable jars (or if you can't find them tupperware would be ok) and refrigerate for at least 20 min.  Enjoy as a spread or straight from the jar. :) 

Recipe adapted from: Picky Palate





Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Healthified Rice Krispie Treats


For me today was a day filled with lessons.  Some of the new nuggets of knowledge now lodged in my brain:

1.)  Dissecting an animal in lab for the first time is not the scariest thing in the world, but afterwards an appetite will be nonexistent.
2.)  Walking dogs while volunteering at the SPCA is a fabulous way to spend a sunny afternoon and is something I should do more often.
3.) A sure way to become instant friends with ladies at the local coffee shop is to laugh out loud unintentionally while reading The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz.

Today was actually a pretty wonderful day and I wanted to end it by sharing a recipe with you!

Yes you!

The one at the computer screen.


These rice krispie treats are not what one would normally expect when they hear the phrase.  But if you keep an open mind and give them a try anyway, I think you'll really like them.

The one thing you'll want to remember when making these is peanut butter and honey aren't as good of a binder as marshmallows are, so you'll want to really press them into the pan and let them set up for a little bit for best results.

If you're looking for a satisfying rice krispie treat with a slightly healthier side, these are the way to go.

Try them and then meet me at a coffee shop for some good times and David Lebovitz.

Enjoy!


Healthified Rice Krispie Treats
Servings: 9 large or 16 small

Ingredients:
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup natural oats
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 cups rice krispie cereal

Directions:
Combine peanut butter and honey in a heat proof bowl.  Microwave for 15-30 seconds and stir until melted and smooth.  Add the cereal to the peanut butter/honey mixture and stir until well combined.  Stir in oats and cranberries until well dispersed.  Spray an 8x8 pan with cooking spray and press rice krispie mixture firmly inside.  Refrigerate for at least 30 min or up to one day.  Cut into 16 squares and enjoy.  Treats are best if kept in the refrigerator and hold together better the longer they are in there.

Recipe adapted from: Savoring the Thyme





Sunday, March 20, 2011

Kit-Kat Cake



Sometimes I go into making a baked good with a clear and concrete idea of how I want it to turn out, and as I'm going through there are some aspects that don't go exactly as planned and I have to re-evaluate and change.

This cake was one of those times.  I went into it knowing exactly how I wanted my final product to look, and truth be told it was completely different than this.  And you know what,

I like the way it turned out even better.



This cake can make you look like a master baker with minimal time and effort.  It's basically a win-win.  

Since I was just playing around with the idea of kit-kats as decoration, I went with a plain yellow cake and a chocolate buttercream icing.  Next time I will definitely mix in some chopped up kit-kats into the batter to amp up both their flavor and their charm.

But really you can use almost any cake flavor you think you'll enjoy with kit-kats!  If you're not confident in your baking abilities and still wanna give it a go, try a boxed mix and canned chocolate frosting and practice decorating. I'll never tell!

Overall, this cake was stunning, and one of the prettiest cakes I've churned out.  If you're looking for a low maintenance cake with major impressive factor, definitely give this a try.

This cake is example of one of the many lessons I have learned from baking thus far.

I have the type of personality where I'm driven and don't like giving up on things I start.  Baking has taught me to apply this, but also that even though things might not turn out as planned that's alright.



Sometimes things turn out even better than I originally imagined.


Kit-Kat Cake
Servings: about 12

Ingredients:
Any flavor cake baked in two 9-inch round cake pans (cooled)
Any flavor icing
3-4 packs of King Size Kit-Kats

Directions:
Bake cakes and let cool completely.  Stack one cake of top of another on a serving plate and frost both between cakes and all over outside with first thin layer of icing.  Refrigerate for 1 hour to 1 day.  Frost with another layer of icing on outside and smooth with offset spatula.  Using a large star tip and pastry bag, pipe swirls (using a back and forth motion applying equal pressure) around bottom of cake and top.  Remember icing is forgiving, if you don't like how something looks wipe it off and try again!  Chop kit-kats into small but not fine pieces.  Arrange kit-kat pieces on the top of cake.  Keep covered until serving and enjoy!

Recipe: A Mary Original




Friday, March 18, 2011

Florida: A Foodie's Dream

Reader Be Warned:
This is an extremely photo heavy post.
But one that is completely worth it!

It is an absolutely beautiful day here today.  Like the most gorgeous day I have seen all year.  It makes me remember back to a week and a half ago when I was having the time of my life in Florida.

And I thought it was high time I shared all the details with you.

So without further adieu, enjoy!


Our first stop for breakfast in Clearwater Florida.


Our food here was beyond amazing.  I'm typically not a yogurt for breakfast girl, but when I saw my mom eat this last year, I knew when I came back this had to be mine.  (And of course I ordered a scone on the side - this is me we're talking about).

Next up that day was a trip to see my boys!!


We saw Roy Halladay pitch and all of our favorite starters except for Chase Utley and Chooch.  This is my third year coming to spring training and everyone should try to make it down there sometime.  It is such a good time.

Even though the Phillies lost and we didn't get an autograph, the girls still had an awesome time.  


The next day for breakfast we went to my second favorite place for food in all of Florida, Word of Mouth.


Gram was clearly overwhelmed by how amazing her muffin was.  A coconut-pineapple love muffin to be exact.  I have to say I agree with Gram.  Words don't do this muffin justice.


As for myself, I opted for the strawberry banana crepes with fresh fruit and whipped cream.


Then came Monday.  Not only the beginning of our journey to Key West, but also our FIRST time of the trip visiting the holy grail of all eateries.  Yoder's Restaurant.  My happy place.


We've been coming to Yoder's for years, and I really wish I could convey to you how passionate I am about it.  Its food is all amish cuisine and just basically the best stuff I have ever eaten period.


The waitress looked at me a little funny when I took a moment to admire my pumpkin bread with apple butter.


I had never had sausage gravy and homefries until Yoder's and I refuse to order it anywhere else.  It is seriously the food of the gods.

Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of my blueberry cream cheese stuffed french toast.  As you could imagine it was beyond amazing as well.

After Yoder's we were off on a long drive to my new favorite city in the whole world.

Key West.


Key West is the very last spot on the Florida Keys.  Mile marker 0 to be exact.

And let me tell you....

It was beyond beautiful. 

The view from our hotel!

Our first stop at Key West was at the famous Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, where margaritas are not even questioned.



I'm actually 100% positive that my mom hasn't stopped singing Margaritaville since this moment.  Her and Jimmy Buffet share a birthday.  I think it's fate.


Key West also has some amazing wildlife.

 
native roosters!

pelicans!

As well as some amazing food options.


Lucky for me we happened to be there on Fat Tuesday, so I just had to indulge.

It was my duty.


Then after some sight-seeing, (Ernest Hemingway hung out here!)^

And a quick stop to the southern most point in the continental U.S., we packed up and headed back to Sarasota and then back to Pennsylvania.

Our trip went so fast, and I was sad to see it end.  

But with my stomach and heart both so full, I couldn't help but plan next year's trip.

Key West, Yoders... you sure as hell haven't seen the last of me. :)





















Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cookies 'N Cream Oreo Ice Cream Pie



As some of you already may know, yesterday was Pi Day!  A day in celebration of the mathematical number pi (which is roughly 3.14 -the decimals places go on infinitely without repeating!) has long been a favorite of mine, because it typically involves eating pie to celebrate.

I mean who wouldn't love having a reason to bring pie to math class.

I know I'm a day late on posting about pi day but what with a paper and a lab report, yesterday just slipped away from me.

But this year I was determined to celebrate pi day with making a pie of my own.  There was only one problem.  As I stated above, week days are really hard for me to put a lot of time into extensive baked goods.  Sadly, the time just doesn't usually exist.

However, I would not be deterred.  I finally remembered Pi Day before 11:45 pm on March 14th and I knew it was a sign.



Enter Cookies 'N Cream Oreo Ice Cream Pie.  The active work for this pie was done in a snap!  And cookies 'n cream happens to be my second favorite ice cream flavor out there. (Props to you if you know my first!)

Truth be told I saw the recipe title online and didn't even look at the recipe.  I just kind of flew by the seat of my pants.  And I'm pretty thrilled with the results.  Sure it may not be the fanciest most time consuming dessert out there...

But boy is it good.

So even though Pi Day may be over for another year, make this pie. It is super easy and so so tasty.

And I promise if I'm ever your teacher I'll let you bring one in for us on March 14th. :)

Enjoy!



Cookies 'N Cream Oreo Ice Cream Pie
Servings: About 12

Ingredients:
1 pre-made chocolate pie shell
1 quart reduced fat cookies 'n cream ice cream (softened)
4 oz semisweet chocolate (finely chopped)
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/3 cup heavy cream
oreos for garnish

Directions:
Once ice cream is softened but not melted, spread in pie crust until smooth.  Freeze for 30 min.  Meanwhile put chocolate and corn syrup in a heat proof bowl.  Heat cream in saucepan over medium heat until just boiling.  Pour cream over chocolate mixture and let sit for a minute.  Stir until smooth.  Let cool slightly.  Pour chocolate ganache over ice cream pie and spread with spatula.  Top immediately with either chopped or whole oreos (or both).  Let freeze for at least 3 hours before cutting and serving.  Keep frozen until serving.





Saturday, March 12, 2011

Hazelnut Cookies


I am back from my week long Florida getaway!  It was amazing and went by far too fast.  From Clearwater to Sarasota to Key West and back again, I ate my way through all of Florida's best eateries and I have plenty of stories to share with you.

One of the highlights of my trip?  My gram beating me at a double tequila shot in Margaritaville.  

Clearly I have to work on my game.

But before I go into all the wonderful details of my Florida trip, I have a few recipes from before I left to share with you!

The recipe was not on the top of my list to try.  It didn't look that amazing to me and the reviews I had read on it were only sub-par.  

But there was a bag of hazelnuts sitting on my shelf, and two egg whites that were going to go bad, so I figured what the heck.



And let me tell you, I am SO glad I tried these.  Texturally, they are crisp yet tender on the outside and chewy on the inside.  They are much more filling than any other cookie I have tried with no butter and only egg whites.  

The ground hazelnuts give them a nutty and sweet flavor, but not overbearingly so.  These would be perfect with a brunch spread of fruit, cheese, and maybe some whipped cream or with a cup of coffee!

One note about these is Martha wanted me to form them into little pyramids, but quite honestly this just wasn't working for me.  I'm not sure what my deal was, but all I could crank out were these little triangle like beings.

Hey, I still think they're cute.

Any shape you do for these should be ok but be warned, they don't change at all during baking so the shape you put them in the oven as is what they will look like when they come out.

Enjoy!


Hazelnut Cookies
Servings: 12

Ingredients:
1 1/3 cup hazelnuts (I use chopped- I couldn't find whole to save my life)
3/4 cup sugar
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
Process hazelnuts and 1/4 cup sugar in the bowl of a food processor until well combined and a fine powder.  Beat egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form.  Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.  Add hazelnut mixture, flour, and vanilla and mix on medium-low speed until just combined.  Refrigerate for at least one hour (or up to a day).  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mold heaping tablespoons of batter on greased baking sheet into pyramids (or triangles... or really just cute mounds).  Space about 2 inches apart.  Bake cookies 15-18 minutes.  Let cool and serve.  Cookies are best served on the day they are made.

Recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart's Cookies

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Samoa Truffles


I always seem to forget that Girl Scout season is upon us until it's almost over.  Thankfully for me, I have a few fellow Girl Scout cookie lovers in my life.  And luckily we have the same taste when it comes to the almost limitless choices.

We voted and while the thin mint comes in a far far second, there is one girl scout cookie that stands way above the rest.


The Samoa

(Or Caramel Delight now, but really they will always be Samoas to me.)

Now you all know I LOVE cookie truffles, but never in my wildest dreams would I think of chopping up two whole boxes of these to make truffles out of them.

With a box only having 14 cookies, and costing a pretty penny, I was quite satisfied to just chow down on them as is.

But one day when I came home there were two boxes sitting there with specific instructions to make these truffles; I knew it was time.

And wow.


These are seriously good eats.  I am so glad I finally got the kick in the butt to try them, because they literally blew my mind.  So so good.

These truffles follow the basic cookie truffle formula, and can be put together in a snap.  Just be sure not to eat them in a snap like I did.  

Some things just can't be helped.


If you love the cookies, these truffles will take it to a whole new level. :)

Samoa Truffles
Servings: 20-30

Ingredients:
2 boxes of Samoa cookies
4 oz cream cheese
12 oz milk chocolate
1 Tbsp vegetable shortening

Directions:
Chop cookies and place with cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor.  Combine until smooth.  Roll into truffle shapes and place on a baking sheet with wax paper.  Chill in freezer while melting milk chocolate and shortening in a heat proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Dip each truffle and return to wax paper.  Chill in freezer an additional 10 min.  Decorate with additional chocolate if desired.    Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Recipe: A Mary original



Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Creamy Avocado Spread


I love sandwiches.  For a girl whose favorite meal of the day is breakfast, sometimes it's hard to find something perfect to whip up in a cinch for lunch.

But a good sandwich, we all know, can make or break any mid-day meal.

There is nothing wrong with the classic combinations such as turkey and cheese, ham and cheese etc etc, but sometimes truth be told these standbys start to feel a little, well....

...old.

It's nothing personal turkey cheese and mustard sandwich, you were my favorite growing up and I still enjoy you now, it's just sometimes I crave a little more.

Enter this spread! 

This spread re-lit the flames of the love affair between me and sandwiches.  It's the perfect solution if the same old same old is just getting a little boring after awhile.

It's really great on crackers too (shown above) and you'll find yourself looking for excuses and items to put it on.  If you're trying to save money by packing a lunch instead of buying it every day, I definitely say give this a try.


Your sandwiches and crackers will thank you. ;)


Avocado Spread
Servings: 1 Jar/Bowl

Ingredients:
1 1/2 avocados roughly chopped
2 Tbsp heavy cream
3/4 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp stone ground mustard (or any mustard you have on hand)
1/4 tsp paprika 
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt to taste (I needed 3-4 dashes to get the flavor I wanted)

Directions:
Combine all ingredients except salt in the bowl of a food processor and combine until smooth.  Add salt dash by dash, processing for 2 seconds and tasting between each dash until preferred taste is obtained.  Pour into jar or bowl and refrigerate until ready to eat.


Recipe adapted from: Apron of Grace