Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A little bit of Southwest Luv.

So tonight is my final presentation for my campaigns class. We have been working on a campaign for Southwest Airlines, and I decided I wanted to have some small favors for our judges (my professor and some of his colleagues). I knew I wanted to do something with Southwest's colors (or new color scheme) of Blue, Orange and Red. Originally, they used grey orange and red.

So I searched for a recipe where I could throw in m&ms. I found a recipe for "Crispy Peanut Butter Snacks," which turned out to to be a variation of Rice Krispie Treats. INstead of using small m&m baking pieces like they suggest in the recipe, I used large ones but made sure they were frozen before mixing them in. A few still melted a bit, but I made sure to work quickly. So much for not melting in your hand! They turned out very cute and delicious. I will definitely be making these in the future.

red, blue and orange m&ms with a little help from Snap, Crackle and Pop!

melt baby, melt.

after being turned into balls.

you can find the recipe here.

adapted from m&m's website recipe for: crispy peanut butter snacks.
4 cups miniature marshmallows
1/4 cup margarine
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 cups crisp rice cereal
1 1/2 cups chopped M&M'S® Chocolate Mini Baking Bits

Melt together marshmallows, margarine, peanut butter and salt in heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Pour over combined cereal and candies, tossing lightly until thoroughly coated. With greased fingers, gently shape into 1-1/2 inch balls. Place on waxed paper, cool at room temperature until set.


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

dinner for one.

i had a killer headache this evening so i bailed on my plans to go to the dashboard confessional concert at school, and i cooked instead. it was one of those nights where you rummage through your cupboards and fridge to find ingredients worthy of a meal. well i had vegetables, and i had tomato and red pepper soup, and i had whole wheat pasta, so i figured id put it all together. and it turned out wonderful. no recipe needed. pure fantasty and no plan whatsoever. and zero idea of how it would turn out.

whole wheat spaghetti
with a roasted red pepper and tomato soup-sauce 

i started off by sauteing some onions, asparagus and broccoli. i then drained some rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies and added them to the veggies. the green chilies give off the perfect amount of heat for the dish. i love spicy.

i left this on a low heat and added some non-fat plain yogurt, probably about a 1/3 of a cup. i then added the small single serving of pacifics natural roasted red pepper and tomato soup and let it thicken. the sauce was spicy and went perfectly with the french white grenache i recently bought at cork (my wine store). 

the soup-turned-spicy-sauce was delicious, and i look forward to having the left overs for lunch tomorrow. maybe over eggs? or a salad? 

finished with college pb oatmeal bars!

yup. it's true! i'm done with college classes. i am graduating in 2 weeks, and i'm leaving dallas in 2.5 weeks, which means i need to get rid of many of the items in my kitchen cupboards. so why not take full advantage of the creamy peanut butter and oatmeal! i found this recipe on quakeroats.com and tweaked it just a little. instead of spreading peanuts across the top, i made a brown sugar streusel. they were easy and turned out delicious. i used butter instead of margarine, and i made sure to beat the eggs in one at a time even though the recipe doesn't mention that step. 

oh and i threw in a pack of peanut butter m&ms i had laying around. i wish i had had more! so the random green spot in the bar is a green m&m.

you can find the recipe here.

triple peanut butter oatmeal bars with brown sugar streusel. 

1-1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine or butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups QUAKER Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 bag (8 oz.) candy-coated peanut butter pieces

1. Heat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray 13 x 9-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Beat sugar, peanut butter and margarine until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined oats, flour and baking soda; mix well. Stir in peanut butter pieces.
3. Spread dough evenly in pan. Sprinkle with peanuts, pressing in lightly with fingers.
4. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or just until center is set. Cool completely on wire rack. Cut into bars. Store tightly covered.

Servings: 32 bars

for the streusel, i used this recipe that i found on culinarycafe.com

streusel topping

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Using a pastry blender or fork, cut in the butter until fine crumbs form.
Using hands, squeeze together most of the mixture to form large clumps.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Peanut Butter Brickle Choc Chip Cookies

while this post may come off as similar to my last cookie post, it is very different. for one reason in particular: there is peanut butter in the dough! i absolutely love peanut chocolate chip cookies, and these are by far the best i have ever tried. 

since i had almost 3/4 of a bag of heath bar bits left, i figured i better use my procrastination (it's finals week) to make a tasty bunch of cookies! i found this recipe on hershey's website. it was perfect for me!
while i followed the recipe pretty closely, i did use jiffy creamy peanut butter insead of reese's as the recipe suggests, and i added semi sweet chips to it! 
they were perfectly chewy and adding semi sweet chips was a great addition. everyone who tried them loved them. the bit of heath bar topping adds a bit of crunch and chew at the same time. it also gets stuck in your teeth, which i love. 

here is my recipe:
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
1-1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups HEATH BITS 'O BRICKLE Toffee Bits, divided 
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 375°F.
2. Beat shortening, peanut butter, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Add egg; beat just until blended. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture. Stir in 1 cup bits; reserve remainder for topping.
3. Drop by heaping teaspoons about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet; top each with reserved bits.
4. Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until set. Do not overbake. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet (this really helps!). Remove to wire rack. Cool completely. About 3 dozen cookies.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

cheesecake pops with a swedish twist.

my first daring bakers challenge post! how exciting. i have to admit that ive been waiting all month to post this. i went ahead and executed the recipe at the beginning of april. well, i wanted to share it with everyone but had to wait. i thought about my changes and additions to the recipe for about a week before charging into the experiment full speed. and boy was i happy with the results - as was everyone else.

so when the recipe arrived, i thought "cheesecake? hmmm how can i make it special?" since i have a great pride for all things swedish and any swedish dessert, i decided to venture down that road. and what did i come up with? a few thoughts on typical swedish taste. and one spice in particular: cardamom. a basic type of ginger, cardamom is commonly used in nordic treats. when i searched the spice on a swedish recipe site, i found everything from cardamom waffles to cardamom ice cream to cardamom panna cotta to rhubarb pie with cardamom. it's extremely versatile and its aromatic flavor was exactly what i needed in my cheesecake.

well i can report that it was a super pleasant experience with a lot of fun in the kitchen. the time in the oven (35-45 min) recommended for the cheesecake was far too little. it took my cheesecake over an hour to finally finish baking. but when it was finished. it was wonderful. the aromatic smell just filled the kitchen. at one point, my mom and i wanted to bail on the recipe and just grab a spoon and eat it straight out of the pan -it smelled that good! but we restrained ourselves, and put it in the fridge over night.

the next morning, it was off to central market to pick up some milk chocolate baking discs. i love that you can buy them loose weight. plus, who can say no to a trip to CM? but sundays are dangerous (and delicious) because there are a million little employees handing you samples left and right.

okay, sorry i got sidetracked. back to the recipe. while at central market, i also picked up my other staple swedish item: anna's pepparkakor. the cardamom ginger snaps were perfect for my crumbled cookie topping on the outside of my cheesecake.

sure, my cheesecake pops are not pure perfection, as i am sure most of the other seasoned daring bakers' will be. but i had a blast. and i like the rough rustic look of my pops. and the result? do they taste swedish? more than expected. i loved them. and so did everyone who tried them.

the only problem? it's hard to stop after you've had one. you feel the need to have another. and another. and well...another.

here's the original recipe:

Cheesecake Pops
Makes 30 – 40 Pops
  • 5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • Boiling water as needed
  • Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks
  • 1 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionary coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate.)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • (Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)
  • Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars) - Optional ((I used Anna's Pepparkakor in the original flavor...and crushed them up for the crumbs!))

Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.
In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.

Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.

Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.

When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.

Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth. Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionary chocolate pieces) as needed. Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.

check out the daring bakers here. 

choc chip pb toffee cookies.

as you will soon learn - peanut butter and chocolate = one of my favorite combinations. when i see the pair on a dessert menu, it is almost impossible for me to pass up. my favorite cookie is a peanut butter cookie with chocolate chips. the following cookie recipe is your typical choc chip cookie but there is no direct pb in the dough so peanut butter chips are used. 

well, i was feeling adventurous and decided to tweak it a little. so i used the nestle swirl pb morsels, semi sweet morsels and then heath bar crunch pieces. they turned out great. the heath bar toffee bits give the cookie a bit of crunch. i also love when it gets stuck in your teeth. im sure my dentist hates them. but hey i've never had a cavity before.

p.s. the recipe really makes a lot of cookies. a lot. i had to give them all away so i would not stuff my face.

1 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (the real stuff)
2 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup of semisweet choc chips
3/4 cup of peanut butter swirl chips
1 cup of heath bar crunch bits

First, beat softened butter until creamy. Then add in white sugar and brown sugar and mix well. Next, add eggs (one at a time) and vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. 
Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture. Once this is mixed well, add chocolate chips, peanut butter swirl chips, heath bar crunch bits.
Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets sprayed with cooking spray. 
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. 
This recipe should yield 40 to 48 cookies.


hi all. so i just added this blog to concentrate on my recipes. i love playing around in the kitchen. i have passion for all foods. especially baked goods and sweets. in a couple of days ill be posting my first daring bakers post which i completed at the beginning of this month. i currently live in texas home of the worlds greatest bbq and texmex. but my foodie roots definitely started long before my move to the lonestar state. i was born and lived in dubai until i was 6 so i adore spicy middle eastern flavors, but i would consider my taste buds to be primarily swedish with austrian undertones. im always up for a culinary challenge, and i am always looking for unique recipes. so here goes...