Saturday, April 30, 2011

Peeps S'Mores

Yes, that is a photo of the finished product! If you’ve ever had a S’more you know that they traditionally consist of graham crackers, a piece of a chocolate bar, and a toasted marshmallow or two. I have heard of others who change up an ingredient or two but not me. I am a traditionalist when it comes to S’mores. It has to be one whole graham cracker, ¼ of a Hershey chocolate bar, and two toasted marshmallows. That has always been my recipe for S’mores. That is until now.

My friend (thanks, Sheila!) linked to a posting of someone who made S’mores using a Peeps chick in place of the marshmallows. Since we happen to be out camping while the Peeps are available I thought this would be a great opportunity to try it out.
Doesn’t it look like the chick is staring at me begging me not to put him in my S’more? 

He wasn’t so lucky, as you can see. After his toasting he almost looks a bit more like a rubber ducky, huh. I guess the caramelizing of his sugar gave him that look. And the poor guys’ eyes are gone and his beak is a toasty brown.

Have I become a convert of Peeps S’mores? Nope, not a chance. I found that while they were certainly the same sugary sweet as a traditional S’more, the marshmallow peep either didn’t get hot enough or wasn’t big enough to even start melting the chocolate bar. And I have to say I love my chocolate bar oozing out of the graham cracker along with the toasted marshmallow. So, it was fun for a change of pace but we’ll be sticking with the traditional S’more around this campsite. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Daring Bakers - Maple Mousse in an Edible Container

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!

I was excited to take on the Daring Bakers challenge this month. For a very, very long time I have wanted to make an edible cookie bowl. In fact, I had it on my list of my top 100 things to bake and have looked longingly at a certain recipe card in my notebook for many years. I never really had a reason to make one up to this point so it was great to have an excuse.

The first one I made went together beautifully and then as I was transferring it from the pan to the cooling rack, perched precariously on two cookie spatulas, it totally fell apart on my counter. I had an inkling of what was coming but my poor husband, who I had just asked to help, was totally bewildered and thought I might blame him for the mishap. What can a girl do except get right to work on another one with the leftover dough.

While forming the second cookie bowl, I nibbled on the pieces from the first. I only wish it had tasted as good as all my good thoughts about it over those many years that I had looked longingly at the recipe. It was pretty blah. My only hope was that it would improve once the mousse was in the bowl.

Other Daring Baker challenges have given me the opportunity to make mousse and while I don’t make it often I wasn’t nervous about making it. I was curious as to the taste, though. I love a good maple bar (a doughnut with maple frosting) and I enjoy a bit of pure maple syrup on my pancakes and waffles, but the thought of a whole serving of maple mousse had me a bit perplexed as to how it was going to taste.

The mousse went together nicely. There were no mishaps with the preparation of this item and I was really looking forward to tasting the finished product. And oh my goodness was it rich! One spoonful was enough for me. Of course, with that first tasting I admit to eating more than one spoonful but it was only because I wanted to get all the crispy pieces of ham eaten up. After that though, I was able to leave the mousse in the fridge and just take a spoonful every now and then and feel content.

One thing that was a bit off for me was the temperature. When tasting my first serving I hadn’t left it in the fridge very long so it was set up but it wasn’t really cool. I expected then that when I had subsequent servings, after sitting in the fridge even a few days later, the mousse would be cold. However, every bite I took seemed like it was the same temperature as when I first put it in. Strange, not sure what that was all about. But it did make me think that maybe I will look for some maple ice cream flavors to try since I really enjoyed the maple flavor but was looking for something cool.

By the way, some Daring Bakers added bacon into the mix. I thought I would also cook up some bacon to sprinkle on the top, but wouldn’t you know that the day I completed the challenge I had no bacon in my fridge. I did have a few pieces of shaved ham so I decided to crisp those up and crumble them on top. It probably was not as enjoyable as bacon would have been, but it did give it some nice crunch in every bite. Enjoy!

Edible Cookie Bowl Recipe
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup blanched, slivered almonds, finely ground
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cover the outside of a loaf pan with foil. Spray with vegetable cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, almonds, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium, beat butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add flour mixture; beat until a dough forms, about 2 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll dough out to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter with scalloped edges, cut out shapes.

Cover pan with cutouts, overlapping and pressing them slightly.

Bake cookie bowl until edges are firm, about 15 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and cool completely.

To remove the cookie bowl, carefully lift it off the foil-lined pan. Remove foil.

Maple Mousse
1 cup pure maple syrup (not maple-flavoured syrup)
4 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups whipping cream (35% fat content)

Bring maple syrup to a boil then remove from heat.

In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and pour a little bit of the maple syrup in while whisking (this is to temper your egg yolks so they don’t curdle). Add warmed egg yolks to hot maple syrup until well mixed.

Measure 1/4 cup of whipping cream in a bowl and sprinkle it with the gelatin. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Place the bowl in a microwave for 45 seconds (microwave for 10 seconds at a time and check it in between) or place the bowl in a pan of barely simmering water, stir to ensure the gelatin has completely dissolved.

Whisk the gelatin/whipping cream mixture into the maple syrup mixture and set aside.

Whisk occasionally for approximately an hour or until the mixture has the consistency of an unbeaten raw egg white.

Whip the remaining cream. Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the maple syrup mixture. Fold in the remaining cream and refrigerate for at least an hour. Remove from the fridge and divide equally among your edible containers.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Chicken Tortellini Soup

I have had this soup recipe in my recipe notebook for years and yet this is the first time I have ever made it. At my first job I participated in a Friday lunch bunch which entailed signing up for one Friday during the school year and preparing soup for the 25 to 30 people in the group. That one day was a bit of work, but not having to bring my lunch every Friday for the rest of the year made it all worthwhile!

One year someone had a brilliant idea to make a cookbook of all the soup recipes that we brought in for lunch. This recipe was one of those submitted and I have to say that I don’t know why I waited for so long to make it. My only excuse is that I don’t make soup all that often and when I find a recipe I usually make it exclusively. This soup will now be added to that repertoire because it tastes really great and is easy to make. Enjoy!  

Chicken Tortellini Soup
1 pound chicken, cut into 1-inch cubes
46 ounces chicken broth
1 cup carrots, sliced
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup dried cheese-filled tortellini, uncooked
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons snipped parsley

Cook chicken over medium heat 5-7 minutes until no longer pink. Add remaining ingredients, except parsley. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover; reduce heat.

Simmer over medium-low heat 20 minutes or until pasta is tender. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Makes 6 servings

Monday, April 18, 2011


“How many ways can you make rice krispy treats?” I remember thinking this when I put rice krispy treats on my top 100 things list. My reply to myself, “There can’t be that many.” Apparently I was wrong.

I have made rice krispy treats many times over the years that I have been cooking and baking. These always used to be a staple in our food items when we went camping, and I now prepare them at the beginning of the month for our youth group’s birthday celebration. However, in all those preparations I have rarely varied the ingredients. Really, why try to improve on an already good thing? I have added a few ingredients here and there, like chocolate chips and chopped up chocolate candies. But this batch of scotcharoos was definitely a variant of rice krispy treats.

I originally thought you just added butterscotch chips to the mix, but I was mistaken. Not only do you add butterscotch chips, but you also add peanut butter and there are none of the traditional marshmallows. The original recipe that I found I thought used way too much sugar so I actually didn’t add any to the batch. I guess if you like your scotcharoos super sweet you may want to track down the original recipe. I thought it was perfect. Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from
1 cup  light corn syrup 
1 cup  peanut butter
6 cups crispy rice cereal
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels 
1 cup  butterscotch chips

Place corn syrup into a 3-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it begins to boil. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter. Mix well. Add crispy rice cereal. Stir until well coated. Press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Set aside.

Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips together in 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Spread evenly over cereal mixture. Let stand until firm. Cut into 2 x 1-inch bars when cool.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Irish Soda Bread

I know it's a bit past St. Patrick's Day, but it's never too late to post a yummy recipe, right? I actually made this a few days past March 17th since I couldn't seem to get my act together before then. I had this great plan to make corned beef and cabbage and found a stellar recipe, only to read it the morning of and find out that it was supposed to brine for 10 days. Ummm, I guess I didn't read far enough ahead when I found that one. I ended up using a substitution corned beef and cabbage recipe along with this soda bread recipe and we had a late Irish celebration. Enjoy!

Irish Soda Bread
Source: Simply Recipes

4 to 4 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup craisins
1/2 cup raisins
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 3/4 cups buttermilk 

Preheat oven to 425°. Whisk together 4 cups of flour, the sugar, salt, and baking soda into a large mixing bowl.

Using a pastry cutter, work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal, then add in the raisins and craisins.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add beaten egg and buttermilk to well and mix in with a wooden spoon until dough is too stiff to stir. Dust hands with a little flour, then gently knead dough in the bowl just long enough to form a rough ball. If the dough is too sticky to work with, add in a little more flour. Do not over-knead! Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf.

Transfer dough to a large, lightly greased cast-iron skillet or a baking sheet. Using a serrated knife, score top of dough about an inch and a half deep in an "X" shape. (The purpose of the scoring is to help heat get into the center of the dough while it cooks.)

Transfer to oven and bake until bread is golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped, about 35-45 minutes. Check for doneness also by inserting a long, thin skewer into the center. If it comes out clean, it's done. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sausage Cheese Muffins

These little muffins were a tasty treat! I really had a hard time not continuously popping these things in my mouth. I made them for our "tea party" MOPS meeting where we bring dainty little finger foods, but I also ended up eating some on the way home from the meeting and for lunch that day. I'm not sure why they had an addictive quality for me, but all I know is that they did. Enjoy!

Sausage Cheese Muffins
Source: Quick Cooking Magazine

1 pound Italian sausage
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed cheddar cheese soup, undiluted
1/2 cup milk
2 to 3 teaspoons rubbed sage
3 cups biscuit/baking mix

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin tin.

In a skillet over medium heat, cook sausage until no longer pink; drain. In a bowl, combine soup, milk, sage, and sausage. Stir in the biscuit mix just until moistened. Fill miniature or regular muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until muffins test done (less time for miniature).

Makes 4 dozen mini muffins or 2 dozen regular muffins

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chicken Caesar Wraps

A short and sweet write up. Great wraps! Yummy salad! Either way you eat it, it tastes great!

Chicken Caesar Wraps
Source: Taste of Home

3/4 cup fat-free creamy Caesar salad dressing 
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 
1/4 teaspoon pepper 
3 cups cubed cooked chicken breast 
2 cups torn romaine 
3/4 cup Caesar salad croutons, coarsely chopped 
6 whole wheat tortillas (8 inches)

In a large bowl, combine the dressing, cheese, garlic powder and pepper. Add the chicken, romaine and croutons. Spoon 2/3 cup chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla; roll up. 

Yields: 6 servings.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fool's Dinner

I usually don't post twice on the same day, but today I did. When I scheduled to post my Twice Baked Potatoes recipe I wasn't going to be doing an April Fool's dinner this year. At least that's what I thought.

I'm not really a prankster. I'm very literal and while I have a sense of humor I can't tell a joke to save my life. Jokes have always been my husband's department. In fact, when I tell a joke a lot of times people don't pick up on it because they don't expect it from me. There have been a few times that I have told a great joke and only my husband picks up on it. I've been know to tell him often for a few hours afterward about how it really was a great joke. He will usually agree with me throughout my multiple pleas for acknowledgment.

So, back to our April Fool's dinner. Last year I was able to really pull a prank on my husband with the Chicken Not-Pie. I knew I probably wouldn't be so lucky this year seeing as how he is at home during the day now, and because I've done a few food pranks over the last few years. Instead I decided to go a more subtle route and introduce our son to the joys of prank food on April Fool's. Technically this wasn't a prank, no ketchup in the doughnut here, just a fun meal to enjoy at dinner as a family.

I introduced our son to the joys of a TV dinner. I don't know that we've ever eaten one since we had him 4 years ago. Of course, he thought that because it was a TV dinner it was supposed to be eaten in front of the TV. That is the idea, right. Right away he decided that he would eat the chocolate cake. Well, that's for dessert, you need to eat some fried chicken, mashed potatoes, or peas and carrots first. Okay then, I'll take the peas and carrots. Okay. He was a little stupefied when I popped the "peas and carrots" out of the pan and he took a bite only to realize it was a cupcake. Prank #1 done, cupcake off to the side to be saved for the real dessert. Now, do you want a cupcake with white or pink frosting? Meatloaf cupcakes with mashed potato frosting just isn't as exciting.

What's funny is that even though he knew the "peas and carrots" were really a cupcake when we started divvying out the other TV dinner components he decided that he did not want the fried chicken because he didn't like chicken. He was adamant about not having the fried chicken. It took me taking one out and cutting it in half on my plate before he realized that this too was a cupcake and not the real thing.

It was kind of fun seeing April Fool's day through his eyes this year. The silly statements he made followed by "April Fool's" were priceless.

TV Dinner Cupcakes from Hello Cupcake

Meatloaf Cupcakes with Mashed Potato Frosting
Source: Bake at 350

3/4 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
1/3 cup milk
1 small carrot, chopped
1/2 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 lb. ground chuck
1/2 lb. ground pork
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
2 eggs
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 12 regular size muffin tins.

Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk and set aside.

Saute the vegetables in olive oil until softened. Transfer to a food processor and process until very finely minced.

Mix the meat, eggs, breadcrumbs, parmesan, parsley, salt & pepper and vegetable puree in a large bowl with your fingers.

Place meat mixture into the muffin tins and bake until brown and pulling away from the sides, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from tin and cool on rack.

Mashed Potatoes:
2- 3.3oz. packages instant mashed potatoes (I used butter flavored to stay away from any "bits" in the mix)

Follow the instruction on the packages. Once finished, divide potatoes in half. Add a small amount of beet juice to one half and whip together (for pink frosting).

Let cool slightly, transfer to a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe the frosting on the cakes.

Twice Baked Potatoes

I love potatoes! Mashed, baked, fried . . . you name it, I like it. I don't do twice baked potatoes often just because it's a bit of extra work and I enjoy a good baked potato just as much as a twice baked. But for my husband's birthday dinner I wanted something a bit more than just a plain old baked potato.

These photos don't really do justice to this recipe though. Inside the potato is the mashed goodness with all the fixings. You just can't seem to see that through the top layer of cheese. Believe me though, they are in there. Yum! Enjoy!

Twice Baked Potatoes
Source: Great American Recipes card

4 baking potatoes
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk or half-and-half, hot
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash black pepper
dash nutmeg
dash paprika
4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons grated sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash the potatoes, pat dry. Prick each potato with a fork in a few places. Oil the skins with butter or olive oil. Bake potatoes on a rack for about 1 hour or until potatoes are done.

Cut a thin slice from the top of each potato. Scoop out the pulp into a bowl. Mash the potato pulp with hot milk until fluffy. Beat in the butter and the green onion. Add the seasonings. Add the bacon crumbles. Spoon potato mixture back into shells. Sprinkle with both cheeses.

Place potatoes on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 until potatoes are piping hot and cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 4