August 29, 2012

Pineapple Banana Mango Pops

I'm on vacation, you guys. It's awesome. I sleep till 8:30 (I know that doesn't sound like much, but that's sleeping in a whole three hours for me, and I never was much of a late sleeper). I watch TV in my pjs. I get glue all over myself. I bother Needy McSnuggles while he's sleeping so he rolls over and lets me rub his sun-warmed belly. I can make things that take hours to cook like stew and lasagna. I can refuse to answer the phone if I want. Today's also mommy's birthday, so I'll be making her favorite white chocolate chip cupcakes later on. And I can. Because I have time.

You know what the awesomest part is? I don't have to go back to work until Tuesday. Because Monday is labor day.
To us adult-type people (pbffft), labor day is awesome, because it's one of the few days we get off of work. But when I was a kid, labor day was not so awesome since it meant the pool closed and school was starting again. But I'm having such an awesome time on my vacation, I decided to make something that might make back-to-school time a little bit easier. Popsicles. But not just any popsicles. Popsicles you can eat for breakfast.
You heard me. These popsicles are super healthy, nothing but pureed fruit and juice. I didn't even sweeten it further, though you could. They melt really slow without much mess, so they're great for the little ones, too. And can you imagine the look on a kid's face when you wake them up for the first day of school and tell them they can have popsicles for breakfast? Makes the bitter pill of back-to-school time a little bit easier to swallow. And helps get them out of bed quicker. Win-win.
These are easy to make, sweet enough to fool your mind into thinking they're dessert, and healthy enough to eat for breakfast. Seriously, where's the drawback? I totally had one for breakfast this morning. While watching TV in my pjs.

Pineapple Banana Mango Pops {Printable Version}
Yield: 6 6oz. pops
2 ripe bananas
1 (20 oz.) can pineapple chunks, drained
1 cup mango juice*
A few drops agave nectar, if desired


Add bananas, pineapple chunks, and mango juice and blend until smooth. If necessary, add agave nectar
until desired sweetness is achieved. Pour into ice pop molds, being careful to leave at least ½ inch from
the tops of the containers. Freeze for a minimum of 6 hours.

Tip: These also make great smoothies. Just use frozen banana and pineapples.

*You can substitute orange juice, if desired.

Recipe by Kim

August 26, 2012

Sunday S'mores: S'mores Cupcakes

You know, I got a beef with the Cake Boss. You'd think I'd love him, right? Italian Jersey boy, disproving the stereotypes perpetuated by the Jersey Shore that Jerseyans are idiotic, untalented white trash. With cake. But I have a bone to pick with him. See, ever since that show started, people assume that when you say you're a baker, you also mean cake decorator. I'm not a decorator. I've worked with fondant a grand total of three times, one of which was an epic fail. I don't even make cakes that often, never mind decorate them. I prefer to stick with cupcakes, my 1M swirl, and some sprinkles, thankyouverymuch. It's simple and easy, while still looking pretty.

August 19, 2012

Sunday S'mores: S'mores Scones

I kinda sorta maybe a little bit lied last week. The last Sunday S'mores will be the last Sunday in August, not the 2nd. The 2nd is still baby CC's first birthday and I will be making stuff for him (including the smash cake-- I'm not sure why I love the idea of him face-planting into one of my creations so much), but I miscalculated the number of Sundays. I'm taking a vacation last week in August, so wishful thinking has me a week ahead. And since CC's having a Toy Story themed birthday, my s'mores-y treats don't work in too well. So next week will be *gasp* the very last Sunday S'mores.

Since I know you're all desperate for details of my vacation, well sorry to disappoint you, but it will be a staycation. Actually, I've been calling it my craftcation, and my brother's been calling it the anti-diet vacation. I plan on crafting. And baking. And sleeping in. And snuggling with Sir Purrs-a-lot (aka Jake). And making goodies for CC's birthday party. I know, I'm boring, but please note that this will only benefit you, my lovely readers.
So we move onto scones. S'mores-y scones. My family loves scones. I'm really not sure why I don't make them more often, since they're quick, easy, and require minimal clean up. Stumped for an idea this week, and realizing that I hadn't eaten breakfast yet, scones seemed like the way to go. I adapted a recipe that I had for pecan banana bread scones since it used brown sugar and cinnamon, I subbed in some whole wheat flour and swapped the sour cream for yogurt (because that's what I had), and added some honey. Then I mixed in some chocolate chips, drizzled on some marshmallow, et voila! More s'mores for breakfast.

I will admit that the scones weren't as graham cracker-y as I wanted, and the yogurt kind of covered the flavor of the honey. But they were still some darned good scones. And they were nice and filling, so they're a good breakfast. Just take one of these, maybe a little fruit, and a glass of milk (or tea, or *blech* coffee), and you're good to go.

S'mores Scones {Printable Version}
Yield: 8 scones
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1¼ cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
½ cup cold butter, chopped
¾ cup fat-free vanilla yogurt
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp. honey
Marshmallow drizzle, to decorate

Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, mix together the flours, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon,
and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender (or rub it in with your fingertips) until the mixture
resembles coarse crumbs. Add in the yogurt, chocolate chips, and honey and stir well (mixture will seem
dry and crumbly). Turn out the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead gently about 10 times.
On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat mat, shape the dough into an 8-inch round.
Using a sharp knife, cut the round into 8 wedges, but do not separate them. Bake 18-20 minutes, until
the tops and edges are golden brown. Remove the scones from the cookie sheet and place on a wire
cooling rack, carefully separating them. Drizzle with marshmallow and serve warm.

Tip: To make your own marshmallow drizzle, heat marshmallow crème (Fluff) and a little bit of water in the microwave for a few seconds.

Recipe adapted from Gold Medal Best Baking Recipes Magazine

August 15, 2012

Raspberry Red Wine Ice Cream

I've never really claimed to be a grown up. Ever. I mean, technically that's what I am, being twenty-mumble years old and with a respectable job and I car that I bought with my own money. But honestly, what's so great about being a grown up? Sure, there's the whole staying up as late as you want and eating ice cream for dinner and pizza for breakfast, but that kind of loses its shine when you've got to wake up at 5:30 to get ready for work and pizza and ice cream give you a tummy ache.

I don't even like grown up things. I don't drink coffee-- I used to buy juice in the campus convenience store while everyone was fighting for the coffee machines-- I'm not a fan of most veggies, and I'd much rather watch cartoons than be depressed by the news. I go to the comics first in the paper, I like to play board games, and I prefer something bright and colorful and sparkly over something "tasteful" any day of the week. Dinosaur chicken nuggets are cool, carrots are stinky, and Harry Potter rules.
And then there's grown up drinks. I think most anything with alcohol in it is icky, unless it's sweet and fruity, and even then I'll probably just stick to my sparkling apple cider, thankyouverymuch. But then every so often, my inner adult will rear its head and say something like, "Psst. Psst. Hey you. How about some raspberry red wine ice cream? Doesn't that sound good? Don't you want to make it to bring to a classy dinner party, where there's real plates and fancy cocktails and no popsicles? Where people talk politics instead of debate whether Batman or Iron Man would win at chess? Where there's no Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot? Where people talk about depressing adult movies instead quoting Monty Python and Dr. Horrible and The Princess Bride?"

Then the rest of me will go, "Whoa, whoa, that's taking it too far, buddy. If I make you that ice cream, will you let me play Final Fantasy in peace?"

And the adult part will concede with an ominous, "For now."
So I made a grown up dessert. It's classy. And alcoholic. Meant to be served all fancy in an expensive wine glass, not in a plastic dollar store bowl. And drizzled with dark chocolate syrup instead of the normal stuff. This is most definitely not a kid-friendly dessert. I could have cooked off some of the alcohol, but this way I can call it boozy ice cream and pretend it's not all classy and grown up.

Well, as the Doctor says:
What's the point of being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes?
Drinking? No officer, I haven't been drinking. I just ate some *hic* ice cream.

Raspberry Red Wine Ice Cream {Printable Version}
1 pkg. (12 oz.) frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed
Approx. 1½ cups red wine
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1½ cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup half and half

In a large bowl, add the raspberries. Toss with 2 tbsp. sugar. Add enough wine to cover the berries.
Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight. Mash the berries with a fork or in a food processor.
Press through a fine mesh strainer to achieve 1½ cups liquid. Discard solids or save to add to the ice

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and ¾ cup sugar until fluffy. In a medium saucepan,
heat the cream, half and half, and remaining sugar over medium-low heat. Stir until sugar is completely
dissolved. Continue to heat until it just begins to simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Add
the milk mixture to the eggs 1 ladleful at a time, whisking constantly. When all the milk has been added,
return the mixture to the pan and heat over low, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 160°F on
a food-grade thermometer. Do not let it boil.

Mix the berry/wine puree with the custard. Cover and refrigerate until fully chilled, 4-6 hours or
overnight. Add to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If
desired, add the berry solids to the cream a few minutes before fully frozen.

Tip: I used a Zinfandel wine because that’s what I had in the house. First rule of cooking with wine: never buy anything you wouldn’t drink. Also, adding the berry solids to the ice cream will add texture and a more intense flavor, but feel free to skip if you don’t enjoy the seeds.

Recipe by Kim

This recipe is featured on Walking on Sunshine and Foodie Friends Friday Linky Party

This was also posted at The Lady 8 Home's Weekend Gala Dinner Extravaganza

August 12, 2012

Sunday S'mores: S'mores Cinnamon Rolls

We're almost to the end of Sunday S'mores, my friends. There are only two more after today. The last one is going to be September 2nd. I was going to end with the last Sunday in August, but September 2nd just happens to be my little cousin CC's first birthday party, and I'd be making something anyway, so I figured, why not do something s'mores-y and go out with a bang?

I have to admit, I will miss Sunday S'mores, even if I'm starting to feel a little s'mores'd-out. Apparently there are a billion and three ways that you can put together the traditional graham cracker, chocolate, and marshmallow combo, but I'm starting to have trouble coming up with new ways. *laughs*

So take the next few weeks to bid a fond adieu to Sunday S'mores. Maybe I'll come up with a new weekly series for fall. Any suggestions.
I had not actually planned to do S'mores cinnamon rolls when I started out this week's Sunday S'mores. I had planned on doing a S'mores roulade. But once again, planning and I proved why we never work well together. So I went hunting through the kitchen for inspiration and saw a can of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. I guess I was still in a kind of a roll mood, since that sounded like an excellent idea. So I decided on a graham-cracker roll, with a chocolate chip filling and a marshmallow drizzle.
I'm not gonna lie. Yeast doughs frighten me. But I have Max (my bread machine), so I just shove everything in him and set him on the dough cycle (that sounded terrible. Sorry Max!). I'm a wuss, what can I say? If you don't have a bread machine, just follow the mixing and kneading instructions from any reliable cinnamon roll or sweet dough recipe. I'm afraid I can't comment on that since I'm more of a scaredy-cat than Needy McSnuggles.

S'mores Cinnamon Rolls {Printable Version}
Yield: 15 cinnamon rolls
For the rolls
¾ cup warm water (approx. 110°F)
1 tbsp. instant or active dry yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups whole wheat flour
½ cup finely crushed graham crackers
½ cup cinnamon sugar (or 1/3 cup sugar plus 2 tsp. cinnamon)
½ tsp. salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, softened

For the filling
2 tbsp. butter, softened
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Marshmallow topping and extra chocolate chips, to decorate

Prepare the dough: Add the yeast to the water and let activate for 10 minutes (skip this step if using
instant yeast). Add all the ingredients for the rolls to a bread machine and set on the dough cycle. When
finished, turn out onto a lightly floured service and let rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Roll the dough out
into a rectangle approximately 10x15”.

Prepare the filling: Spread the butter evenly over the dough. Combine the rest of the filling ingredients,
and sprinkle evenly over the dough.

Roll the dough into a log, starting from the long side of the rectangle, and pinch the edges to seal.
Grease a 9x13” baking dish with butter or cooking spray. Cut the log into 15 1” pieces and place in the
baking dish, leaving a little space between each piece. Cover lightly and let rise for 30 minutes or until
doubled. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 5-10
minutes. Drizzle with marshmallow topping and chocolate chips and serve warm.

Tip: To make your own marshmallow drizzle, heat marshmallow crème (Fluff) and a little bit of water in the microwave for a few seconds.

Recipe by Kim

August 9, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Ice Cream

I'm not quite back up to my fighting weight, writing-wise (writing weight?). I've been have trouble concentrating and keeping up my inspiration. The muses are fickle beings. I'm not super worried about word volume as I can pull off 5,000 word days when I need to, although my brain starts leaking out of my ear at the end of those marathon days. The best was my first NaNo, where I pulled out 18k in three days (3k the first, 5k the second, and 10k the third) but in the last few days of NaNo, your powers of writing tend to turn into something superhuman, and not only was that my very first but it was a plot that had been rattling around in my head for a long time, and I could see actually ending it in 50k words. I did, too-- 50,022 to be precise, and had an ending so sugary sweet that it would rot your teeth out.

That's the best part of NaNo, the marathons. You stop thinking and just start writing. I'm no planner, we all know this by now, so I don't write from an outline or have character sketches or anything other than a vague idea of how to start it off. If I'm lucky, I have some idea of how it should end. If I'm really lucky, I have a scene in my head that needs to happen somewhere in the middle. So when I'm writing at a clip of 1000-1200 words an hour, I'm not really thinking about where the story needs to go or what I need to add, I just let the story take me where it wants to go. At the end of that 10k day, I had created a whole mythology, written an entire scene from a squirrel's point of view, and added a new character that I had never consciously created.

I sound totally crazysauce right now, huh?

The hardest part is really finding a plot that'll keep me inspired and interested throughout the whole ordeal. I lucked out with the Cheese Man. Maybe I should just write a sequel.
In the meantime, here's an ice cream that's sure to help you find inspiration. I call it cinnamon roll ice cream, because it kind of tastes like cinnamon roll filling. I have a love of brown sugar and a love of cinnamon and I don't know why it took me this long to put them together into ice cream.

This also happens to be the absolute easiest ice cream that I've ever made. No cooking, no tempering eggs, and only minimum chilling required. Add to the ice cream maker, and ta da! Plus, holyohmigoodness is it tasty. I could just drink the base, to tell the truth.
If you can't find cinnamon chips, increase the ground cinnamon to 2-3 tsp. or to taste. Or, just make brown sugar ice cream, because that's the best part. And then write a novel in 50,000 words.

Cinnamon Roll Ice Cream {Printable Version}

2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup whole milk (or light cream)
¾ cup dark brown sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ cup cinnamon chips

In a mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients except the cinnamon chip until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, or until fully chilled. Add to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When the ice cream is a few minutes from being done, mix in the cinnamon chips. Freeze in an air-tight container.

Recipe by Kim
P.S. If anyone would like, I have an excerpt of the aforementioned Cheese Man novel that I've been polishing for contests. I'd like to get some feedback from someone who doesn't know the rest of the story.

This recipe is featured on  Linky Party

August 5, 2012

Sunday S'mores: S'mores Cereal Treats

This... has not exactly been the world's best summer. In fact, it's been a right little piece of sh**.

And I'm already behind in my NaNo novel.

It's stupid, but it's beginning to feel like crap only happens when I fall behind on my wordcount. I barely wrote the first week in June, and... well, you know what happened. I didn't meet my goal on the first, and I find out that someone I knew in high school had passed away that morning.

Like I said, it's stupid. My writing doesn't have supernatural powers. The balance of the universe isn't decided on whether I can bang out 1,667 words a day. And Scott was already gone by the time I decided that 300 words wasn't a huge deficit, and I could make it up the next day. I know all this. I know that it's just a terribly cruel coincidence, but knowing doesn't help or bring back the excitement and joy that I used to feel during NaNo. Knowing doesn't bring back my inspiration. And catching up won't bring any of them back.
So in deference to my maudlin mood this week, I decided to keep things simple for Sunday S'mores. S'mores cereal treats have been circling the internet. They're all basically made the same way, with Golden Grahams and chocolate chips. I was going to do the same, except I bought Quaker Honey Graham Oh's (they were cheaper).

To get the basic recipe and pick up some tips, I hopped on over to Cookies & Cups. Shelly is a krispie treat genius (and fellow Jersey girl), so I knew I could get some reliable information from her site. And I really should have, but I got distracted by her Fluffernutter Sandwich Krispies. She'd sandwiched peanut butter and Fluff inside the krispie, and I knew that's what I had to do for my s'mores treats.
So I measured out the cereal. I thought about crushing it, but didn't. Mistake #1. (I also could have mixed the cereal with some Rice Krispies). I then mixed the chocolate chunks with the cereal, thinking that would be the best time to add them. Mistake #2. If I had actually looked for tips on Shelly's site as I had planned, instead of focusing in on the Fluffernutter sandwich recipe, I might have made things easier on myself, but when have I ever done that?

The Quaker Honey Graham Oh's ended up being too big to evenly cover the pan, and the chocolate melted as soon as it hit the hot marshmallow. Not to be deterred, I pressed on, adding fudge sauce, realizing I didn't have enough, and adding chocolate spread (both of which ended up leaking though the large gaps between cereal pieces). I then added the Fluff to the other half, and tried picking it up to sandwich the two together, only to find that that half was not solid, and did its level best to fall apart and get Fluff all over the place. I somehow managed to get them together, but not before making a complete and total mess of myself.
Still, the end result was messy, gooy, and delicious, and isn't that the way that all s'mores should be?

S'mores Cereal Treats {Printable Version}
Yield: 16 treats

6 cups graham cracker flavored cereal (such as Golden Grahams or Quaker Honey Graham Oh's)
1 (10.5 oz.) bag mini marshmallows
1 cup chocolate spread (or fudge sauce)
1 cup Marshmallow Fluff (marshmallow crème)
¾ cup milk chocolate chunks (optional)
3 tbsp. butter

Spray a jelly roll pan (or rimmed baking sheet) with cooking spray. In a large saucepan over low heat,
melt the butter. Add the marshmallows and stir continuously until just melted. Remove the pan from
heat and stir in the cereal. Stir in the milk chocolate, if using. Using wet hands, pat the mixture evenly
into the prepared jelly roll pan. Let cool for 10 minutes.

Heat the chocolate spread or fudge sauce until at a spreadable consistency. Cut the cereal treat mixture
in half lengthways. Spread the chocolate on one half and the Fluff on the other. Sandwich the two halves
together. Chill in the refrigerator a few minutes, until the chocolate spread is firm. Cut into squares and

Tip: If using Honey Graham Oh's or any cereal with large pieces, crush it slightly before adding to the
marshmallows. Smaller pieces mean a firmer treat. Also, if adding the milk chocolate chunks, freeze
them, and make sure to add them after mixing in the cereal, otherwise they will melt.

Recipe adapted from Cookies & Cups