Rice Krispies Extravaganza

What do you think of when you hear Rice Krispies treats?

… childhood memories?

…times with Grandma?

…spilling Rice Krispies all over the floor?

I have been baking for many years and love baking complex treats, but I still love the simplicity of Rice Krispies treats.  These are one of the first treats I learned how to make.  I make this treat for friends, bake sales, or for an afternoon or evening snack. I have made these treats forever, and I recently had a strong desire to try this recipe with other cereals.  I wanted to try these treats with Cocoa Krispies and Fruity Pebbles (I understand that this is a different type of cereal).  First, I want to talk about the basic recipe that I used for all of these.

Rice Krispies (I call the treats by the cereal name without the word ‘treat.’ do you?) came be made two ways: on the stovetop or in the microwave.  I have always made my Rice Krispies in the microwave because it seems easier, but for all of you, I wanted to try the other method, too. So, I could report back my findings.

Well, the two versions tasted a little different.  I even did a blind taste test with my mom (a wonderful baker in her own right).  I liked the stovetop version better, and she liked the microwave version better.  I think it had to do more with the marshmallow to cereal ratio than the different cooking methods.

I think most families have their way of doing it, and they always make these treats the same way.  I urge you to give both methods a try.

Both techniques are found on the back of the Rice Krispies box.

Let me give you quick instructions for both methods.

STOVETOP MEHTOD:

In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat.

Add marshmallows, stirring marshmallows until melted.  See the progression of the marshmallows melt.

Once melted, remove from heat and immediately add the cereal.

Look at that sticky goodness.

Spread into a greased pan (9×9 will yield 1 1/2 inch. thick treats, 13×9 inch. pan will yield 1/2 inch treats).  Use your hands (coated with cooking spray) or a spatula (coated with cooking spray) to press down the treats into the pan.  Cut and enjoy!

I made these during crew season, and I took a picture of my beat-up hands (this isn’t as bad as it gets).  When your hands look like this, use the spatula.

MICROWAVE METHOD:

Microwave butter and marshmallows in a large microwave-safe bowl.  How long?

This is where it gets a little tricky.  I microwave mine for 30 seconds at a time, on high, stirring after each 30 second increment. Look at those puffy, puffy marshmallows.  De-lic-ious!

When do you stop microwaving them?  When they have started to form one big blob and return to their original size when the microwave is off, stop.  Air on the side of less time.

This is what you want:

Add in the cereal.  Follow the rest of the stovetop instructions.

Look at this masterpiece. It seems that the microwave treats are glossier but less white.

Enjoy!

For variations, I wanted to try different cereals.  In all my attempts, I have never tried anything but the traditional.  Never dipped them in chocolate, added other ingredients like chocolate chips, nuts, or candy.

I tried these delicious treats with Cocoa Krispies and Fruity Pebbles with abysmal results.

The Coca Krispies treats brought out the fakeness of the ‘cocoa’ in the cereal.  The Fruity Pebbles tasted bad for similar reasons.  The fruity taste that is so yummy in a bowl with milk becomes a bad part about the treats.  They both were not good, but the trial and error was great for you because now you don’t have to try these combinations.

All in all, I discovered the awesome tastiness of pure Rice Krispies treats: just butter, marshmallows, and Rice Krispies.

Enjoy!!!

Recipe: Rice Krispie Treats Extravaganza

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Cinnamon Raisin Bread

My family likes bread/toast for breakfast.  My brother likes to make French toast with his bread.  My mom likes to top her toast with peanut butter and jelly.  My dad likes to slather his with butter against the rest of the family’s wishes because he thinks a little butter on your toast is a lot of butter in my mind.  I, actually, enjoy eating toast with butter or butter and jelly on occasion, but I prefer the old standby of cereal with milk for breakfast.  The reasons are: I don’t enjoy change so eating the same thing for breakfast is what I like, I don’t want to have to think too hard about what I am eating for breakfast especially early in the morning, and finally, I’m usually hungry in the morning, and I don’t want to have to work hard for my breakfast.  (I’m sorry past grammar teachers because I know the past sentence was 3 sentences smashed together.)  I really enjoy college because there are pancakes, waffles, omelets, and pastries for breakfast, and all I have to do is show up.  Oh, the wonders of college.

Well, back to the point.  My family likes bread for breakfast, so when I got home from college, I decided to make some breakfast bread.  This recipe is a nice cinnamon raisin bread that has whole-wheat flour and oatmeal to add some health and brown sugar to add some sweetness.

For the recipe:

Add buttermilk to a saucepan and heat just to a scald (light boil).  If the buttermilk begins to curdle, that is okay.

I actually used powdered buttermilk that is in the baking aisle near the powdered regular milk and the canned milk.  This powdered buttermilk comes as a powder (obviously), and you just add water to make buttermilk in whatever quantity you need.  This jar can sit in your fridge for about a year instead of the normal shelf life of fresh buttermilk of 1-2 weeks.  Usually for recipes, I add the powdered buttermilk to the dry ingredients and the water for reconstituting to the liquid ingredients.  You can also mix up the buttermilk in a separate bowl and add it when needed.  For this recipe, you do need to mix the buttermilk up separately and heat to a slight boil.

On to the rest of the recipe:

Add the buttermilk into a large bowl.  Add in brown sugar, salt, and butter.

Mix until well blended.  Allow to cool for a few minutes.  Once cool, add in the egg, oats, whole-wheat flour, cinnamon, and yeast.

It is essential that you let the buttermilk mixture cool because if it is too hot, you can kill the yeast.  Yeast will die when it is 140˚, and water, the main ingredient of buttermilk boils at 212˚F.  Mix ingredients for a few minutes until well mixed.  Allow the batter to rest uncovered for 10 minutes.  This allows the gluten network to start developing and will make kneading easier and shorter.

Look at that nice and wet batter.

Start to add in the bread flour (add the 1st cup) and beat until flour is incorporated. Add more bread flour as needed.  You may not need all 2 cups.  It depends on where you live and the time of year.  A humid climate will need less water/more flour because the flour will soak up water from the air.  Use your judgment for the flour, but when in doubt, add less flour.  When it becomes hard to mix in the bowl, turn out onto floured surface.  Knead for 8 minutes adding more flour if dough becomes sticky.  The dough should be smooth and elastic.  If you poke the dough with your finger, it should spring back relatively quickly meaning the gluten has developed enough.

Put the dough in a bowl that is coated with either oil or non-stick cooking spray.  Flip dough over so that all sides are coated.  Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until double in bulk: about 1 or 1 ½ hours.

While the dough is rising, combine cinnamon and sugar in small bowl for the filling. Also, place a piece of parchment paper on a pan (lots of p’s), and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Once dough has finished rising, turn out onto floured surface.  Cut dough in half.  Roll each piece into a rectangle about 16 x 7 in. The fol in my dough is due to the fact that it was the right length but a tad too wide.

Brush half of the melted butter onto the dough.

Sprinkle half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture on top of the butter.  Sprinkle on raisins. I like a lot of raisins, but add as many as you would like.  I actually made one loaf without raisins for my mother who doesn’t like raisins.

Roll the short end of the dough like a jelly roll, and pinch the seam closed.

Place bread loaf on prepared pan.

It make look ugly, but it will taste pretty.

Do the same with the other half of the dough.

Cover loaves with plastic wrap, and allow to double in bulk again, about 1 hour.  Preheat the oven to 375 ˚F, and put a cast iron pan on the lowest rack (I’ll explain why later).  To add a little variety to your loaf, take a wooden spoon and stick the handle into a bag of flour.

Now take the spoon handle and press into the center of the dough, pressing all the way to the bottom.  Cover with plastic wrap again, and allow to rest for 15 minutes.  Now place into preheated oven.

This is where things get interesting. I have a bad habit of skimming instead of reading.  I do it with emails and with recipes.  Both of which are very bad.  For emails, I tend to miss key points when I skim the email.  On many occasions, this has ended badly with scheduling 2 things on the same night, forgetting to  bring something to an event, etc.  For recipes, it means that I make the bread and it comes out perfectly, but when I reread the recipe and make changes for my blog, I notice things I didn’t get the first time.  For this recipe, I was supposed to add the raisins into the dough instead of sprinkling them on top of the filling.  I think my way worked better because the raisins were pretty evenly distributed which is hard with kneading.  See the distribution?

Another mistake I made was with the baking.  I was supposed to bake the loaves in an oven that had a cup of hot water in the bottom to create steam.  I didn’t read that, so I didn’t do that.  Instead, I just put my loaves in the oven and baked them for the allotted time.  How could I have skipped such a chunk of directions, you may be asking?  Well, I was ready to bake, and I just skimmed for the length of time for baking.

What does the hot water in the oven do?  This creates steam in the oven and helps create a crisp crust.  Think of baguettes, they have super crunchy crusts.  That is because the bakeries that bake baguettes (I’m really into alliteration today, have you noticed?) have very expensive ovens that have steam injection.  The boiling water is a cheap and somewhat successful substitute.

So, now I will tell you what you should do and what I should have done to bake these loaves.  Remember that cast iron pan, here’s its moment in the spotlight.  Place the bread pan into the oven.  Before you close the oven, add about a cup of boiling water to the cast iron pan.  Close the door immediately.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.

Enjoy with a touch of butter, some hot coffee, and today’s paper!  My idea of a perfect morning.

Recipe adapted from: CookingBread.com

Recipe:Brown Sugar Oatmeal Raisin Bread

Fell’s Point Food Tour (Baltimore)

My mom came to visit me this past weekend in Baltimore, and I decided to take her on a food tour.  What is a food tour?  A walking tour that includes some tasty treats with a bit of history thrown in.

We decided on the Fell’s Point food tour, provided by Charm City Food Tours. They also have a food tour in Little Italy and Federal Hill with a new tour in Mt. Vernon being offered soon.

Our tour guide was very helpful, providing wonderful tidbits about the food and about the different sites we were seeing.

Our tour began at Hungry Andy’s where we had delicious pit beef with delicious homemade BBQ sauce and sweet onions.  We also had some wonderful french fries with just the right amount of sea salt.

We even got to talk to Andy, himself.  He gave us his secret for quality french fries.  If you want to know, you will have to go there yourself.  It’s well worth the trip.

Next, we headed over to Stuggy’s where they specialize in hot dogs.  We had the Baltimore dog, a hot dog with baloney and mustard.  Sounds like a really odd combination, and it was to me.  I’m a traditional hotdog with ketchup gal.  But, I tasted the hot dog, and it was delicious.  The owners grind up the meat themselves and make their own hotdog meat, and it is evident in the dog.  I would suggest visiting Stuggy’s and get whatever dog tickles your fancy.

We had some time to walk off those munchies, while our tour guide filled us in on some background about Fell’s Point.

These numbers are on a few remaining curbs, and mark the stalls for the market.  They were only a few feet apart, demonstrating the tight space that these people worked in.

We walked along the waterfront.

We headed over to the Wharf Rat Bar, a favorite evening hangout.  I sipped a beer but it was a little strong.

We saw the four remaining wood houses in Fell’s Point, painted in eccentric and exciting colors.

Lots of the houses had these tiny, little alleyways back to the backyard like the turquoise door above.  Some of these walkways were super skinny.  Guess no one was overweight in those days.

We saw the grave plots of the Fells family. They owned acres upon acres of land that they built up and sold off to make way for Felltown.  Sadly, the family had no heirs, so Fell’s Point was absorbed into Baltimore.

Right next door to this plot was an interesting door knocker.

I found this one too.

We meandered over to Todd Conner’s, where we feasted on a mini crab cake toppeed with red pepper alioli and seared tuna. Very good and wonderfully cooked.

We traveled up to the 5th floor of the Inn at the Black Olive, where they have tucked away a fabulous restaurant, the Olive.  We tasted a variety of spreads on their wonderful bread.  They had some to-die-for hummus, colored green by their olive oil, baba ghanoush (a delectable eggplant spread), Tzatziki (a greek yogurt and mint spread), some delicious feta, and some olives (I hate olives, Ugh!).

We were able to sit down, enjoy the view, and chat with the other people on the tour. They also have a lovely market where you can buy these dips, enjoy some organic wine, or pick out some fresh fish.

We finished the evening at Mr. Yogato.

We sat down in a converted alleyway that was enclosed.  The windows were painted to reflect the space’s original decor.

We devoured our tangy frozen yogurt with strawberries and chocolate chips.

My mom and I had a fantastic time and left content with full bellies.  I would recommend you check out these particular Charm City Food Tours or check out the food tours in your area and find the hidden gems you never knew about or look for food tours when you are visiting somewhere and enjoy some food sprinkled with history and fun.

Wherever you go, be OPEN to new ideas.

Slacker

So, I have been slacking.  I haven’t been working out.  I haven’t been baking. And,  I haven’t been blogging.

 

So,  I’ve decided to get back on the bandwagon with all of these things.  I will go to the gym every morning, you are my witness.

 

I have 8 blogs in the works that I will publish soon, and I hope to get baking again.

 

I am completing a chemistry internship in Balitmore.  I am having a wonderful time, doing lots of organic chemistry reactions and learning lots of other chemistry and science information.  In addition to this lovely internship, I was given housing, but I have to make all of my own meals.  Not too much of a problem, but our kitchen consists of 2 burners and a fridge.  These amenities are less than desirable, but my mom visited me this weekend and brought an extra microwave down.  Now, I can cook a few more things, and I have found some delicious looking no-bake recipes.

 

I will fill you in on all of these things, but I have decided to start this new journey tomorrow.

 

Today, I’m snacking on some nutritious sour gummi (and yes, the package spells gummy with an i) bears and watching lots of MONK episodes on Netflix.  Don’t judge, you have all done the same thing at one time.

Now, I’m going  to get back to my bear pals, but stay tuned for a tour-i-fic post tomorrow.

 

 

 

Cookie Intervention

So I’m addicted to sweets. Cookies, cupcakes, brownies, and everything else.  This is great because I love to bake, but not great for my waistline.  I eat desserts after every meal basically, lunch and dinner.  Bad, bad, bad! So…

 

I’m taking a 2-week hiatus from desserts.  This is going to be a long 14 days, already 2 days down though.

 

Just because I’m taking a break from desserts, doesn’t mean you need to suffer.  Here’s a link for Molten Chocolate-Nutella Pudding Cakes from Noble Pig.  If you are trying to abstain from sweets too, well I hope you feel the same pain that I feel when I see this picture.  Chocolate with nutella that’s molten.  Can you imagine anything better?  Now, get out a napkin and wipe up your drool!

Year in Review

So, I know it’s already the third week in January, but I thought this would be a good time to give you some updates on this blog.

 

Thanks everyone for your support and comments.  I can’t believe that I started this blog on a whim, and many of you have stuck with me through my recipes and random posts.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

 

I’m sorry I haven’t updated my blog in a while.  I haven’t taken a break from baking, just taking a break from posting.  I would like to post more often, but my winter break has been crazy.  Filled with tons of rides in the car and train, crossing states and crossing snow.  Tomorrow, I’m heading back to school, and I’m hoping to pick back up with my blogging.  I love that this blog gives me an excuse to bake, and my friends seem to like it too.

 

I have 400 recipes saved on my computer that I want to try, so I pledge to make 2011 the year when I try to conquer 100 of those recipes.  Will you join me in baking? Trying new flavors and recipes and expanding your repertoire?  Here’s to a great and tasty 2011.

 

Thanksgiving

Just got back from a lovely Thanksgiving break, although I did cut half my finger off with this slicer dicer machine my family has (yes, I’m exaggerating, and sadly it had a safety piece that I ignored). How was your Thanksgiving? What are you thankful for?

 

Well, I’m thankful for my great ability to bake, who doesn’t love a warm cookie, a fresh pie, or a cute cupcake.  Okay, okay, I’m also thankful for my great family and awesome friends.

 

Sadly, it’s back to the real world, full of class, homework, and thousands of other duties.  Can I fast-forward to Christmas, skip through finals and papers?

 

Well, it’s a few pictures of my Thanksgiving pies to remind me of the relaxing few days full of good food.


Pumpkin pie: not my best pie, can’t figure out where that chunk went.

 

A tad burnt but delicious! I enjoyed gobbling off the head of the turkey.

One of my best pies, she’s a beauty!!!

 

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, complete with lovely pies or other delectable treats.

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