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

Rocky Road Brownies

I’ve never in my life had Rocky Road ice cream (for those of you who don’t know what this is: it is chocolate ice cream with nuts and marshmallows).  For some reason, I never thought it sounded good or I always thought there were better ice cream flavors (coffee, peppermint, mint chocolate chip…, I’m getting hungry for ice cream now).  I found this recipe for Rocky Road Brownies, and these caught my fancy.  I think it was the lightly roasted/browned marshmallows on top that appealed to me.  As I was whipping up this recipe, I looked up some more about the history of the rocky road.

First, William Dreyer, one of the founder’s of Edy’s Ice Cream, cut up walnuts and marshmallows with his wife’s SEWING SCISSORS (crazy?) and added them to this chocolate ice cream in 1929.   It’s been said that he used his wife’s sewing scissors because at that time, only large marshmallows were being produced.  I couldn’t prove that, but it sounds plausible. He based this mixture on a similar candy bar his partner, Joseph Edy, had created.

The name was created to give people a laugh and a smile amidst the Great Depression.  It’s amazing the complex history of a popular ice cream flavor.

For the brownies, they mimicked the main flavors of chocolate, marshmallow, and nuts.  Real Rocky Road ice cream is made with almonds, but I made them with walnuts because that is what I prefer.  Do what you want.

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 ˚F.  Next, spray an 8 x 8 in. square pan with cooking spray. Chop up your pecans or almonds (whichever you prefer). 

Put chopped nuts, marshmallows, and chocolate chips in a small bowl and mix together.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine melted butter, sugar, and vanilla until blended.

Lots of sugar.

Add one egg at a time mixing well after each addition.

Add cocoa, flour, and salt and stir the batter until everything is fully incorporated. (Cocoa=pure joy)

You notice the beater.  That is from my KitchenAid mixer.  It was so nice to come home and use it.

Spread the brownie batter into the prepared pan trying to spread the batter as evenly as possible. 

Sprinkle the almond/marshmallow/chocolate mixture over the top of the batter.  Again, try to spread the mixture evenly.  Using the back of a spoon or your fingers (why bother getting a spoon dirty when you have 2 beautiful hands), gently press the topping mixture into the batter.  This will ensure that the topping backs into the brownie and won’t fall off the top once baked.

Bake for 30 minutes or until done.  The marshmallows will be slightly crisp and golden.

Enjoy!

Recipe from: Savory Sweet Life

Recipe:Rocky Road Brownies

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

1 Year of Blogging Celebrated with Delicious Cake

I can’t believe I have been blogging for ONE whole year. Well, actually yesterday was the 1-year anniversary, but last week my computer was getting fixed, and this week my internet hasn’t been working, and the last few days I’ve been busy finishing up my internship, packing, and moving back home. I’m so excited that I was able to make it this far, and I’m excited for adventures to come.

I’ve written 54 posts, and I have many more that I want to publish.  For this important anniversary, I whipped up a delicious strawberry cake with cream cheese frosting.  This cake was so decadent but so delicious.  Everyone wanted a second piece and a piece to take home.

This recipe wasn’t too complicated, but the outcome was out of this world.

For the cake:

First, I prepared the pans.  Line 3 9-inch round pans with parchment paper.  I turn my pans over and trace the outline to get the right size parchment rounds.

Once done with all the tracing, cutting, and preparing.  Butter the parchment paper.

Chop up 2 cups of strawberries. You can use frozen strawberries, thawed, but I always prefer fresh.  I would recommend frozen in the winter because the strawberries are usually frozen at the peak of ripeness, instead of being shipped 3,000 miles in the middle of winter. Puree in your food processor or blender.

In a large bowl, mix together the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Add in the butter (yes, I know it is a lot, but well worth it).

Add in the strawberry puree.

Beat at medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.  The batter is so tasty, and the strawberry flavor comes out well.

In another bowl, whisk together the egg whites, milk, and red food dye.

Egg whites?  I hate to separate out the whites from the yolks and then throw away the yolks or use them in something else.  Instead, I bought a carton of egg whites. 3 Tbsp. is equal to 1 egg white.

Mix the egg whites, milk, and 3-4 drops of red food dye.  The food dye will bring out the color of the strawberries and will make the cake a nice pink color, a little surprise when you cut open the cake.

Reminds me a little of Pepto Bismol.  I’m starting to feel a little nausea, heartburn… It will look good in the cake, so carry on.

Add the pink whites to the batter in 2-3 additions, mixing well after each addition.  Once all is incorporated, don’t keep mixing.

Divide the batter between the 3 prepared pans.

Bake for 28-33 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.

While the cakes are cooling, whip up the frosting.  Cream together the butter and powdered sugar until thick and creamy.

Add in vanilla and cream cheese.Beat until smooth.

Put this in the fridge to cool while the cakes bake and cool.

Check the cakes.  A toothpick should come out clean.

The cake separates nicely from the pan making for easy removal.

Once cool, turn the first cake out on to the plate you wish to serve the cake on. This is one of the plates I recently purchased to showcase my desserts.

Peel off the parchment paper.

Top with a dollop of frosting (1/2 cup).  Spread out frosting.

Top with the next layer.  I was using the oven to make some bread, so one of my pans was lopsided leading to a lopsided level.

It’s not obvious from the picture, but it’s crooked.  I added extra icing on 1 side to even it out.

Top with the remaining layer. Coat the entire cake with the frosting.

I decorated the cake with strawberries.  Here is a trick I learned from a bakery I worked at.

Take a strawberry, and cut small slices in it.

Spread them apart like a fan.

I put this in the center of the cake.

See the man in the background getting his fork ready to dig in to the deliciousness.

ENJOY for whatever occasion you have, whether you are celebrating 1-year anniversary of your blog or your wedding anniversary or for your birthday.

I hope you will continue to follow my blog for many more years.

Recipe:Strawberry Celebration Cake

Recipe from: Smitten Kitchen

Knock You Naked Brownies

At the end of the semester, I had some ingredients that I wanted to use up.  I stumbled upon a recipe for these brownies, and these were perfect for the random ingredients I had on hand.

With a name like Knock You Naked Brownies, I was ready to find out what these brownies were all about.  These treats are dressed-up brownies (actually made with chocolate cake mix)  with caramel, chocolate, and nuts. I skipped the nuts, so anyone with nut allergies could sample these delectable treats.

I took this treat to a little crew get-together.  The 9 of us dug into the brownie pan with forks and spoons. Who needs plates and napkins?  We woofed these brownies down in 10 minutes flat.  And, boy were they deeeelicious.

Now on to the brownies.  Begin by preheating the oven to 350˚F.  In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, chopped pecans (optional), 1/3 cup evaporated milk, and the melted butter. Stir together until combined.  This mixture will be very thick.

Press half the mixture into a greased 9×9 inch baking pan. 

Bake for 8-10 minutes.

In a double boiler, melt the caramels with the additional 1/2 cup of evaporated milk.  I tried to melt these in the microwave.  FAIL!    The caramels never fully congealed with the evaporated milk.  The original recipe called for melting the caramels in the double boiler, so that is what I suggest. 

When the caramels are melted and all mixed with the evaporated milk, pour over the baked brownie base.

Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the caramel.

With the remaining brownie dough, turn out onto plastic wrap.  Use your hands to press the dough into a large square a little smaller than the pan.  Flip layer onto caramel layer.  Bake for 25-35 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool.  Put these brownies in the fridge for a few hours, so they can set up.  I know they will look so delicious and welcoming, but this is a necessary step.

Sadly, my camera was being borrowed at this time, so I wasn’t able to take pictures of these last few steps.  Have faith that you know what you are doing.  I have faith in you.

Remember how I said that 8 friends and I devoured these brownies in under 10 minutes.  Well, I didn’t get a picture of the final product, but here’s what it looked like after we had had it.

Recipe from: The Pioneer Woman

Recipe: Knock You Naked Brownies

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

As you may know from my blog title, I am a member of my college’s crew team.  I really enjoy the sport, even if it involves waking up at 4:30 AM to go to practice.  4:30 is early, but I get to be outdoors, see the stars, see the sun rise, and spend time with some awesome people.  Every weekend we have a regatta, our fancy name for a race.  One of the great aspects of these regattas is the regatta food.  What exactly is regatta food?  Well…

Our coach understands the importance of being well fed and fueled for our races, so she spares no expense.  We begin the day of the regatta with bagels (many assortments)… complete with cream cheese and peanut butter.

This week, we had the extra bonus of nutella. See how much this was liked.

For breakfast, we also get juice, yogurt (organic to be exact, so fancy), and other snacks.

We also have regatta lunch at the race site.  Usually, that considers of sandwich fixings including lunch meats, fresh cut tomatoes, every type of mustard or mayonnaise.  We also have cut veggies (peppers, carrots, snow peas) with dips, dried fruit, chips, pretzels, and cookies.  Obviously, we are fed very well.  See all those coolers filled with deliciousness.

One of the things that is sometimes lacking is homemade baked goods because in my opinion homemade is always better than store bought.  I had this great idea to make OAR COOKIES to mimic the oars we use to row.  Thankfully, our oars are pretty simple and easy to replicate: only 3 stripes.

I was so excited; I just had to find time in my hectic schedule to whip these treats up.  Thankfully, I had some help. A few of my fellow crewbies helped me out.

For the cookies, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy or beat by hand.  Look at that delicious goodness.

Add egg, beating until combined.  Add flour, cocoa, and salt, beat just until blended.

Divide dough into 2 equal portions; flatten each portion into disk. Cover these disks and chill for 10 minutes.  This will make the cookie edges more defined.  This is a necessary step.  If you need to skim some time, you can put the dough in the freezer instead for a few minutes. While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350˚.  Prepare two cookie sheets with cookie spray.

Once chilled, lay out on a lightly floured surface, and roll dough to 1/8 inch thick.

Cut into desired shapes.  For the oars, we cut rectangles with one of the short edges having a slight diagonal cut to replicate the oar shape.  You can use this recipe for anything.

Put the cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared pans.  Bake for 9-12 minutes depending on the shape and size of your cookie.  Let cool on baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to wire racks.

While the cookies are cooling, prepare the frosting.  This recipe is the same recipe I use for all decorated cookies because it dries quickly and doesn’t have raw eggs in them.

Begin by mixing egg white powder (yes, this is part of the egg that is dried but there is no risk of salmonella) with the powdered sugar.  Add in water and flavoring; continue beating on high until icing is thick and glossy.

Separate icing into smaller bowls in order to add colors or tints.  I removed a small amount of icing that I left white for the stripes. The rest I colored bright yellow.

Decorate the cookies.

See the resemblance.

This isn’t one of the better ones, but you get the idea. When I handed these out after the regatta, everyone loved them.  The chocolatey cookie was delicious and moist, while the icing added a hint of sweetness.

Be creative with your cookies, and enjoy!

Recipe Adapted From: Southern Living

Recipe: Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Granola People

If you remember,  I tried to make homemade granola recently.  It failed.  I mixed it up and was cooking the oats in the oven.  Well,  I completely forgot about them until I smelled them burning.  Sadly, they were past salvaging.  But I did not despair.  I tried my hand again at this creation with success.  I like making my own granola because:

1) It’s tastier.

2) You know what ingredients are being added.  Most granolas are actually pretty high in fat.  My granola was only good, wholesome ingredients.

This post is titled Granola People because I live in a very hippy, liberal town.  Some people truck fresh fruit around on bicycles instead of trucks.  Everyone composts.  People drink their coffee or tea in Mason jars. And many other things, not that I am complaining.  I feel like many people in this area also make their own granola, too.  I’m rambling, so let’s get on with the recipe.

Begin by preheating the oven to 350˚F and spray a baking sheet.

The recipe calls for almonds to be added to the cooked granola, but I wanted my almonds toasted.  If I had toasted them with the granola all together, they probably would have burned.  So, I toasted my almonds while I was whipping up the granola.

Toast on a baking sheet for 8-10 minutes, stirring the almonds half-way through.

Next, mix together the brown sugar, applesauce, honey, cinnamon, and salt  in a large bowl.  

Add the oats to this mixture.

Stir well, making sure the oats are coated evenly with the liquid mixture.  See that shininess: that’s the liquid coating the oats.  Spread onto prepared pan in an even layer.  Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the pan and stir up the granola.  Spread out into an even layer again.  Place the pan back in the oven for 15-25 minutes more until golden brown.  I recommend checking on your granola every 5 minutes to avoid any burning mishaps that I am an expert at doing.

Let cool.  Once cool, stir in the toasted almonds, cranberries, raisins, or whatever dried fruit your would like.  Enjoy with yogurt, fresh fruit, or with milk.

Recipe: Granola

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