Oats v Krispys: I’m a Granola Jerk

Ready2Go Granola Bars! Left-Honey Almond Right-PeanutButter Chocolate

So it wasn’t until this year till I got the nudge to attempt to make not just my own granola, but my own granola bars. I’ve never been one for a handful of granola or granola bars either really, so this is a surprise even for me that I liked making these so much. I don’t remember my parents ever really having them around the house, so maybe that’s why they’ve never interested me until recent. Or…maybe it’s because I’m a jerk. A granola jerk. I really don’t like the Nature Valley brand…they’re rock hard, and I never feel like I’ve eaten anything once I’ve snacked on one. It’s like…a snack gone wrong.  The first batch months ago was made upon request (thank goodness) and I haven’t stopped making them since. Making your own, is absolutely incomparable to anything you’ve had in the store. I’ll admit, I have tried several store brands now (ones with lower calories and fat ect) and I do have a couple of brands/flavors I like…but still, nothing beats making your own hearty granola bars. I haven’t done the exact math yet, but I do think that making your own might be just a little bit more expensive just because there are quite a few ingredients… depending on what and how much of certain ingredients you use. On the bright side…as long as you use a 9×13 you’ll at least get a larger quantity than the average box of “six” you normally pay 3 bucks for in the store.

Oats…or Krispys. Everyone’s got their favorite kind. I was team Oats, until tonight. Let me tell you why… Because Team Krispy pissed me off. Half the granola bars in the store…aren’t even granola!! They’re Rice Krispy based… it’s not even granola/oats! I don’t understand. They should be called Krispy Bars…Am I the only that feels this way?! -le sigh- let’s move on.

The original mouf that got me hooked on granola is doing me favor tomorrow, so in return I made two kinds of granola bars to hand off.  This particular mouf likes Krispies… so I decided it was time for this jerk to make a Krispy version. If you’ve ever made your own bars, there are ones that are baked, and ones that just sit and harden. I wanted to try both…so hey…double the Krispy fun right?  Also…to my fun-loving kitchen surprise…REAL homemade Krispies…use lots of granola in them too! So suck it store brands! I get the best of both worlds…which is probably why one of these versions has moved its way up to my first place granola yum spot.  My original granola recipe I actually found on a runner enthusiast blog when I first started running this year. It’s healthy, it’s hearty, and its yumlicious. I’ve stuck pretty close to it without too much variation until this evening.

Toasted Almonds

This first one claims to be chewy via the recipe title…guess what….they lied, it was pretty crunchy… it was still good, but was really healthy tasting…and there was a lot of bad stuff in it, so not sure how that ended up working out…but they’re definitely hearty and filling.

The start to any good granola recipe is the almonds. I like getting the pre-sliced ones in the organic or natural aisles…not the processed ones in bags in the baking aisles. These things will change your life, I swear. Most recipes call for a half cup…but I usually double it because they’re so good, and if you cook them right, they’ll had the more flavor to your mix than dried fruit or chocolate.

Heat the oven to about 350 and spread a single layer on a flat pan (you can go higher if you want, but you really have to watch and babysit these so they don’t burn) and then depending on the color of pan that you cook them for about 5 minutes or so, darker pans will be in for less time. You want them to start turning a golden to light brown. When you take them out to cool, it’s the most amazing and welcoming aroma, you’ll be glad you doubled the asking amount. Set these aside to cool a bit.

Honey Almond and White Chocolate

Batch Number ONE: Get out your breakfast items! In a bowl combine your oats and rice krispies along with any dried fruit or candies (I also added wheat germ as an extra healthy boost) you want to add in.(When using chocolate chips, put them in the freezer beforehand, that way when you combine in the hot ingredients they don’t just melt) In a saucepan melt down a stick of butter and a 1/2 cup of brown sugar and some honey for flavor. Mix in with the dry ingredients until well combined and then put in a 9×9 for thicker bars or a 9×13 for thinner ones. Bake for 20 minutes at 350. I put parchment paper in the pan beforehand, no stick mess this way. I usually let them cool completely (this might take a few hours-be patient) before cutting them because they’ll crumble apart less.

*These were good, but they were a little NatureValley for me. I prefer them much softer…this recipe didn’t have peanut butter in them…which seems to be the common ingredient for really soft granola bars in my kitchen so next time I’ll throw in a few dollops.

Baked Batch#1 Being Cut Into Bars

Batch Number TWO: These bars had similar ingredients. Krispies, oats, brown sugar, whatever snackies or chocolates you want. This ones uses peanut butter and honey to make it all stick together (I didn’t have anymore honey, so I substituted in light karo) This one you put the karo, brown sugar, and peanut butter in a pan until it all combines and pretty much becomes a liquid, then you dump it in with the dry ingredients. I mixed for about 30 seconds to allow it too cool a bit before adding in the frozen chocolate chips. These ones you don’t have to bake. I also put these in a 9×13 lined with parchment paper.

Even though you don’t have to bake these…I’ve found that throwing them in the oven at a low temp for 5-8 minutes allows the peanut butter to reheat and then when it cools everything sticks together better.

PeanutButter, Cran-Mango Chocolate Chip Mix

On that advice…I’ll have you know…that this recipe didn’t stick together very well at all. ha!   I should have went out and bought honey…It just goops things together better. BUT they, were freakin delicious regardless. I was just handfulling moufs of granola and the little mini-bites it left behind like the world was ending tomorrow.

Batch#2: Not So Formed Bars: But extra add in's for your trail mix or oatmeal!

*Batch two has definitely become my new favorite. I’ll just add honey next time and I’m sure that will fix the recipe and make it hold together better…or using a tighter 9×9 instead of 13×9 usually helps too…you’ll just have thicker bars.

BOTTOMLINE: These were super yummy, definitely fun to make and experiment with. The wonderful thing about making your own granola/bars…is they are completely customized to you. Peanut Butter, chocolate, nuts, almonds, fruit, candies, honey, ect…it’s all up to what you want to do. And the best thing about it is that you can’t screw it up unless you burn it! If they don’t form into bars then it’s just a great handful of snack or an extra kick to your morning oatmeal. I’ll keep batch #1 around for when I get more heavy into training (boot is off…I’m working at hitting the trails soon!) because they’re really good for you, but batch #2…will disappear before you know it- chewy, soft, and peanut butter glorious. I think I had about 5 of these devils just cleaning up the kitchen… oops, I mean yum! I’ll post the exact recipes for each when I get home today.

http://www.food.com/recipe/no-bake-rice-krispies-peanut-butter-granola-bars-lower-fat-73754 Recipe #2

Day In The County: Baked

This will be a more picture post than me blabbing. I took Friday off to have a little fun-day with my Mom back home before starting my new job in a week. I’ll have to start getting up a 6am (shoot me now) rather than 8am like I do now.

Usually my mom will come into town and we’ll spend the afternoon at lunch and then hitting the mall…but it was a long week for both of us…so I decided to spend the date out there for a change.  Armed with a few utensils and quick trip to the store, I hoped in the Beemer for a trek trip out ……there. I don’t know what to call where I grew up… it’s not a farm, and it’s not a ranch…but it’s more of a ranch than a farm… bah. Regardless of what you call it….it’s gorgeous. I love living in the city after being in the country for so many years, but it’s such a breath of fresh air to be out there. We farm some of it, and the rest of it is natural landscape for the most part. It’s just relaxing to be out there, sitting by the water, hearing the wind blow across the trees. It’s just great.

Chocolate Banana Bread Batter

Chocolate Banana Bread

I think the only thing I didn’t have time to tackle was the 8inch 3 layer buttercream cake I wanted to make…but that’s ok.

This is the chocolate banana bread. This batter was absolutely amazing. After making several banana breads where recipes call for creaming the butter and sugar together….I recommend creaming the egg, butter, and sugar together all at the same time. It gives you much more of a fluffy and airy batter and the sugar blends better for some reason. It called for expresso power…but I didn’t have any on hand so I added one more tablespoon of cocoa powder. This particular recipe also called for a cup of chocolate chips…But I decided to do something a little different. I put in a really thin  layer of the batter on the bottom of the pan, then a layer of chocolate chips as pictured. What I was hoping that would happen ….that didn’t….  was that the top of the banana bread would be a layer of chocolate chips…but they either sank… or I put too much batter along the bottom.  The reason I didn’t put the chocolate chips on the bottom originally was because I thought maybe the chip would burn, or overcook sitting on top. Oh well, I’ll have to experiment next time the other way.

Devil Cakes Filled with Cream

Marshmellow Fluff

Filled Cupcakes

Left: Cream Filled Right: Cherry Center

Hostess Mimic'd

Cherry Filled: From the Bottom

So I’ve read time and time again that the best chocolate cupcakes are made from devils food cake…so I decided to try it out. There are several devils cake recipes of course, but I recommend using the ones that actually melt down chocolate…not the powder, and that also use buttermilk. For me, these ones seem to be the most moist. They really just fall apart. Love em.  To the right is the marshmellow fluff. I’ve avoided ever using this because it’s SO bad for you, but I really wanted to try filled cupcakes…and this seemed to be the best and most popular way to achieve this goal. The fluff comes in a jar, and is about as hard as concrete…event though it’s fluffy, kind of cool really. Mix with some hot water, salt, butter, and powdered sugar…and this concrete marshfluff turns into vanilla ice cream taste.  The outside white frosting is classic butter cream with powdered sugar, vanilla, and heavy cream.

The cherry filled ones I did kind of on a whim…I was making those pocketpies for my parents and had some cherries left over and putting 2-3 cherries in middle (after the batter is already poured) actually turned out really cute. I didn’t know if I would like them…but I did, and from the feedback I received, they definitely seemed to have worked! So yay! Speaking of pocket pies…I found some bigger shapes (shoot didn’t take pics of those) at my parents that I’m ‘borrowing’ that I’m so excited to use those again. They even had a pumpkin one that I’ll have to do pumpkin pies ones! I love festive food and theme food. Makes me happy. 🙂

After I frosted the creamed filled ones, I felt like there was something missing. Most pics of these kind of cupcakes are actually covered in chocolate and then have the classic Hostess white loops on the top…so that you know they’re cream filled. So I did it in reverse! I just put chocolate chips on top of the frosting to mimic the Hostess loops. Super fun…

So this was my day back at home…if we wouldn’t have sat down in the TV room and kicked back a few shows with Mom that she’s been geeking out about, that cake would have gotten done too…but hey, oh well. And thanks also a big thanks to my mom for letting  me use her awesome camera for these obviously better quality pics. And point deduction for saying in the beginning I wasn’t going to be writing much. ha!

Bottomline: Loved this stuff!! They were super fun to make, and they didn’t even take very long.  Another set of great recipes to add to the box!

 

PiePops/Pocket Pies: Suck It, Bakerella

So everyone at this point has heard of cakepops right? They’re super cool, and really fun, but there is a dramatic downside,…they’re freakin’ disgusting. The proportion of sugar/frosting/mess to cake is about 95:5.  So if you love candy coating or a mouf full of wax, cakepops are for you. Cakepops have been made famous by Bakerella http://www.bakerella.com/ . Brilliant and creative lady…and fantastic execution, I’ll save my bites for desserts that actually taste good.

After attempting cakepops this year and then throwing them to the wayside because they blow, a friend linked me to a website of PiePops. Are you kidding me? YES PLEASE. I’m pie sensitive. Picky about flavors, and have to have the right filling to crust ratio.  Well needless to say, I tried these suckers this week. Easy, fun, and really hard to screw up. My only concern going into this kitchen episode, was the reviews on these little piedevils. They’re fun to make and look at (like cakepops), but apparently don’t hit the ‘favorites list’ to people who don’t like pie crust. But hey… anything is worth a try right?

For a small batch, 1 1/4 flour, 1 stick of unsalted cold butter, 4+ tbsp cold water. Cut together butter and flour, then add the water to help form it’s shape. Once combined form into a flattened thick disk, wrap in plastic, then toss it into the fridge for 20 min to 24 hours.

*NOTE: this is taking forever to write just so you know, I have a cat the size of baby hippo napping, snoring, and laying half on the keyboard Why don’t I move her…because I’m a sucker.*

If you don’t make your own filling (there will have to be another post dedicated to this topic) and use the cans, get a small can if they have any available. You dont’ use much. Once the dough has set…roll it out and cut out shapes of your choice.  You need to leave a significant amount of space along the edges so that you can seal it…or you’ll have spillage everywhere. I’d just use my pics or http://www.bakerella.com/easy-as-pie/ as a guide.  I did lots ….and lots of testing with these suckers. To save you time (your welcome) I found that taking the sticks and doting them is the ‘prettiest’ but it leaks more than using a fork.  Using a fork and making traditional pie marks worked best for me with minimal spoo-age.

I put parchment paper down first ….I think your “whatever you’re cooking” works better, because the color of the pan has less effect. I have several pans and depending on how dark it is…they have all have very different cook times. If I don’t use paper I often forget and burn a portion batch of whatever I’m making.

ORDER! Roll out pie crust, cut your shapes, place on parchment paper (on baking sheet), lay a stick in the middle of the bottom circle, filling, top circle, pinch edges, gloss both sides, bake!!tic cooking times that work….and I always forget which means there is always a portion that gets burned. *I heart ParchmentPaper*. Some recipes say 375, some say 400, and some say 425 also with various cook times of 15-20 minutes.  I think after a few rounds the best for my oven was 400 for about 18-20 minutes. d doing a tradition press along the edges. I actually think when you do the traditional fork marks, I think it’s easier to tell that they’re pies.

There are two main ways to gloss them to get a more browned pie look: some say egg whites or butter. I think butter turned golden brown better…and also if you sprinkle sugar on them…definitely adds another fun aspect and really rounds out the flavor profile.

So Round 1…success. BUT the big downfall was the reviews were definitely correct. It tasted like a mouthful of piecrust and a just a tinge of filling. It definitely wasn’t my style…and it didn’t seem as much like a pie  because you could hardly taste the filling.

ROUND 2: WINNING!! My goal day 2 was to fix the ratio of crust to filling. I didn’t use the sticks the second time around just because I didn’t want to waste them for a taste test. I’ll put the stick on when I sell them or bring them for events. But….the pocket pies are also fun to just pop in your mouth as well. Here is how to make these BETTER than Bakerella: her problem was  how she filled them. If you’re using the canned filling, as hard as it is… you need to ditch all the goo. All of it…get rid of it. Sorry…needs to happen. (stop glaring at me…just throw it away, think of it as cutting calories).
Bottomline- you gotta try these. So fun, so easy, and absolutely delicious. Want even better news…. each pop has less than 50 calories. Also, how much easier are these to take with you than a whole pie!!? Another keeper recipe for my stash. The way to make these work (for the cherry pie version) is to only use the cherries. Funny because a few of the ladies that have piepop websites recommend not to use the whole cherries or fruit because they don’t fit. Wrong. For my circles (the flowers didn’t seal as well…I’ll stick to circles or get a bigger flower cutout) I used one or two whole cherries…or if you get freaked out cut them in half. But remember….ditch the goo, that’s the stuff that spills out the sides, and the cherries are what makes the pie anyways!

Tip: I added cinnamon, cloves, and a sprinkle of sugar to the cherries.

Vegetarians Are Silly: I <3 Proteins.

THANK GOODNESS> I feel like my food block has been lifted. When I got a stress fracture on my tibia almost a month and a half ago now, I figured so much spare time off my feet and out of the gym would have been optimal for me to put my cooking pants on ALL the time. Wrong. For some reason I’ve had a creativity and recipe block. Nothing seemed to truly excite me. After a nice long, cool, and no-plans weekend spent hanging out the couch with my kitties, somehow it must have loosened my kitchen-block. I spent hours…I mean, hours this morning sorting thru recipes, pictures, and salivating with jealously over what so many other bloggers and chefs have created. I feel my creative juices have been revived and the need to endlessly make everything I can think of has returned! Now…if only I had that new camera! -le sigh-

If you’re any kind of a foodie…check out this girl, she’s  freshman in college and has amazing skill. I wish I had even a fraction of her ability. http://17andbaking.com/ But… I love learning more as I go too, even if it’s from those younger than myself! 🙂 She makes me wish I would have started exploring food at a younger age. Oh well…better late than never right? This Friday was my first :real: trip back to the store in ages. I’ve been working on clearing out my cabinets of food that I’ve been hoarding, trying to get rid of some of the old stuff in the back of my pantry/s (ya I have two)….avoiding expensive store trips. I feel like I’m always trying to save money…and it never seems to work. I’ve been applying for new jobs for months and finally to my avail got an offer that I accepted this week. I start in 2 weeks, so one month from now I’ll have a legitimate real paycheck with an extra digit behind it! The thought of having all of my debt paid off by this time next year is absolutely exhilarating…so I rewarded myself with a full cart grocery shopping experience. New bags of flour, sugar, pasta, mushrooms, peppers, various proteins, cream, ect- oh my!

I usually go to SuperSaver for my meats, but HyVee has fantastic sales once in a while. They had several beautiful fresh chicken arrangements ready and waiting for me to cook with! The cheaper ones have all the fat and excess crap on them…but I always buy those ones because they’re normally half the price of the ones that are already trimmed. Once getting them home and trimmed up I like to sear them to lock in flavor and then add chicken stock and just simmer them for 2-3 hours. This just makes the meat absolutely tender and everything just falls off the bone.  I can’t remember where I read the tip from but it said to use small amount of oil AND butter, it makes for a really nice and even brown sear. So… that’s been my method of choice recently instead of using oil or butter.

I seasoned them simply with sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and crushed red pepper. Just about a minute and half or so on each side till its crisp and brown. Then I made up some chicken broth and added about a cup…maybe cup and a half in along with about half cup of cooking Marsala, parsley, and ground mustard. Covered it up and let those juices just soak right in for about 2 hours until the meat is no longer pink. This time around I wanted to try something a little different so about 30 minutes away from being done (little pink left in the middle) I popped the chicken in the oven and let it finish off in there.

I threw in some farfalle along with about a half-cup of water into the stock/Marsala pan. It took about double the time to cook the pasta for whatever reason…but believe me…it was soooooo worth the wait. All those flavors soaked up in the pasta and really didn’t need any kind of sauce at all. Then I took some of those drippings now and added them to another pan with a smide of butter and some half/half, and a skosh of white wine. Let it warm up, reduce a bit, and then added a handful of Italian Blend cheese (my fav… definitely the best combo of cheese that melts amazingly in one bag!) I also added some flour to thicken it up as well. Finally all done, dinner is served!

This dish was super delicious. Great chicken, super pasta, and definitely one of the better sauces I’ve made in some time. The perfect bite was a little of the chicken, sauce, and pasta…and it was the perfect savory goodness on a fork. This one is definitely going down into the books as a ‘have to make again’.  Not only was this good, but it was fun to put together… a great dinner on the fly with just me and my kitchen gear.  I think the presentation of ‘farmhouse style’ (served on the bone…meat not trimmed off) reminds me of several Chef Ramsey’s shows like the “F Word” for instance. He visits many farm communities and it’s all about the food done right and a raw presentation. Food on the bone…soaked and cooked in great flavors adding extra umph to a dish. Yes, please.

Olive Garden: Dirty Jokes, Boot, and Tupac

Labor Day weekend, yours truly was extra gimpy, and very car-less. My parents always take the “no car” (it was in the body shop) opportunity to be able to pick me up and do stuff….but then take me home at their free will. I’m 25, pushing 26…and they still want to have ‘sleepovers’ eek. Love em, but hey… I got a pillow and devil monkeys at home to attend to 🙂

This day ended up nothing less than AWESOME. Because of my one-leggedness at the moment, getting around is full of extreme effort…and don’t even get me started on trying to get this thing (boot) to match an ‘outfit’. I’m going to have a “Office Space” printer-bat-crushing Tupac moment with it when I’m ok’d to get out of it and hit some pavement again.  Maybe I’ll revise the scene… keep the Tupac, but add lighter fluid and blowtorch to replace the bat. I don’t need to pull a muscle beating this thing to a pulp, how ironic would that be, ha! Anways, point being, Dad wanted to help me scout out some wedges (how cute is that right?) to make it easier for me to get around. There is a significant height difference because the boot is several inches tall.  After the purchase of an excess number of shoes (hugs m&d) we were  mind-numbingly starving. It was 3:30pm and we hadn’t had lunch, and what happened to be right next door? OLIVE GARDEN.

I love Olive Garden, it’s a huge franchise… but I love it. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything there I didn’t like (oops, forgot to knock on wood). Not to mention we walked in and it was the starter weekend of the never-ending pasta bowl. Winning anyone? After m&d spent 20 minutes analyzing the options and me answering many ‘what’s this noodle look like’ questions, (bless their hearts) our ever so and overly attentive waiter finally was able to take our order. Have you seen the new FedEx commercial? The one that talks to the coffee guy that needs to be switchin’ it up to decaf. That’s this kid. He was intense. We all ended up getting the NeverEnding-Pastabowl(NPB) : Watching Dad order was like a kid watching cartoons on a Saturday morning. Amazingly entertaining. I am more familiar with this concept that Olive Garden does once a year with the NPB…he on the other hand, was not, which made it funny. What I forgot to explain to him was that what makes this special fun…is that you can get as many bowls as you want with any variety of noodles, sauce, and proteins. He went all out and got two different sauces mixed in, two proteins, and linguine. Claimed he only needed one bowl, and then busted out the phrase “it all goes to the same place right”. Pretty funny. Mom got spaghetti and Roasted Mushroom Parmesan with Sundried Tomatoes, and added chicken. I scolded her for getting spaghetti…so boring.

I, after throwing a mini-fit about them not having farfalle (bowtie) anymore (what Italian place doesn’t have bowtie?) resorted to penne and the Roasted Mushroom while adding Italian sausage for my protein.  Well..here is where I should have knocked on wood. As I was bragging to my parents about how even though Olive Garden is a huge chain it’s still awesome. Big chains usually suck. They’re product lacks in flavor, creativity and fresh product. My previous Red Lobster post is a great example of this.

Soup/Salad’s come out….always perfect. Then our food does. Dad’s looked like a pasta-saucy-meaty mess (ha!) and Mom’s looks quite blah, and mine….well let’s just say I *gasped*. Penne=check, Sauce/Sundried Tomatoes:check, Italian Sausage= OMG WHAT HAPPENED. I was expecting diagonally sliced seared pieces of sausage. WRONG. On top of the appetizing pasta/sauce they just threw on two giant sausage links…whole….right on top. It just looked wrong. I looked at my bowl, then at m&d, looked at my bowl, then m&d. Here come the too much sausage jokes…  “I have too much sausage, I have two too much sausage” (I’ll let you use your imagination for the rest of the commentary we had. My parents have a fantastic sense of humor). It just looked totally ridiculous, not to mention non-appetizing.  I could have filled up just eating one of the sausages alone… so I strategically placed them on my breadstick plate, sliced/diced them appropriately and then placed a more proportional amount to my dish. Ahhh, much better.

So now we have a  sausage situation and dirty jokes aflame: but it’s time to refocus on the food. I’m glad we were there at a time it wasn’t real busy, because whenever they have the NPB they seem to overcook the pasta, making it soggy and it just kind of falls apart and desinigrates. It’s weird how something as simple as perfectly good pasta can make your dish that much better. The Roasted Mushroom Parmesan was good,  but far too garlicy for my taste… and I have a pretty high garlic tolerance.The sun-dried tomatoes were a perfect topping, not to mention pretty and made the plates pop.

Even though we were all disgustingly full…Mom and Dad both have an insanely large sweet-tooth. They noticed the dessert shooters (Dolcini’s) and couldn’t say no. I feel like I can’t properly give them a rating because food just doesn’t taste the same when you’re full. Chocolate Mousse with Dark Chocolate Cookie Crust • Strawberry & White Chocolate Cream Cake • Limoncello Mousse with Vanilla Cookie Crust. The chocolate one was my favorite 🙂 The Lemon one was a little too sugary and the strawberry one just wasn’t for me. But a few small bites at the end was fun to have too…I never order dessert at a restaurant.

All in all, the food was…OK. I was kicking myself for bragging up the place in casual conversation before our food arrived because I feel like I jinxed the whole situation. It wasn’t terrible…but mediocre at best. Definitely wishing we had ordered off of the regular menu instead of the tempting and decently priced NPB menu. But to be fair… I had tons of pasta, sauce, and of course, protein to take home. They absolutely have to be losing money if anyone who orders sausage and gets two giant links. I’m thinking it has to be a mistake. The other protein options (meatballs and chicken) are so much more proportionally divvied.  The sausage was good…but in that amount it was definitely too much of a good thing. Glad I removed it and then added in a proper amount for the plate…or I probably wouldn’t have liked my dish at all.

Oh Olive Garden…you can’t chase me away, I’ll be back, I ‘ll be back.

Snap, Snap, Snaparoo’s: Crispy Conquers

Gingersnaps: I’ve made these several times. However- I’ve learned to stop trying to make cookies in general ‘chewy’ for other people, because I seem to be the only one in my world who seems to like my teeth sinking cloudy chewy cookies… and everyone else seems to be on team crispy crunch. 🙂 That’s OK, as long as moufs are happy, I will surely keep baking them. Not to mention… if I make things that aren’t my favorite…I don’t eat them!

I’ve resorted back to my original found gingersnap recipe with only a couple modifications this time around. The real taste in the ones that I make is more from the molasses than from the ginger (there is only one tablespoon in this one, which is actually a very large amount, most recipes only call for a tsp or two. weird)- because it gives it the twangy bite that makes them so easy to keep popping in. Kind of like salt on popcorn. Can’t stop! Albeit I do wa

nt to throw my paws on a recipe with a ‘new ingredient’ I’ve never heard mixed in…I’ll save that for another post. 

The recipe I was using was pretty adamant about sifting EVERYTHING twice. So after kicking my boot around a few times I gave in and whipped out my sifter. Personally…I think it does make a different with things like fluffy cookies or cakes…but not snappy, crisp ones. I need to do a small batch taste/texture test some winter day when I’m lockedinside and have a cookie showdown.

Next: wet ingredients:  I’m absolutely terrible about thinking ahead when I’m cooking or baking. I used to be much better about this…so I don’t know where I began to slip up. But, I always forget to let frozen things thaw out…and when baking…to let ingredients like eggs and butter come to room temp. This helps with better textures and fluffiness. For a cake, it may sink in the middle or not be as fluffy if you mix cold and room temp things together.

The butter needed to be beat until creamy: usually in this circumstance when I haven’t laid any out ahead of time I mic it for a few seconds till it’s soft to the touch. For whatever reason I hit 30 sec, and walked out of the room. *face smack* Upon returning to the kitchen and a beeping microwave, I was met with nearly boiling and completely liquid butter. Fantastic…who doesn’t have another 2o minutes for this to cool properly?

20 min later….butter is cooled. Mixed in the remaining ingredients. Here is my change on the recipe: HEAPING molasses, and heaping ginger. I’ve tried adding a whole additional tsp or tbsp, and it was just too much… so I like to really heap the ginger and dribble more molasses right on top and really clean out the 1/4 cup that it calls for.

Additional flare on this recipe is cinnamon-sugar. I think this recipe tastes a schosh (get used to this word) bland without this step. Not only does it kick up the flavor, they also look prettier too with a hint of sparkle (pretties!!!). When the dough is complete , I find it best to use a tsp and spoon out the dough that way: good equal sizing.

 They’ll look small, but they spread quite a bit so don’t be fooled! Then get a bowl and throw in your desired cinnamon and sugar mixture, roll them in it and form into circles and pan em’ up! Also: when doing cookies it’s always smart to remove them from the pan to the cooling rack as soon as they’re firm enough, you don’t want them to overcook.  You want crispy, not burned!

Conclusion: These are yummy, it’s been my go-to recipe for snaps’ this year. However…as mentioned previously I’ve found a new intriguing one I can’t wait to try out for my gingersnap lovers.  This cookie experience has led me to two thoughts. 1. I don’t think there is anything I DON’T like. I would say I don’t like gingersnaps…but I think I just don’t prefer them. But, they taste good. Confused food lover. 2. I’ve really plunged myself back into baking and all kinds of other unhealthy things as of recent instead of ‘cooking’. I think part of it is that it’s summer: less heavy cooking, a weird current schedule, and baking has just taken a higher rank on the ladder. Summer is full of gatherings, BBQ’s and endless reason to sit in the backyard. Baked good are so much easier to transport than my entire kitchen. hugs.

GingerSnappies

2 Cups sifted flour

1 T ground ginger

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup dark molasses

Preheat oven to 350

1. Sift all dry ingredients together…then once more into another bowl.

2. Beat butter with mixer until creamed, then gradually add sugar.

3. Beat in egg and molasses.

4. Sift in the flour, 1/3 at a time.

5. Ball up the dough, roll in cinnamon/sugar, then place on pan 2” apart.

6. Mine baked in about 8-9 min.

Pie: Apple-Cherry for the Win.

This last Friday was the day before Nebraska’s first football game of the season. This meaning… nearly every company in Lincoln freed up their dress codes for a red assemble, and every breakroom was filled with potluck dishes celebrating the new Big 10 Kickoff Weekend!

My thoughts for Friday were mini empanadas, english muffin pizzas, or PIE. 8pm Thursday night- catching on some extra couching hoping to be rested up enough to walk the town for the game Saturday (which didn’t happen: pent up all 3-day weekend due to my tibia feeling like it would fall clean off) and then jolted up realizing my fridge was completely empty, I was tired, grumpy, and cooking something was the last thing on my to-do list. I nearly caved and purchased “premade” goods at the store….but knowing I’d never live it down at work so I chose the least time consuming option of my three. Pie. They are pretty awesome…they’re also really easy.

I can’t say I went 100% here because I didn’t make my own filling due to the time crunch. I know….what a jerk. BUT I’ll do it up right next time, not only with my own preserved fruit…but fresh fruit from my parents farm. So hopefully that will make up for my short comings the next time.

I find it ridiculous that people buy premade pie crusts. It’s a little precision and technique, but it’s super easy and it’s not any more expensive to make your own. (A lot of time making your own dough, crusts, filling can be more expensive if you’re making ___ in small quantities and it’s just cheaper to buy premade ones at the store). A top and bottom crust is 3 cups of flour, and 2 sticks of butter…and a dab of ice water. That’s it!

So after picking up pie filling from the store…not being able to choose from apple or cherry… had to get them both: not the worst thing in the world right?I headed to the kitchen to dice up butter and cut it into the flour. Kind of an interesting process really, makes me wonder who fine combined baking techniques? Why pea size. Who exactly figured that out? Awesome.                                                                                                                                                                   You’re suppose to dice butter and then cut it with a pastry cutter, work it with your hands, or kind of chop it with a whisk (they all work). Once the pieces of  butter are pea size you add ice water until it all comes together. Divide the dough into two disks, plastic wrap em’ and pop them in the fridge for at le

ast 20 minutes and up to a day.

Once the dough has had time to set and cool, just roll it out to about 1/4” thick and so that it leaves several inches over the sides of your chosen pie dish. The one I happened to be using was pretty big which is why I had two cans of filling. Lay out the dough over the pie dish and gently press it up against the sides. The last time I did a pie I ripped the crust a bit…after working with fondant all week apparently I’ve enlisted a more delicate touch.  After the crust is snug to the dish I cut off some of the extras hanging off the sides up to about an inch. Then you tuck the extra and fold it under all around the edge of the dish giving you a nice rim.                                                                                             Here is where you find out how good you are at even-rolling… I had one thinner spot on mine… which was personally irritating, but guess I ‘ll just suck it up this time and take more time doing an even 1/4” roll next time.

Filling: I also added some sugar, cornstarch and a pinch of salt to the filling until is taste right. Pies are usually sweet or tart. I don’t add much sugar (usually more sugar and cornstarch is for fresh or fr

ozen fruit to thicken up the sauce) because I’m not a sugary pie person- I’d much rather it be a little tart!

Crust in and formed, filling mixed and poured. DONE. Take out the second disk from the fridge and roll that one out…I like it to be a little thinner than the crust just so the pie isn’t 3/4 crust:  having a good proportion of crust/top to filling is a key to a non-soggy or too crusty pie! Roll out some strips and weave them across the top. (Lattice)  Some people pre-weave and just set it on top…but that requires another set of hands… so I like to place a vertical layer on, and then fold the strips back and weave them carefully not ripping the individual strips.

When you bake it (4oo degrees) it can be between 50min to 1.5 hours. You really just have to watch it…every oven is different obviously. It’s recommended that you cover the pie with tin foil if the rim of the crust is starting to brown too quickly compared to the rest of the pie to allow for more even baking.

Then…..YUM it up….cause pies are pretty much fantastic. Yay Pie…yay pie. Pie is never bad.