Tuesday, April 15, 2014

There's No Noodle Like a Star Noodle - and No Bowl Like an Empty Bowl

Tonight, instead of a total eclipse of the heart, there is a total eclipse of the moon.       

Here is the Maui moon in partial eclipse.   Before it started to rain.  

Maui being Maui, I may hop in my car and drive a few miles away where there will possibly be no rain and more eclipse.     And so, before I get sidetracked by the moon (or lack thereof), I wanted to share with you the fun and good cause that was the Empty Bowl Project at Star Noodle on Saturday.

I haven't been to Star Noodle yet for lunch or dinner - but now I've at least been in their parking lot.    And had a bowl of colorful and savory ramen.   Not the same as the 10/$1 college special ramen.   Ramen with a poached egg.  

The Empty Bowl Project raises awareness and money for hunger in our community.   You purchase a locally handmade bowl for $25 (check out that bowl in the bottom right of the picture - that baby is mine) with the proceeds going to the Maui Food Bank.     And in return, you get a visit to the noodle bar.      I might have also had some Thai basil lemonade and a chocolate chip and sesame seed ice cream sandwich.    You know me and ice cream.  BFFs for Life.   

I've walked, biked, ran, worn ugly sweaters and more for good causes.   I'm glad to add noodles to the list. 

And now back to our scheduled total eclipse.... 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Carrot Cake Blondies

When I saw this recipe for Carrot Cake Blondies over on Crazy for Crust, I was hooked.

And I don't know why.    Carrot Cake is not my thing.   I wouldn't order it at a restaurant.   I would probably pass over it at a banquet.   If we were doing dessert speed dating, I would skip right to the next dessert.

Wait...I know why.   It has cinnamon cream cheese frosting.   And that frosting is so delicious in its own right that even if you didn't want the carrot cake, you could dip pretzels in it.   Or just eat it with a spoon.

Note:  I followed the original recipe with the following modifications.   I used 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar and 1/2 cup dark brown sugar....'cause that's what I had in the pantry.   And instead of grated carrots, I bought the pre-shredded carrots at the store and then chopped them up a little more.  

What You Need

2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon  (it will seem like a lot, but it gives the carrot cake feeling)
2 cups grated carrots (or shredded carrots, chopped a little more to make the pieces smaller)
2 cups flour

For the amazing frosting:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
4 oz cream cheese, very soft
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon

What You Do

Line a 9x13 pan with foil and coat with cooking spray for easy cleanup and removal.

Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl.   Cream the brown sugar and butter in a bowl with an electric mixer.    Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.   Mix in the dry ingredients and then stir in the carrots.

Press batter into your pan.   It will be sticky - either coat your hands with cooking spray or flour so that you don't stick to yourself.      Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, you want it to be a little wiggly in the center and that's ok.    Cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting use a hand mixer and combine the butter and cream cheese together.   Add the powdered sugar and then the vanilla and cinnamon.    Frost the bars in the pan.    I frosted the bars and then put them  in the fridge before slicing.    

These are amazing and I have to salute Dorothy at Crazy for Crust for her brilliance.

Meanwhile in Maui

Kite festival at the Wing Ho Museum on Friday during the Lahaina Town Party.   Yes, we have town parties...

So...what's your opinion on Carrot Cake?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Breakfast Cookies in Paradise

It's a fact.   You cannot go wrong with breakfast cookies.    It's a cookie.   It's breakfast.   Full of goodies that give it a little more of a nutritional kick than a standard "dessert" cookie.   Hearty.   Thick. Delicious with coffee.   Also very photogenic with my shell shaped plates and tiny hibiscus flowers that grow along the sidewalk, if I do say so myself.   

I took my go to breakfast cookie recipe and changed a few things around.   Cookie butter instead of peanut butter.   Kashi instead of Cheerios.   Dark chocolate chips....just because.

What You Need

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 medium ripe banana
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup cookie butter
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups rolled oats (quick oats are fine)
1 cup Kashi cereal (go Lean crunch, to be exact)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (Hershey's special dark)

What You Do

Preheat the oven to 350.   Line your baking sheet with a silicone baking mat.

In a large bowl, cream butter, brown sugar, the banana and the applesauce.    Add the vanilla, egg, and cookie butter and mix well.

In a smaller bowl, combine the two flours, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.     Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture.      Beat (or stir in) the rolled oats.      Stir in the cereal, coconut and chocolate chips.

Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, measure out these large cookies onto your baking sheet - usually 9 per baking sheet.      Bake 18-20 minutes.     Cool on the cookie sheet or a wire rack and store in an airtight container.   

Mmmm.....so good

Meanwhile on Maui
I went to the the Maui County Ag Fest on Saturday.    Check out the beautiful flowers!

Fun Fact:  Maui County doesn't just include the island of Maui.   It also includes Lanai and Molokai, as well as the uninhabited islands of Kahoolawe and Molokini.

Whatever you're having for breakfast this week, I hope it's delicious!   And we already made it through Monday, so only 4 more days to go.   You've got this.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Crumb Bars

It's been a busy couple of weeks.    The biggest thing being my trip back to Colorado for the closing on the sale of my house.   YES!    I am now done with the responsibility of home ownership.   Back to the free and easy life of a renter.    If there is a tear in my window screen, I just report it to the property manager and like magic, it's fixed.    I had a fantastic handyman for the entire time I owned my home.   In fact he was so fantastic that he handled all the repairs for the inspection long distance including services that he contracted out (fireplace cleaning, window repair, etc).   I wish for every homeowner to have someone like that.   It's much easier not to panic when something unexpected goes wrong, or you want to make upgrades that you can't do yourself.     

Now, back to life on a rock (had no ideal that #lifeonarock was a hashtag until I moved here). Very simple to put together and earned compliments at a going away BBQ for two co-workers who have taken a job transfer to Calgary. Friends, that is in Canada.  3,085 miles away.   In an extremely northerly direction.  It is important to celebrate moves and promotions.   And as we know, dessert is also important.    

What You Need

1 box of devils food cake mix
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup coarsely chopped dry roasted peanuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1  14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used chunky honey nut)

What You Do

Preheat oven to 350.    
Line a 9x9 baking pan with foil and cooking spray (or use a silicone pan - my favorite).

In a large bowl combine cake mix, oil and egg and stir with a spoon until it is combined and crumbly.    Stir in peanuts and chocolate chips.    Reserve 2 cups of the crumb mixture and press the rest of the bowl into the bottom of the 9x9 pan.

In a small bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter and stir with a spoon until smooth.    Pour milk and peanut butter mixture over the base crumb layer.     Spoon the reserved 2 cups of crumb mixture over the top of the milk layer.   

Bake 25-30 minutes until set.   Cool and cut into bars.

adapted from Eagle Brand Classic Recipes (a cookbook that belonged to my Grandma)

Meanwhile in Maui

The sunset the night of the going away bbq was spectacular.    
I think the island was sad to see them go and wanted to give a parting gift. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Lemon Oreo Cake Bars

Oreos have been expanding into all kinds of different and creative flavors.      When I was at "the" Walmart (since there's only one here on Maui it gets a title.....just like Costco is the Costco), I saw Lemon Oreos.    It reminded me of the Girl Scout lemon creme cookies - and those are hard to find.  

Naturally, I added them to my cart.    And then I had to have a plan.    Because eating Oreos out of the package is not a plan (at least to me....but it could be).

Know what else is a premium on Maui?   Lemon cake mix.   I found one box and it was not on sale.    But the end result were delicious lemon cake bars, so I was happy.   And so were my friends.

What You Need

1 box of lemon cake mix
1 stick butter/margarine (I used margarine), softened
1 egg
10 lemon oreos, broken by hand into pieces
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 lemon juice

What You Do

Preheat your oven to 350.   Line a 13x9 pan with foil coated with cooking spray, or spray your pan directly.     In a large mixing bowl combine the cake mix, margarine, and egg until mixed into a dough.   Add oreo pieces and incorporate into the batter.    Press the dough into the bottom of the 13x9 pan.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the can of sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice and stir until smooth.    Pour over the dough in the pan.

Bake for 23-27 minutes.    Allow to cool and then cut into bars.

Meanwhile in Maui
Last weekend, I went on the Bamboo Forest hike.  Gotta love hiking waterfalls!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Whenever there is hot sauce and ranch (or blue cheese) dressing, my response is always "buffalo it."   
Salad. Quesadillas.   Sandwiches.   Pasta. 

Sometimes buffalo chicken is all you want.  Without the messy bones or sauce.

And that's where buffalo chicken dip comes in.   Put all the ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and go to town.     And then use vegetables, pretzels, chips or even a spoon to shovel the gooey mess into your mouth.

Let's go!

What You Need

1 8oz block of cream cheese,  I used the reduced fat kind
1/2 cup ranch dressing....love the bacon ranch dressing from Safeway
1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce
1 12oz can of chunk chicken, drained, chunks broken into small pieces
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
blue cheese crumbles for garnish

What You Do

Combine chicken and buffalo sauce and heat through in a skillet until warmed through.   Break up any of the big chunks of chicken.     Stir in the cream cheese and ranch dressing.   Continue to stir until it's all cheesy and warm.   Add the shredded cheese.  Stir until melted.    Pour it into a shallow microwave safe container,sprinkle the blue cheese and warm in the microwave until the blue cheese is melted.

If you're traveling with the dip, as I did, simply put in a microwave safe dish or plasticware after adding the cheddar cheese.    Keep it in the fridge until you're ready to go, then microwave it when you get to your destination.

What's your favorite dip?    

Monday, March 3, 2014

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cookies

Aloha Friends!    I'm sorry to have been MIA on the blog for the past few weeks.   A combination of sick co-workers, climbing waterfalls, the Olympics, whales and happy hour may be to blame.    I'm also getting ready for my....wait for it....first trip back to the mainland.  

Yes.  I've acclimated enough to Hawaii that the word mainland is part of my regular vocabulary.   

I'm excited to see friends and family, go to Trader Joe's, and hit up stores like Kohl's and New York and Company that aren't on  Maui.   I'm also probably going to have to wear socks.

I've pretty much given up on socks as an article of clothing except for the gym.    

But enough about socks.   On to cookies!    
I've never purchased coconut oil before, much less baked with it.

And then, I saw this recipe for Brown Sugar Cinnamon Cookies over on Sweet Treats and More.

Hop on over to check out the recipe.   I didn't make any changes or modification this time, since the whole coconut oil thing was new to me.      Coconut oil stays solid.....until you get to an average temperature of 75 or more.   Since I'm in the tropics, just sitting in my cabinet, the oil returned to liquid.     I put it in the freezer to firm it back up, just in case it made a difference in the recipe.

And for those of you who are living places where the winter this year is never ending, like my family in Wisconsin who are enjoying record amounts of days below 0....I hope that March really gets to the lamb stage early.   That weather is crazy.

Meanwhile in Maui...
The whales are saying Hi...leave that vortex behind and come visit

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