Sunday, August 17, 2014

PB & J Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich

I proudly present my employee cafeteria dessert hack.

We are fortunate to have a cafeteria at work.   To keep things interesting, we periodically come up with new and crazy things to do with the basic ingredients we have to work with....such as the person who floated a grilled Swiss cheese sandwich in their French Onion Soup.  That person was not me, but I do it now because it's brilliant.

This week it was sandwich day in the cafeteria and we lucked out that we had an ice cream sundae bar as well.   It's very rare to have cookies AND ice cream on the same day, so the minute I saw the big bowls of peanut butter and jelly, I knew what was going to happen.    One big, bad, PB&J ice cream cookie sandwich.

What You Need

2 cookies of your choice
Peanut Butter and Jelly
1 scoop of ice cream
nuts for garnish (we actually have these every day for the salad bar - one more win!)

What You Do

Spread jelly on the bottom of one cookie and peanut butter on the other cookie.    Put the scoop of ice cream on top of the cookie with the jelly.    Press the cookie with peanut butter on top.   Garnish with peanuts if you're feeling extra creative.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Hawaiian Pineapple Margaritas

Last week I had a margarita.

The end.

Great story, wasn't it?   Actually, the margarita was after our super long hike through the crater at Haleakala National Park.   I can't even say there is a technical name for the super long hike, because it's a couple trails put together, where you park one car at the summit and take the Sliding Sands trail past Holua Cabin to the Halemau'u trail head where you park the other car.    So you need at least two cars, meaning at least 2 people.   Would you really want to hike 11.5 miles through a volcano by yourself? 

Our intrepid hiking crew

The endangered Haleakala Silversword blooming in the crater

Anyway....after our hike, we stopped for lunch in Paia at Millagros where margarita happy hour was happening on the patio.    Li hing mui margaritas weren't on happy hour, but our server graciously had the bartender rim our regular margs with li hing mui powder and then, because we couldn't get enough, she brought a shaker to the table.

What is li hing mui?   It's a salty dried plum.   I had never had it, nor heard of it, before moving to Hawaii.   In powder form, it's popular to put on shave ice, candy, and fruit.    I bought some this week for the purpose of making cocktails.    Living in Hawaii, a pineapple margarita seemed in order.

What You Need

6-8 one inch cubes of fresh pineapple
1 cup pineapple juice
1-2 shots of tequila,  I used Sauza Gold
8 large ice cubes

li hing mui powder to rim the glass
pineapple for garnish

What You Do

To rim your glass, run a slice of pineapple along the top over the glass to give the powder something to stick onto.   Turn the glass upside down into a dish of li hing mui powder.  

Combine the pineapple, juice, tequila, and ice in the blender.   Use the blend (or ice crush)  setting until smooth.   Pineapple tends to froth up, so it will look very light and airy.   

Pour the margaritas into your glasses.     
This recipe makes 2 servings, depending on the size of your glassware.

What's your favorite type of margarita?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Kickin' White Bean Dip

I like food that is well-seasoned.    It doesn't have to be hot.   It doesn't have to be spicy.   It just needs to have taste.   There is nothing sadder than a big bowl of bland.   

When you make your own food, you have complete control: nutritional content, dietary restrictions, flavor, portion size.    So why not kick it up a notch?   

I just got back from a morning sail / reef clean up project and needed a snack to get me back on track after a morning in the sun.    And this is what I wanted!

What You Need

1 (15oz) can of cannellini beans, rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce, I used low sodium
2 tablespoons hot sauce, your choice
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground garlic (from a jar - or you can use a clove of garlic)
1/2 teaspoon curry powder, I love to use Penzys hot curry powder
1/4 cup of water
1 tablespoon lime juice

Remember:  you can always add more spice - you can start off using less hot sauce and curry powder if you'd like.    And maybe?  You'll want to add more.  

You'll also need something to dip;  pita bread, crackers, vegetables are all good.

What You Do

Every time I make hummus (or a cousin of  hummus, like this dip), I'm reminded how easy and cheap it is to make my own instead of paying $3-5 for a small tub of commercially made hummus at the store.   You just need a blender or a food processor to make it.    

For this dip,  you're going to throw everything in the food processor.    Process until smooth. 

That's it.   Mere minutes after you opened the can of beans, you're sitting down with a bowl of kickin' dip.  

By the way, I'm celebrating my nine month "Maui-versary" today.   If you're interested in what life is like in Maui, check out this post over on Traveler for Good:  Answering the Question "Are you happy that you moved to Hawaii?"

Sunday, July 27, 2014

S'mores Brownies

Maui has a lot of things.

But open campfires or backyard firepits?   Not so much as far as I can tell.  This summer, I've accepted the fact that if I want in on some s'mores action, I'm going to need to think outside the campfire.    Campfire s'mores are my favorite.   If given the opportunity, I will eat, at minimum, three s'mores.   And each s'more will have 2 marshmallows that are toasted golden brown and then set on fire.   I set my chocolate on the graham cracker and then put it as close to the fire as I can so that the chocolate gets melty - way meltier than if I just wait to put my marshmallow on it.   

There was an entertaining article on The Kitchn this week called "How Pinterest Thinks You Should Make S'mores."   Chocolate, graham crackers and chocolate in the same room do not a s'more make.   You need that melty mess.

So here's a melty  mess for you.

What You Need

I willingly used my last box of TJ's truffle brownie mix.   
I'll have to wait until I go back to the mainland, or for  someone to send me a care package.   

1 box of brownie mix suitable for a 9x9 pan, plus the eggs/oil/butter that the box calls for
2 cups mini marshmallows
3 sheets of graham crackers (6 squares total), broken into small pieces
1  4.25oz chocolate bar, I used Hershey's symphony milk chocolate bar, chopped

What You Do

Preheat oven per your brownie mix directions (in most cases 350), pour into a 9x9 pan, and bake per instructions.  If you're using a silicone baking pan, lightly spray with cooking spray.  If you're using a metal/glass pan, I'd recommend lining in foil and then spraying  for easy cleaning.

When your brownies are done baking, remove from the oven, and sprinkle the marshmallows and graham crackers on top.   Set your oven to broil and make sure the top shelf is 5 inches or so from the top of the oven.   Carefully broil the brownies 30 seconds to 1 minute until the marshmallows puff up and turn golden brown.   You have to pay attention - it can go from golden to burned really quickly.

Remove brownies from oven and sprinkle chocolate bar pieces on top.    These are amazing served warm - allow brownies to cool 30 minutes before serving.   A plastic knife or a silicone spatula are good for cutting these sticky gooey bars.

Store in an airtight container if you aren't eating right away.   I did not refrigerate these as I wanted them to stay gooey as long as possible.    

What's your favorite way to s'more?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Easy Calzones

In college there was a burrito spot that advertised "Burritos as big as your head."   
My experience with calzones has been about the same.   
If I order a calzone at a restaurant it's the size of a frisbee - and much too heavy to fly.   

Want control over the size of your calzone?    Make your own.   It's easy.  It's delicious.  
It will always have your favorite fillings and will be right-sized for you.   

What You Need

1 pound (16 oz) ready to bake pizza crust, I love the Safeway brand that they sell in the deli, quarter it to make four individual calzones

Other calzone meat or vegetable fillings of your choice (pepperoni, sausage, spinach, etc)
Pasta sauce or pesto for your calzone topping
1 egg beaten for an egg wash

Calzone cheese filling

15 oz ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
other seasonings to taste - I'm a fan of Penzys Mural of Spices or Pasta Sprinkle

What You Do

Determine what additional fillings or toppings you'd like for your calzone.    It can be your favorite.

Cut the one pound ball of pizza dough into four equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a round.   Preheat the oven to 350 (or what your particular dough requires).

Prepare the cheese filling by combining the ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, eggs, salt, pepper and spices in a medium bowl until combined.  

To construct your calzone, put 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the cheese filling on the top third of the dough.   Top the cheese with your fillings of choice.    Fold the bottom over the top to form a half moon.   Use a fork to seal the edges and then brush the top with beaten egg.   

Bake for 12-15 minutes until the top is golden brown.   Serve with the sauce of your choice.

What's your favorite calzone filling?

Cheese filling recipe adapted from:  Pioneer Woman

Monday, July 21, 2014

Three Ingredient Sausage Rolls

Is it just me, or do you dread that moment when you're opening a can of crescent rolls and you are waiting for it to pop?    You know it's going to happen, just not when and it ALWAYS catches me off guard.  

It reminds me of elementary school and dreading the fire drill.   I knew that it would happen (fire safety week, I'm talking to you), but I didn't know when.   And the dread kept me from paying attention.   I'd rather just know that the fire drill was happening at 2:00 pm on Tuesday.   That way I could just dread it from 1:50 until 2:01.

These sausage rolls are really easy - a great addition to a sweet breakfast, like baked french toast or bananas foster pancakes.    If you have leftovers, put them in the fridge and then eat them for lunch.   I took a few when I went hiking upcountry.

Hello Upcountry
Did you know that parts of Maui look like this?

What You Need

8 oz of cream cheese, I used reduced fat
16 oz of bulk breakfast sausage,  Jennie-o hot turkey sausage was awesome
2 tubes of crescent rolls

What You Do

Cook the breakfast sausage, drain the fat and cool.     Mix the sausage with the cream cheese.

Prepare yourself for opening the tube of crescent rolls by pre-heating  the oven per the package instructions.     I always use a cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat.

Unroll the crescent triangles.   At the base (the fat part) of the triangle, put two spoonfuls of the cream cheese and sausage mixture.   Then roll them up, fat part to skinny part.    

Line up the first 8 rolls on your baking sheet.   Bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown.   Eat them warm or cold.  Either way?  Yum.   If you have any leftover cream cheese and sausage filling after making your rolls, it is great in omelets or even on a burger.  

Do you have a favorite three ingredient recipe?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Chocolate Chunk Coconut Oatmeal Cookies


Can I tell you that I love these tropical dishes?    They were a housewarming gift when I first moved to Maui from a shop called Sand People.   

So today the weather in Maui is terribly confused.  It poured rain all night.   Then the sun came out and we had blue skies.     Then it rained again.   Then the sun shined.   It's been going on like that all day.    At this very moment (3:02 pm)?   Rain.     I'm glad that yesterday was my beach day!

What do you like to do on a rainy day off?   Today I've opted for reading and cooking.  Sometimes I even read while lying on my yoga mat so that I feel like I'm stretching at the same time (...not exactly fitness, ahem).

How a good beach day should end
This is outside of the gym at work...because I need
more fitness and fewer cookies
These cookies are chewy and full of dark chocolate.  So ono!   

What You Need

1 1/4 cup quick oats
1 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon  salt
3/4 cup melted coconut oil
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup shredded coconut
1 large bar of Hershey's special dark (4.25 oz), coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons milk (I used skim)

What You Do

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

In a large bowl combine the flour, oats, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl beat together the coconut oil and brown sugar until smooth.   Add in the egg, milk and vanilla.    Beat for 2 minutes or until smooth.

Add the dry ingredients into the oil/sugar mixture and stir until combined.   Slowly add in the coconut and chocolate chunks.   

Drop dough with cookie scoop (or spoons) onto the ungreased baking mat.   Bake 9-11 minutes until the edges begin to turn brown.   These are chewy cookies, so you don't want to overbake them.   Allow to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack.   
Depending on the size of your scoop/spoons, this recipe makes between 24-30 cookies.   I ended up with 30 - more for my co-workers and I to enjoy.   

Recipe Source:  Ambitious Kitchen 

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