Friday, August 31, 2012

Cornflake Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I have a craving for dessert and there is nothing at hand, I add some chocolate chips to whatever cereal happens to be on hand.   Top with a little skim milk and you have a sweet tooth solution that isn't a calorie killer.   

Of course, baking cereal and chocolate chips into a cookie isn't a healthy guilt-free dessert.  I'm pretty sure that my trainer would give these a big "what were you thinking?" 

Fact:  I have not successfully mastered the basic chocolate chip cookie at altitude.    I've even tried special recipes.   I'm better off just eating the batter out of the bowl and calling it a day.   But once you put other things into cookie batter...oatmeal, peanut butter, etc, they bake a little better, so these pass my detailed cookie inspection process.   You know the process.  You look through the little window and the cookies look happy, not sad.   You immediately eat one, even though you know they really are hot.  

What You Need:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick butter/margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups cornflakes
3/4 cup chocolate chips

What You Do:

Preheat your oven to 375.   Put silicone liners on your cookie sheets. 

Combine your flour, cream of tartar and baking soda in a bowl.  

Beat butter/margarine and sugars together.   Add egg and vanilla and beat again.   Gradually add flour mixture until blended.   Stir in the cereal and chocolate chips.  

Drop by the spoonful onto your cookie sheet.   Bake for 10 minutes.   Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool a few minutes before moving them onto a rack to cool.  

Eat with milk.   Or as a side dish to your bowl of cereal.

Whatever works.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

24 Diner - Austin, TX

There was a LOT of food during my 48 hour visit to Austin.   Our late dinner on Saturday was at the 24 Diner in downtown Austin.   The food was delicious...sadly my eyes were bigger than my stomach.
The Roasted Banana and Brown Sugar milkshake was scrumptious.    I had never seen that flavor combination before, but to me it was like Bananas Foster in a cup!    We shared the baked ricotta, and I should have stopped there.   By the time my corn fritters arrived I was full.    My friend had the lamb burger and she was in the same boat.   Two bites in and she was done too.
However, we packed those leftovers right up and when we got back to the house we created a little picnic platter for her parents, which they enjoyed while sitting on a carpet and watching a special Ramadan "soap opera" (for lack of a better word) online.   

Austin has a great food culture.   I need to stay longer next time so that I can eat more!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Toffee Cheesecake Bars

Good manners dictate that I should bring a treat on my first day of work.   

I thought I had bag of Heath toffee bits in the cabinet, which was the whole reason I picked this recipe.   I had cinnamon chips.   I had cherry chips.   But not toffee bits.    And as I learned from previous experience, not every grocery store carries them. I already determined that my Sunday afternoon was to be spent under the laziness cloud...not store hopping.     Fortunately, I had some mini Heath bars.  Pretty sure these were from the last time I couldn't find toffee bits.    I chopped them up and used chocolate chips to make up the difference so I still had 1 1/2 cups of chocolately toffee goodness. 

What You Need

1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cups butter/margarine
1 8oz package cream cheese (I used the reduced fat)
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk (I used the fat free)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups toffee bits (or in my case, 12 mini heath bars chopped up along with chocolate chips)

What You Do

Preheat your oven to 350.   Line a 13x9 pan with foil for mess free cleanup.  No cooking spray / butter needed.

In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and cut in butter/margarine until crumbly.   Press in bottom of your 13x9 pan.   Bake 15 minutes.

Beat cream cheese until fluffy and sweetened condensed milk, eggs and vanilla.   Stir in 1 cup of your toffee/chocolate chip mix.   Pour mixture over hot crust and bake 25 minutes until set and edges just begin to brown.

Remove from oven.   Cool 8-10 minutes then sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of toffee/chocolate bits over the top.  Cool completely in the fridge.    Pull foil out of pan and slice as you see fit.   Store in the fridge.   

Hope my new co-workers enjoy these treats!

Adapted from:  Eagle Brand Classic Recipes

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Mouse's Chocolates and Coffee - Ouray, CO

I love Colorado mountain towns.   The views are great and I feel completely justified in indulging in a treat.   There must be an unwritten small mountain town rule that some kind of delicious sweet shop must exist.   Two favorites come to mind:  Grandma's Mountain Cookies in Estes Park and the Georgetown Valley Candy Company in Georgetown.   
A few weeks ago, I made my first trip to the western part of the state.   Usually I get as far as Beaver Creek during ski season and not a mile further.    It was a about time that I kept pushing onward.
Ouray is a beautiful little town in a skinny mountain valley - about 1/2 mile wide.   I can't say no to browsing chocolate shops, though I don't always buy.    But this time I couldn't resist.  My two sweet treats?  A marzipan mouse and a scrap cookie.  
The mouse is self-explanatory.   Marzipan (delicious almond paste) formed into a mouse-like shape, coated in chocolate with a tail and ears.    Based on my one time visit, the scrap cookies are the big hit at Mouse's.   They bake cookies every day using the scraps from their candy making.   Chunks of chocolate.  Caramel.  Nuts.  Dried fruit.    They are soft and full of goodness.  
I wish Mouse's wasn't a 5+ hour drive away from Denver.
Fun fact:  When I got home I logged on to Trip Advisor to write a review.   Mouse's is ranked #1 of the 22 restaurants in Ouray.  Pretty awesome for a candy and coffee shop! 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Tale of Danish Pastry

This is delicious - however, this is NOT a Kringle

In February 2011 there was a mysterious box on my front doorstep.   
Why was it there? 
Who was it from?  

Upon closer inspection the box read O & H Danish Bakery.  
I only know of one kind of Danish pastry.

Could it be?  Was someone sending me a Kringle?   

It was, in fact, a belated birthday Kringle.   Two Kringles, in fact.  Including my favorite kind: raspberry.    This cemented a long distance relationship with the O & H Danish Bakery.   I friended them on Facebook.   I tried to win their free Kringle contest.  The catalog of new Kringle flavors would appear in the mail.   I hoped a birthday Kringle would magically appear on my half  birthday too.  

Growing up in southern Wisconsin, Kringles were available in the bakery section of the grocery store.   Back in the day the Danes settled in southern Wisconsin, including Racine.    In fact, most Kringles you find now are labeled as Racine Kringle.  
What is a Kringle?    It is an oval ring of awesome pastry - usually with a filling inside and a light white frosting on top.   
This is a Kringle!   Almond Macaroon

Driving from Milwaukee to the Chicago suburbs a few weeks ago, I saw the sign.   A giant billboard advertising O&H.    I knew I would have to stop.    In fact I stopped twice.   Once on the way to Illinois for the chocolate dipped elephant ear stuffed with Bavarian cream.    Once on the way back to Wisconsin to pick up a selection of Kringles for eating and gifting.    

Oh Racine Kringle....why do you have to be 906 miles away?


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Denver Places I Need to Tour: Hammond's

How have I put this off?    A tour.   Of a candy factory.  Locally.  

I have lived in Denver for almost seven years and I feel bad that I haven't yet taken a tour of Hammond's Candies.    I love a food tour, from the Jelly Belly plant in California to Ben & Jerry's in Vermont.   

I was reminded of Hammond's in the airport a little over a week ago because there is a little kiosk of candy calling me. Including this PB&J Sandwich chocolate bar that I savored while waiting out a two hour flight delay. This, along with free Direct TV on the flight to watch the Olympics, saved the day!

Posting it here, I can hold myself accountable.    I, Jenni, the Traveler in the Kitchen, pledge to tour the Hammond's factory by the end of the year.  

What's the best factory tour you've ever taken?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies

The Olympics are on!    On Saturday, I watched more TV in one day than I probably have in the past few months combined.   Swimming.  Gymnastics.  Road Racing.  Volleyball.   The stories of triumph and overcoming the odds.   I love it all. 

What goes better with international peace and harmony than Nutella?  Nothing.   As I've traveled, Nutella is a common presence - from Nutella croissants in Mexico to Nutella crepes at the Christmas markets in Germany and Switzerland.   I'm not sure what it is about the hazelnutty awesomeness, but I love it.   

Earlier this year when I was making treats for my Bake MS Campaign, I found this recipe and offered it as an option for a friend who wanted something with peanut butter.    She chose Homemade Snickers (another good choice), so I held onto this recipe for my own enjoyment. 

I found this recipe on Pass The Sushi.   Click over and check it out!

What You Need

1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter/margarine
3/4 cup peanut butter (My fave from King Soopers:  Crunchy Roasted Peanut and Honey)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup Nutella
1 teaspoon sea salt (for sprinkling)

What You Do

Preheat your oven to 350.   Put your silicone mats on your cookie sheets. 
Combine flour, soda and salt (top 3) in a medium bowl.

In a large mixing bowl mix butter, PB, and sugars until fluffy.   Add the egg and vanilla and combine.   Slowly add in the flour mixture until just combined.    Break out your spoon or rubber scraper/spatula.   Add the Nutella and fold it in gently.   You want to see the Nutella (in all its glory), not hide it in the cookie dough.    

Chill the dough for 15 minutes - either in the bowl or in a ball in plastic wrap.  

Roll dough into small balls (quarter size) and place on baking sheet.   Press down with a fork, peanut butter cookie style, and sprinkle with sea salt.    I made smaller cookies, 12 on a sheet, and a total of 48.  

Now you're ready to celebrate with the world.

Nutella.   Do you love it or leave it?
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