Thursday, December 19, 2013

Peanut Butter Cup Pretzel Bars


It's almost Christmas!
My first winter in Hawaii is feeling surreal, with the palm trees and the sea turtles and such.    I finally moved into my apartment and it's chaos almost everywhere.    The living/dining room is a obstacle course of boxes.      I'm pretty sure I have more stuff than storage for it.   
Since I'm seeing my family via Skype, I'll just move to the patio and aim the camera towards the hibiscus or the palm trees and they'll never know.     If you're looking for one last easy treat that comes together quickly and can be done with the help of elves/children with small hands, this is it.
What You Need
1 roll of sugar cookie dough from the grocery store
1 cup of pretzels
1 11oz bag of Reese's Miniatures, unwrapped and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup of chocolate chips
1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
What You Do
Preheat the oven to 350.     Line an 8x8 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.
Press 3/4 of the roll of cookie dough to the bottom of the pan.      Top with the pretzels, broken by hand.      Top with the peanut butter cups and chocolate chips.     Drizzle with caramel sauce.     Break up the remain cookie dough and drop by small pieces on top - it won't cover the whole pan.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden on top.     Cool for 1-2 hours or put in the fridge.    Lift the bars up by the foil and cut into small pieces.
Perfect for gifting.    Or eating with your coffee or hot chocolate.
Are you ready for Christmas or is it sneaking up on you?   


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Test Driving my Aloha Kitchen: Peppermint Bars

As you know, this long stint in the hotel has been wearing on me.    It's not the swimming pool, the free Wi-Fi or being right on the beach.    It's the lack of a kitchen.  
In the middle of November I was invited to a cookie exchange.   Awesome.  Meeting new people and sharing holiday treats.   It never (ever) occurred to me that my stuff wouldn't be here in time.   I had a kitchen.   It even has a "limited ocean view"....I can see it between the roof of the neighbor's house and trees.    
What it doesn't have?  Pans.  Spoons.   Spatulas.
So I had to rethink what I was going to make for the cookie exchange.  
My new criteria?  What used the fewest number of ingredients and required the least amount of kitchen implements.  
But I do have friends that loan me things.   Essential  things.
Like a corkscrew.
YAY for Friends
If I made bars, I could buy disposable pans.    If I doubled the recipe, there would be no leftover ingredients.    I didn't need a mixer.   So I scouted my favorite food blogs and decided upon this recipe for Peppermint Gooey Bars by Crazy for Crust
But there were a couple of logistical details.    The original recipe made 1 9x9 pan.   I needed to take more to the exchange.    And the local Safeway didn't have the Andes peppermint crunch chips.   But they did have Christmas mint M&Ms.   And devil's food cake mix was on sale.
So, I improvised.  
Three disposable 8x8 pans.  I doubled the cake mix, butter and egg.   1 cup of M&Ms.  1 cup of chocolate chips.   1 can of sweetened condensed milk evenly divided over the three pans (no leftovers - can't do it).  
Check out the original recipe linked above to appreciate the full scope of awesome.    These were delicious, but my version wasn't a real exact recipe.
Three pans ready to be covered in sweetened condensed milk and more dough
So gooey, hot and delicious right out of the oven

A photo on my lanai.   Because I live in Hawaii and we have lanais.

Have you done any crazy kitchen improve recently?

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Story of Spam: My First Musubi

For those who don't know, SPAM is a thing here in Hawaii.

And I had not partaken in the thing.

I found these SPAM flavored mac nuts at the store and knew that my sister would love them.   She who seeks out the crazy flavors of Pringles and Oreos, will do a happy dance when these come in the mail.

So I got one for her and one for me.    For me to share.
I brought them to work and shared them with three local co-workers.   They were good sports.   They each tried one.  And their consensus?   SPAM belongs on rice.   SPAM belongs on eggs.   SPAM belongs on cabbage.   It does not belong on mac nuts.

And that these nuts had been my only exposure to SPAM?

An injustice that was not going to continue.     
I was promised a musubi.    

What's musubi you ask?
Musubi is a traditional Hawaiian snack involving SPAM.    Not just involving.   Featuring.  Celebrating.  
I don't know if there can be a musubi with SPAM.   

Hello musubi!
What is musubi?    Look at this picture and guess the three main ingredients.

1.  Grilled SPAM
2.  Rice
3.  Nori (dried seaweed)

What do you think?   Have you tried musubi?   Would you try it?

As for me....I will definitely have it again.   Who knows what my next Story of Spam will be?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Maui Grown Coffee (part 1)

True or False:   Most things in Hawaii are imported?

Here I am living on a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.    How do most things get to Hawaii (myself included)?  Imports.  From the frozen pizza you pick up at the grocery store to the gasoline for your car.   It is all flown or shipped in.

For my first gift boxes (flat rate USPS's the only way to go), I wanted to send some Hawaii made treats back to my family.    And I can't just count on chocolate covered mac nuts.   There's only so many that a person can eat. and coffee.   I like coffee.

And that's new in the past 8 years.   I made it all the way through college and a few years beyond not drinking coffee.    And then it happened.

I think it came with switching from an "on my feet" job to an office job.    I went to more meetings and trainings.   And we drank coffee.  

Coffee is social.
You drink it with people.

I like that.

I remember visiting my Grandma for Christmas one year and we all went out for breakfast.  


I ordered coffee.

There was shock around the table.    Grandma didn't think she'd ever seen me drink coffee in all the years she'd known me.   (aka - all the years of my life)

And I've been ordering coffee ever since.  

Coffee is also a favorite gift from Hawaii, though most people think of Kona coffee, which comes from the Big Island.     I decided to go local and visit Maui Grown Coffee here in Lahaina.

I walked in and said that I had recently moved here, liked coffee and wanted something local to send home as a gift.    I enjoyed a complimentary coffee sampling, selected some gifts for the fam, and sat down on the front porch with my iced mocha.

And then it happened.
A big first in my short time living in Hawaii.

It was my first time receiving a Kama'aina discount.

(Fun Hawaii Fact:  What is kama'aina, you ask?   Per wikipedia, it means long term resident in Hawaiian.  A common use is the kama'aina discount which is given by various business to local customers.  As my friends at work told me - you can't ask for it if you can't pronounce it.  You often need a Hawaii ID or business card as proof.)

Why is this post labeled Maui Grown Coffee (part 1)?   Because I can go and take a self-guided tour through the coffee plantation here on the west side of the island.    And that, my friends, will be part 2!

Have you tried a locally produced product where you live recently?   

Friday, November 29, 2013

My Aloha Kitchen Countdown

After living in a hotel for almost 4 weeks, the end is in sight!

I get the keys to my little ohana on Monday.     So I will, in fact, have a kitchen.

I must still wait.

My household goods are on a ship somewhere between California and here.   They are scheduled to arrive in port on Tuesday.    And then the port people have to do whatever it is they do.   Stamp things.  Process things.   Whatever.

And then the moving company has to pull my stuff out of the container, put it in a truck and deliver it to me.

I'm not sure when that will be, but it should be next week.   PLEASE.

The grocery store is full of things for holiday baking.    All the food blogs I follow are posting awesome, festive treats (I've been sharing some of them on Facebook)    I want to get in on the fun!

In the meantime.....have you made anything delicious recently?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Traveler Without a Kitchen

Aloha from Paradise!

I've been in Maui for a little over two weeks now.   I'm living in the hotel while I look for a permanent place to rent.   The housing situation in Maui is a little crazy - especially on the west side of the island where I work.    It's certainly not like a major metro area where you can throw a rock and hit another apartment complex.  
Here you throw a rock and hit....the ocean.
But there are some trade-offs.   Like this kind of view:

Postcard worthy sunset last Friday!
When I'm on a traditional vacation, I don't mind staying in a hotel and being kitchen-less.  But I'm not on vacation.   I feel in a weird state of working-vacation-ness.    I go to work and take the elevator home.   Go to the gym.   Swim in the pool.   Eat in the hotel restaurants.   And sometimes I watch Duck Dynasty.  Because there's cable.  And if I'm here much longer, the Lifetime and ABC Family Christmas movies will be on every night. 
I will get sucked in.
And I digress.
I miss having my own place. 
Specifically my own kitchen. 
But I'm not wasting away.   
In fact - eating out all the time is hard on the waistline. 

A few paradise eats....

There is a PIE shop on the side of the road.
Leoda's to be exact.    Chocolate Macadamia?  Oh yes.
And ahi poke  
And beautiful, beautiful sushi
Not pictured?   The granola bars I'm eating for breakfast with the hotel room coffee. 
Some things aren't worth sharing.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Caramel Apple Cupakes

It's hard to face the fact that my kitchen is gone.

Physically the kitchen is still here.  And right now the dining room table is in it so that new carpet can be put down.   But my kitchen is in transition as the movers came yesterday and packed up all the things that are going to Hawaii with me.  Including my favorite kitchen tools and baking supplies.     

With me is a loose phrase.   I will be there in less than a week.    My stuff may be there by Thanksgiving.   My bathroom is a holding area for everything that's going in my checked luggage and carry on.    Like Hunter Hayes sings, "who wants easy?  I want crazy."  

Even though I don't have a kitchen any more, I still have some of these cupcakes left.   

I'm not really cooking from scratch right now, so I was stoked to find Pillsbury Caramel Apple Cake Mix which was new to me.    It was a treat to see that Caramel Apple Milky Ways made it back into the stores for the season again this fall.

I put the two together, with a little homemade cream cheese frosting and served these at my Liquor Cabinet Liquidation and Aloha Party.     Just so you know, the moving company will not take liquor.   

So we had to drink it.

So sad.   You do what you must.  

What You Need

1 box of Pillsbury Caramel Apple Cake mix, and the ingredients on the box required to make 24 cupcakes.

1 8oz package of reduced fat cream cheese
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons caramel dipping sauce (or ice cream topping)

Caramel Apple Milky Ways

What You Do (in 3 super easy steps)

1.  Prepare the cupcakes using the instructions on the box.
2.  Prepare the frosting by beating together the cream cheese, powdered sugar and caramel dip in a small/medium size bowl. 
3.  Once the cupcakes are cool, put a light coat of frosting on top and garnish with a Milky Way.   If there is any frosting left, it makes for a great fruit dip.   

Share with friends.     Because of the cream cheese frosting, store cupcakes in the fridge.   

Do you like all the fall flavored treats that are in the store right now?   

If you're visiting for the first time, like Traveler in the Kitchen on Facebook.   I promise pictures of sunsets and palm trees when I get to Hawaii - it may be a while until I have a kitchen, but I'm guaranteed to be eating something fun.   I just read about Musubi sandwiches yesterday, maybe I'll be trying that!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Peanut Butter Snicker Corn

Oooh, fall colors!

I'm supposed to be enjoying the fall colors now, because once I get to Hawaii, the only way I'll know it's fall is because it's football season.

And since I don't really care about football, I guess that means I won't know it's fall at all.  
What in the world will happen to me when it's winter?

This weekend my sister and I hosted friends on Friday and Sunday, including my "Liquor Cabinet Liquidation and Aloha Party."   And you can't have a party without snacks.

A week or two ago, I came across this awesome recipe on Frugal Foodie Mama .    So easy to make and you can't stop popping it in your mouth.   Either commit to eating the whole bowl, or put it on the other side of the room and fill the middle of the room with hungry crocodiles.    Those are your two choices. 

Choose wisely.  

What You Need

10 cups of popped popcorn
8 oz Snicker Bars, chopped (in a 12 oz bag of Fun Size, I used about 12 bars)
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup salted peanuts

What You Do

Chop your fun-size snickers into small pieces.    It's ok if you eat a few here and there.  

If you're popping corn on the stove, like I did, use a large pot with a lid.    Drizzle a little vegetable oil in the bottom of the pan and put on medium.    Put one kernel of corn in the bottom.   When that pops, you know the oil is hot enough and you're ready to rock.    Pour the popcorn kernels into a single layer in the bottom of the pan (you don't need to cover all the area).    Continue to shake the pot periodically while the corn is popping.    Burned corn is sad corn, so when the popping slows down, put the pot on a cool burner and let it finish.      Measure out 10 cups for this recipe, pour into a large bowl and save the rest for another snack.

In a small sauce pan, combine the sugar and corn syrup and let boil for two minutes.    Remove from heat and add peanut butter and vanilla. 

Pour the peanut butter mix over the popcorn and toss to coat.   Every piece will not be covered.    Add the peanuts and Snicker pieces and toss again.    Spread popcorn out on waxed paper to cool and then break apart and store in an airtight container.    If there's any left after you try it for the first time and decide that it's much more delicious than anything you might make for dinner.   

Do you have a favorite fun popcorn recipe?                          
Share here or on Facebook!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

My Kitchen is Quiet Because....

I apologize for the lack of posts in the past few weeks.  
But, Hawaii.
I accepted a promotion and will be moving to Maui in a little over two weeks.    In rapid time I've switched from dining out and trying new recipes to frantic cleaning, downsizing and (most importantly) socializing. 
Once I'm done living in a hotel and have a little Hawaiian kitchen of my own, I'll be back in the swing of things (now with more Aloha!) but for the next month, this will be more "traveler" and less "kitchen."   And lots of gratuitous palm tree pictures. 
If you've made a similar move, I'd love to hear about it in the comments or on Facebook.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Street Kitchen Asian Bistro - Englewood, CO

Some days it's just fun to share a meal in pictures.

Please enjoy this visual tour of the amazing flavors and colors that Street Kitchen Asian Bistro has to offer.
Their menu is color coded by region:  Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, China, Malaysia and STK original.  

I leave you to enjoy the pictures in peace.....until it comes to the Okonomiyaki.    
That requires an explanation.   
And help from the manager to pronounce it.  

Cocktails (and three of the four were on happy hour!)

Shrimp Chips

Pork Summer Rolls

Crab Rangoon
(best ginger pear sauce ever!!)
Shrimp dumplings

Story Time 

I asked a friend who lives in the area if she had been to SK and she said yes.    She told me that her fiance had ordered something with fish scales on it.   And he loved it.   She had no idea what is was called.   As I'm reading the menu, I'm trying to guess what he might have ordered.    What a fun game.   

Still no clue.    So we just kept looking for dishes that were unique. 

We ordered the Okonomiyaki because it was a pancake.  
A Japanese pancake!  

There is no such thing as a bad pancake.     
Here it is in all of its pancake-y glory.   

The ingredient you need to know is katsuobonito (or katsuobushi) which is dried, fermented and smoked tuna.    As wikipedia describes it "upon being placed on hot food, the heat waves cause the thin and light katsuobushi to move about."  You could say dancing.   Or you could say that it looks like moving fish scales. Or it looks like it's waving at you.     No matter what it's doing, it won't do it long, because it is delicious!

Your okonomiyaki can't wait to say "hi"

The L-Bomb.    Favorite dish of the evening. 

Mochi ice cream

Green Tea ice cream
Thank you to Street Kitchen Asian Bistro for hosting us for dinner last week.   We enjoyed everything from start to finish.   I have a new appreciation for pancakes and I believe the L in L-Bomb stands for "love."    If you want your own STK dining experience, click here to see their menu or make a reservation.   

If you like to cook, check out the STK calendar for upcoming cooking classes (Malaysian in November and Japanese in December).   Cooking with wine?   Yes, please.  

Pumpkin Donut Holes

Last Tuesday the first Dunkin Donuts in Denver opened.  
Figuring that opening day might be a little too chaotic we patiently waited.

Until Friday.

We rolled in at 6am and there was a line.   But at least it was contained within the building.    By the time we enjoyed our famous DD coffee and a few donuts for good measure, the line was inching its way out the door.

The last time I waited in any kind of line for donuts was at Top Pot in Seattle earlier this year.
The next time that I wait in any kind of line for donuts, might be when Voodoo opens later this year.

If you want to have donuts without any kind of line (or deep fryer), you can bake them at home.    I was given a cake pop / donut hole maker as a gift and today was the day to bake my first fall flavored anything.

Have you given in to the fall flavor frenzy yet?

What You Need

1 box yellow cake mix
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
3 eggs
1 (15oz) can pumpkin puree (not pie mix)
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup milk (I used skim)

Icing Options.....I used both, just for fun

Maple Cream Cheese
4 oz cream cheese (I used reduced fat - next time I'm going all in)
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
3-4 tablespoons milk
(combine in a microwave safe bowl and stir every 30 seconds until cheese melts and frosting is smooth)

Maple Glaze
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1-2 tablespoons milk
(combine together in a bowl and stir until smooth - add additional sugar or syrup for taste and consistency)

What You Do

If you want to make regular baked donuts using a donut pan, please check out Eclectic Recipes (where I found the recipe for the donut batter and maple cream cheese icing).    To make donut holes using a cake pop maker, first read the instructions for your particular maker.    I have a "Bella" cake pop maker.

Cake pop maker in action!
Use a paper towel to lightly oil the surfaces of the maker.   Spoon in one teaspoon of batter and close the lid. Bake for 5 minutes then open.   Use a small rubber spatula to roll the hot donut holes out of their "divot" (for lack of a better word).   I found that I didn't have to re-oil again after the first time and the donut holes never stuck.   Let cool on a wire baking rack and then dip the tops into either the maple cream cheese frosting or the maple glaze.     Add sprinkles if you want.  And you know you do.

This recipe made 5-6 dozen donut holes.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

It's Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

Welcome to Traveler in the Kitchen!   Let's be friends on Facebook

Hopefully you know the Peanut Butter Jelly Time song.   If not, take a quick second and hop over to You Tube and get a quick 30 second hit (really, that's all you need).    And then it will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

When I saw this recipe pop up on Real Simple last week, I took it as a sign that I should continue postponing making anything with pumpkin.  It helped that I had all the ingredients on hand and that raspberries were 10 for $10 at the store.  However, I did bite the bullet and buy a can of pureed pumpkin. There are way too many awesome looking recipes on many of my favorite food blogs to resist forever.

In fact, TODAY IS THE DAY.  

The day for what?

The day for my first pumpkin spice latte.   At the end of August my friend Amy and I made a pact that we'd wait until the time was right and then go together.   She only works out of our office once per week and we agreed yesterday that we'd take the leap into fall flavor today.

I also want to introduce you to a different "Jelly" who helped me out this weekend.    I've been fostering dogs on the weekend through a local organization called Freedom Service Dogs.     Jelly was my house guest this weekend.    If you want a furry friend in your life, click here for more information.  {It's been years since I posted this recipe - FSD always has adorable dogs who want a career in being a beloved pet}


And now....on to the bars!

What You Need

1/2 cup raspberry jam
1/2 cup fresh raspberries, lightly mashed (I imagine that other fruit and jam combinations would also work...just pick your fave)
1/2 cup butter/margarine, room temp
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup peanut butter (I used my favorite crunchy roasted peanut with honey from King Soopers)
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup salted roasted peanuts

What You Do

Preheat the oven to 350.  Line your 8x8 baking dish with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Combine the raspberry jam and berries in a small bowl.      Combine the dry ingredients (flour, salt, powder) in another smaller bowl.

In a larger bowl cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer.    Then add the egg and vanilla.   Finally, add the peanut butter.    Gradually add the flour mixture on low until just combined.

Press half of the peanut butter batter in the bottom of the baking dish (you might need some floury fingers for this).     Add the peanuts to the rest of the batter.

Spoon the jelly mixture over the bottom crust and spread so that it covers the whole thing.
Crumble the remaining peanut butter crust over the top of the jelly.   It's ok if it doesn't cover every inch.    

Bake until golden brown 35-40 minutes.     Resist the temptation to cut right in.   Let the bars cool for 30 minutes before cutting into squares.     Store in the fridge.

Recipe Source:  Real Simple

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Snicker S'more Bars (aka S'nores)

Welcome to Traveler in the Kitchen!   Let's be friends on Facebook

Last weekend I made s'mores for the first time this summer.    There are many things to love about townhouse living (no need to own a shovel or a lawn mower, for instance), but there is no way the HOA is going to let me dig a fire pit in the front lawn.  

I visited family in Door County, Wisconsin, and there, along the Bay every house and cottage has a fire pit.   Are there better ways to unwind after a long day of relaxing than drinking wine, watching the fire, and building world-class s'mores?   Unlikely.

The wine in question
 A few years ago when I was camping with friends, we created the S'nore by using mini Snicker bars as the chocolate.     And so these are really S'nore bars....with a mix of chocolate and chopped up fun size Snickers.   {side note:  Why are the tiny ones called fun size?  In reality, the king size bars should be re-labeled...they are the ones that are truly fun!}

Ahhh s'nores
What You Need

1/2 cup butter/margarine
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 cup flour
9 graham cracker squares, crushed  (keep a 10th square to crumble on the very top)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chocolate chips
4 fun size Snicker bars, chopped
1 cup marshmallow fluff

What You Do

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line your 8x8 (or 9x9) pan with foil and lightly coat with spray.

Cream butter and sugar together.   Add the vanilla and the egg.   In a smaller bowl combine the flour, graham crumbs, and baking powder.   Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until combined.

Press 2/3 of the crust mixture in the bottom of the pan.      Now it's time to spread the marshmallow fluff on top.   This is tricky because fluff does not want to wants to stick to everything.   However, you will persevere.   I know it.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips and snicker bars on top of the fluff.    Use the remaining crust and crumble it on top of the chocolate chips.   If you want, crumble an additional graham square (bigger pieces are fine) to sprinkle on top to get even more of a s'more feel.

Bake for 25 minutes and allow to cool before cutting    It's a tough wait because it's all melty and delicious.   Don't worry how big you cut the bars because they aren't going to last more than 24 hours.   It felt very civilized having s'mores in our Sunday School bonfire required.

Sunset over Green Bay

Recipe slightly adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

Everyone loves a good bar.   Try one of these:

Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars
Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cup Bars
Toffee Cheesecake Bars
Salted Peanut Bars

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Slice - Snowmass Village, CO

First world problem:  I keep eating and can't keep up here on the blog!

No one is going to feel sorry for me.

When I was in Snowmass for Labor Day (check it out here and far) we went to lunch at Slice.    It was a beautiful day to sit out on the patio and eat avocado.   

Yes, you heard right.  Avocado.   Fried avocado with a goat cheese dipping sauce.

And then we shared a jalapeno popper pizza.      Barely had time to snap a pic because it was amazing and I had to keep eating.   Cream cheese on a pizza was pretty new to me, but will definitely be repeated in my kitchen in some way.  

Have you tried any fun pizza flavors recently? 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Baked Pulled Pork Egg Rolls

Welcome to Traveler in the Kitchen!   Let's be friends on Facebook

This blog goes heavy on the dessert, that's no lie.   But I do, in fact, eat dinner and I enjoy adding new things to my repertoire so that I don't fall back to the same couple of things (hello, soft shell turkey tacos, I'm talking to you).

Earlier this year, I discovered the blog Fit Bottomed Girls and their sister site Fit Bottomed Eats.    It's my attempt to balance all the blogs that I follow that have the words cookies, chocolate, wine and baker in them. And that's where I found this recipe to bake a healthier egg roll.   And then went on to adapt it based on the contents of my fridge.      

If I was going to pick a fried app at an Asian restaurant, I'd probably steer towards crab rangoon.    Real traditional with all the cream cheese (with a C) and krab (with a K), right?      

This recipe is a great way to use up veggies and protein in your fridge.    Rather than buying shredded carrots, I just sliced baby carrots into smaller pieces.   Now the cabbage?   That I bought as a slaw mix in the produce section.    My protein of choice for this inaugural roll of the egg was pulled pork.

What You Need

2 cups cabbage slaw
2 cups shredded / sliced carrots
1 cup pulled pork, cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons olive oil (I used chili oil) 
3 tablespoons soy sauce (Tabasco brand spicy soy is mighty tasty)
1 tablespoon corn starch dissolved in 1/4 cup water
1 package egg roll wrappers

(this filling recipe made about 12 rolls...I also wasn't scientifically measuring the exact amount of filling that went into each roll)

What You Do

Preheat oven to 400.    Line your baking sheet with a silicone baking mat. 

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.    Add the slaw, carrots and pork and stir fry for 5 minutes.   Add soy sauce, and cornstarch/water mixture.  Cook for 1-2 more minutes.    Now it's time to roll...

Place two heaping tablespoons of filling on the egg roll wrapper - closer to you, rather than in the exact middle. 

Fold the bottom towards the top.    Then fold in the right and left sides.   See?   It looks like an envelope.  
An envelope of awesome, that is.  Then roll the bottom of the "envelope" toward the top.

Place your egg rolls on the baking sheet seam side down and lightly spray with cooking spray to help the wrapper brown.     Bake for 10 minutes, then flip them over and bake for another 7-10 minutes until they have reached the ideal crispiness.   

I love sweet chili sauce, so that was my dip of choice for these crispy rolls.  

Have you tried to make something recently that's out of your normal routine?   How did it go?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Colorado Peach Crumb Bars

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 Colorado peach bars in the late summer sun
(Yes that's right.   Summer)

There is a rebellion going on here.

A rebellion against fall.     

The minute that Labor Day hit, all over the country, foodies of all shapes and sizes jumped on the fall flavor bandwagon.   The fact that it was 90+ degrees was no deterrent.    In the past week, the number of pumpkin and apple recipes on the food blogs I follow has sky rocketed.        

I was reminded by my sister, who has no interest in saying goodbye to summer,  the first day of autumn is still 10 days away and Halloween is 40 days past that.    Plenty of time in the year to think about sweaters and salted caramel.   Just not yet.  

I made a pact with a friend at work that we would go and get our first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season together when we felt the time was right and we were feeling fall-ish.    That hasn't happened yet. 

Here in Colorado, the farmer's markets are light with produce in May and June, but when August hits? Fruits and vegetables come out to play.     Palisade Peaches are the peaches to know.   There were still 5 left in the fridge. Do you know what else you can do with fresh peaches?   Soak them in Fireball Whiskey as a boozy treat.   But that's another tale for another time.  

If you still have peaches from your farmer's market, consider making these peach crumb bars.   You won't regret it.   Hold on to summer with both hands.   If it's a tug of war between you and old man winter, don't give up!

What You Need

For the crumb crust/topping:  

3 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter/margarine
1 egg

For the peachy middle:

5 peaches, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

What You Do

Preheat the oven to 375.    Line a 9x13 baking dish with foil and coat with cooking spray.

For the crumb crust whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.    Cut in the butter and then the egg.    Press half of the crumb crust in the bottom of the baking dish.   Put the pan and the remaining topping in the fridge while working on the peachy middle.

Put the diced peaches in a medium bowl.   Add lemon juice and mix gently (no sad bruised peaches at this party).   Combine the flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a smaller bowl.    Pour over the peaches and gently mix everything together.

Spoon the peach mixture over the crust.     Using your hands sprinkle the remainder of the crumb crust on top of the peaches.    Bake for 45 minutes.    Do not cut until completely cool.   

Eat your peach bars with your tan and flip flops while relishing the tail end of summer.    Don't jump into the pumpkin spice madness until you're ready.

Recipe slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Cookie Butter Chocolate Chunk Blondies

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I've often mentioned my love of Trader Joe's.   Friends send care packages of wasabi almonds and sea salt butterscotch balls across state lines.   Just this weekend six bottles of 2 Buck Chuck made an appearance.   Construction is in full force for the store opening here in Denver...though I've heard rumors that it may not open until early 2014. 

Cookie butter, whether it's Biscoff spread or TJ's Speculoos, has been front and center in a lot of recipes and food blogs this year.   Rightly so.   It has the characteristics of peanut butter, so every delicious recipe that has PB can be cookie buttered in short order.  Bam!  New recipe.  And if you have peanut allergies, cookie butter (or almond butter or cashew butter) opens the door to desserts that were previously on your "thou shalt not eat this" list.  

I have to say that these blondies have stayed soft for over a week in their airtight container.   They were road snacks for last weekends road trip to the Jazz Aspen Snowmass music festival and there are a couple of squares lingering in my kitchen.    But not for long, since they go perfectly with my morning coffee. 

What You Need

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter/margarine, melted
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup cookie butter (TJ's crunchy for me)
1 cup chocolate chunks (got mine in bulk at Sprouts)

What You Do
Preheat the oven to 350.    Line a 9x9 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray or use a silicone baking dish (my preference).      Combine the dry ingredients (flour, powder, soda and salt) into a small bowl.

Cream the butter and sugar together.  Whisk in the eggs, vanilla and cookie butter.    Fold in all the dry ingredients and then the chocolate chips/chunks.     The batter will be very thick.

Spread into the baking pan and bake for 25 minutes.     Allow bars to cool then cut.    Store in an airtight container until all gone!

Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

What about you?   Are you on the cookie butter bandwagon?
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