Monday, July 29, 2013

Simple Strawberry Smoothie

It's easy to forget that I have a blender.   Most of the time it hangs out in the pantry...out of sight and out of mind.    With summer in full swing, my blender should have a place of honor on the kitchen counter, cranking out cold drinks every day of the week.  

If you'd like to enjoy the simple pleasure of an easy fruit smoothie, open your fridge:  do you have yogurt? do you have fruit?  do you have ice?   Yes?  You are ready to go!

Do you have tropical stir sticks?  No.   Don't worry.   

I brought this flamingo (and it's cousins, including an iguana and a cockatoo) back from Playa del Carmen a few years ago.   Not a requirement, but certainly a fun accessory.   

What You Need 
1 6oz container of strawberry yogurt
6 strawberries, hulled and sliced (of course you can add more - that's what I had left :) 
a (non-scientific) handful of ice
a splash of juice, I used limeade

What You Do
Put all ingredients in the blender and blend until the ice has been crushed and your drink is smooth.

Do you have a favorite smoothie recipe?  

Friday, July 26, 2013

Easy Turtle Pancakes

Whenever I go out for breakfast I face a challenge.   Sweet or Savory?   
And it's not just that....I think to myself (Dr. Seuss style) Could I?  Would I?  In a box?  With a fox?

Which is why I tend up ordering more savory dishes, like these green chile eggs benedict.
Yum - breakfast at Syrup in Denver
When I look at sweet pancakes or stuffed french toast, I often think to myself, could I, would I, make these at home?

So here you go.    If you're wanting to fancify your pancakes without spending more time than necessary in the kitchen (when you'd rather have your feet up, cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other), these turtle pancakes are a great option.

The key ingredients of a candy turtle?  Chocolate, pecans and caramel.   

Use your favorite pancake mix and add chopped pecans, chocolate chips and bits of caramel.    I had more of the Hammond's Candy "Oops Caramel" that I chopped into little pieces.   We didn't even need to put any syrup on top them, they were great as is.    

Another tasty option would be to put the chocolate and pecans in the pancakes and drizzle caramel syrup on the pancakes.    Add a little ice cream and you would have a turtle-cake sundae.    Oooh.   Turtle-cakes.

Pancakes in action
The delicious finished product

Do you have a favorite way to "fancify" your pancakes?   

Monday, July 22, 2013

Chocolate Raspberry Bars

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Chocolate and Raspberry are a deliciously deadly combination.    When I first discovered World Market after college, I found the Lindt chocolate bars with raspberry filling.   And I never looked back.   Chocolate and Raspberry are now forever linked.  

And, as you know, anytime you add fruit to a dessert, it immediately becomes healthy.

Last week, I saw the recipe for these bars on Mom on Timeout  and didn't delay.   It was as if the recipe was calling me and said, "Jenni, you must make these....use them to bribe your co-workers or encourage participation in your training class.   Hell, just dip them in your coffee and call it a day."

I got a text from one of my friends at work that spells it out:  "My mom is obsessed with your dessert :) she told me that I HAVE to get the recipe for her."

If you want in on the Raspberry Chocolate obsession, hop on over to Mom on Timeout and get the recipe here.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Marco's Coal-Fired Pizza - Denver

This tale of delicious dinner starts and ends with one of the most lip-smacking things on earth.   Nutella.

That's right.  Nutella.   Within moments of sitting down at Marco's Coal-Fired Pizza, my eyes gravitated to the bottom of the menu where the desserts hang out.    Nutella Pizza?   We knew that was on deck before even ordering a drink.

Tearing my mind away from Nutella for a brief moment, I ordered Marco's Mule.   I've only enjoyed a  Moscow Mule a few times and only here in Colorado, always served in the traditional copper cup.   
(for those truly curious about the history of the mule, read up about the vodka craze of the 1950's here on Wikipedia)   
Ginger beer should be enjoyed more often.  

This is where the good stuff happens at Marco's....


Our party of four tried two different styles of pizza:  Pizza Napoletana and New York Pies.    The Sicilia (the rear pizza in the pic above) and the Bronx.   The Sicilian has artichokes and salami (yum!) and the Bronx has some serious meatball action.   I learned a little more about Pizza Napoletana while I was there, including the use of a special flour (making the crust awesome).   We added some Caesar salad in the mix for some leafy greens and were good to go.    

Until my friend jumped up to get an action shot guessed it, the Nutella Pizza!    It comes out of the oven in a giant puff of dough that then has to be sliced.   And slathered. With Nutella.   

The magic - piping hot dough and Nutella

Once we had polished off both pizzas we knew that it was time for a dessert pizza of our own.    The cannoli at the table across from ours looked good, but we knew what was going to happen.
Nutella Pizza...that's what happened

And once more, with enthusiasm

And that, my friends, is my most recent Denver restaurant adventure.

A special shout out of thanks to the team at Marco's at the Ballpark for hosting our lively group for definitely started our week off right!  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

I'm a big fan of the Clif Mojo favorite flavor being Peanut Butter Pretzel.   It must be the healthy protein of the PB combined with the crisp crunch of the pretzel.   Or something.   In any case, when I found this recipe in the book Bakeless Sweets by Faith Durand (courtesy of my public library), I knew it was going to happen.

Warning:  these are more like dessert and less like a healthy cereal bar.   Don't let it stop you.  

And they're bakeless which means that your kitchen won't get all hot in the middle of summer.   

What You Need
1 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
2 cups mini marshmallows
3/4 cup peanut butter (as always using the Kroger crunchy honey nut)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups think pretzel sticks - break most of them in half
4 cups Golden Crisp cereal (or other puffed wheat cereal)

If you want some chocolate drizzle:
3 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
(heat in a microwave bowl on low heat until just melted and then stir until smooth)

What You Do
Line a 13x9 baking pan with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.  

In a large saucepan (big enough for all the pretzels and cereal too), bring the corn syrup and brown sugar to a boil over medium heat.   Turn off the heat and add the marshmallows, stirring until they are half melted and then add the peanut butter stirring until well combined (aka sticky peanut buttery goodness).    Then add the vanilla and salt.   Mix in the pretzels and puffed wheat and stir to coat.   Turn the mix out into your pan.    You're going to want to press it firmly into the pan....this is a challenge to do without your fingers sticking to everything.   If you have a second silicone bake mat, lightly spray it with cooking spray and use it to to push the mix into the pan.  

Chill for 1 hour and then slice into bars.    I used a big chefs knife - if everything gets too sticky, run the knife under hot water between slicings.

To drizzle or not to drizzle....
You can chocolate drizzle it before you put it in the fridge to cool or afterwards once you cut the bars.    I opted to wait until after I cut the bars (this is probably very inefficient, just saying).    My drizzle technique is pretty basic:  a spoon of chocolate, a pretzel bar and a hope that the drizzle doesn't go flying onto the wall.

What do you think of the peanut butter pretzel combination?  


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Apple Pie Fries

I love looking at recipes and thinking "wow, this is brilliant and  easy...why didn't I come up with this?"   Pie fries are definitely something fun and easy to add to my repertoire.   I was hoping to find raspberry pie filling when I was at the store, but didn't see it, so decided to go with the all American apple for my first go round.

{Raspberry pie is by far my favorite pie in the whole wide world!}

Store-bought pie crust (1 box gives you 2 crusts - enough for one flavor of fries), an egg,  the pie filling of your choice blended until spreadable, and sprinkles.   All the sprinkles in the world.     The recipe proposed making three sets of fries:  apple, cherry and blueberry.    I just made apple pie fries (along with dipped strawberries and cookies also with all the sprinkles in the world) for my 4th and 5th of July celebrations.   

I found the recipe for Fireworks Pie Fries on Pillsbury (created by blogger Amy from Oh Bite It):  If you want to make different flavors or to make dipping icing, please hop over and read the original recipe.    

The 1 flavor apple pie fry version:
1 box Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts
1/2 cup apple pie filling (blended or food processed until most of the big apple chunks are gone - you want to spread it)
1 egg, beaten
all the sprinkles in the world (if you are celebrating America:  red, white and blue)

What You Do:

Preheat the oven to 350.  Put a silicone baking mat on your baking sheet.  

Unroll the bottom crust and put it on a large cutting board.    Spoon/spread the apple pie filling over the whole crust.   Top with the other crust.   Lightly pinch the edges together.   Paint the top of the "pie" with  the egg so that the sprinkles have something to stick to.   Take a pizza cutter and cut long strips from top to bottom, about 1 inch wide.    Cut the long ones in half.    Lay the fries on the baking mat and sprinkle away with your favorite colors.    Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

Share with friends and watch them disappear....just like the long weekend we just had.


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Instant Party: Just add chocolate and sprinkles!

I've been loving this Fourth of July holiday weekend.    For me it was a three day weekend, with a random day of work thrown in on Friday.   At least it was a shorter day.    And there is still one day left!  

On both Thursday and Friday, I went to visit friends and join in the backyard BBQ fun.   My contribution?   America: dessert style.   You can't go wrong dipping things in chocolate and then adding sprinkles for extra flair.    Obviously this holiday calls for red, white and blue.     Strawberries, cookies and pretzels are ideal candidates for "instant party."   Start to finish in under 20 minutes, run out the door and then sit in the sun and enjoy.   Probably while you are stuffing your face with burgers, deviled eggs, whiskey slush, summerbrew, salad, pepperoni rolls and ridiculous brownies stuffed with peanut butter cups.

Long live the holiday weekend!

What's your go-to dish for a summer picnic or BBQ?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Caramel Pecan Monkey Bread

It's Independence Eve Eve!   Hopefully you have Thursday off and can enjoy a little mid-week respite.   My office is closed on Thursday but open on Friday, so it will be a fun diversion to just have one day off and then go back for a (fingers crossed) leisurely Friday before the weekend.

If you're looking for an easy sweet breakfast treat to enjoy over the holiday, crock pot monkey bread may be it.    I can honestly say that I've never made monkey bread before, but it's super easy and a sweet treat.   

The original recipe from Betty Crocker was for Turtle Monkey Bread, but honestly, it was sweet enough without adding chocolate.   But who am I to stop you if you want to add it?   Or Nutella....since it's delicious on everything.  

Yes, everything.

What You Need

2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter/margarine
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 can (16.3oz) refrigerated biscuits (I used the store brand) 
3/4 cup pecan halves (some coarsely chopped just for fun)

What You Do

Spray your 4-5 quart slow cooker with cooking spray.      In a 2 cup microwavable measuring cup, mix brown sugar and butter/margarine.    Microwave on high 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until caramel mixture is boiling and smooth.

In a large resealable bag, place 1/4 cup granulated sugar.   Open the can of biscuits and cut each biscuit into 4 pieces.  Add a few pieces at a time to the bag and coat with sugar.   Place coated biscuit pieces on a plate/cutting board until all are done.

In the slow cooker, add 1/4 cup of the pecan pieces and then half of your biscuit pieces.   Pour half of the caramel mixture over the biscuits.   Add another 1/4 cup of the pecans and then the other half of the biscuits. Pour the remaining caramel over the top and then sprinkle the remaining pecans.

At the start you have no idea the caramel goodness to come!

Put the cover on and cook on high for 90 minutes - 2 hours until biscuits are no longer doughy in the middle. Turn off the cooker.   Remove the cover so no moisture/condensation  hits the biscuits.   Cover the top of the pot with paper towels and then put the cover back on.    Let stand for 10 minutes.    Run a knife along the edge of the bread and then invert on to a large plate.  

These are best enjoyed when you first pop them out of the crock pot, but if you have any left over, just heat them up real quick in the microwave before serving.  

Enjoy your holiday sugar high and have a Happy Fourth of July!

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