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?   

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