Sunday, June 29, 2014

Bacon Wrapped Corn {is a good idea}

What started it all...

Summer is an interesting concept in Hawaii.  At least for me, a recent transplant from the four seasons of weather in Colorado.    Maui is consistently summer-like all year round. I'm not in school, so I don't recognize summer break.  In fact, I'm jealous of those who do. 

But it is in fact, the season of summer, so I feel like I must grill.

First, I needed a grill.

And what idea, specifically, got me to go grill shopping?    A picture of bacon wrapped corn, that's what!    Now, with my grill, I can also grill chicken.   Pizza.  Banana Boats.   Burgers.   The list goes on and on.

I hit up Home Depot and got myself a small, table-top Brinkmann gas grill.  After some minor assembly with a screwdriver (which is a good thing, since my tool collection doesn't go much further), I was in business.

With bacon  corn, go with your instincts.    Take a piece of bacon.   Wrap it around an ear of corn.   Sprinkle with the seasoning of your choice...I used smoked paprika.    Wrap the ear in foil and put it on the grill.  20-25 minutes turning it over once.  

That's it.   You're done.

After doing this, I'm convinced that for my next ear of corn, I'll need two pieces of bacon.   Because bacon shrinks as it cooks.  You want all of your corn to have that "bacon hugged" feeling.   No sad ears of corn that only feel half-dressed in bacon.  

Maui in Summer
The sun sets later...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Texas Sheet Cake Cookies


I'm not sure if I've ever had a Texas sheet cake.   

But when I saw these, I knew I was on board with the poured chocolate icing.   In fact I was just looking for a vehicle to get the icing into my mouth (other than a spatula).  When I was done making cookies, I didn't let any of the "drippage" (that icing that slides off the cookie and onto the cutting board underneath) go to waste.   I ate about a half pound of strawberries by dipping it in chocolate.   

What a great way to incorporate fruit into your diet!


See?  Drippage

What You Need

For the cookies:
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup flour
12 cup chocolate chips, melted

For the icing:  
(seriously, so good....and it makes more than you need for the cookies, so you can indulge without feeling like the cookies will be naked...they won't be)

1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons milk (I used skim)
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

What You Do

Preheat the oven to 350.   
Cream the butter and sugar in a medium bowl using a hand mixer.  Add the egg and vanilla and continue mixing.   Then add the baking powder and salt.

Slowly add the flour.  It will make your dough thick.   
Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in a small bowl.   Melt 30 seconds at a time and stir after each 30 seconds.    If you over cook the chocolate, you can't go back.   So much easier to melt a little at a time and let the last few chips melt while stirring.    Add the chocolate to the cookie dough and stir until mixed.

Drop by tablespoon onto a cookie sheet covered by a silicone mat.    I put 9 cookies on a sheet.   Bake 7 minutes, then remove from the oven, cool for a minute on the cookie sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack (cooling rack is also great when it's time to ice these).    

Because I live in a tropical climate, I put the dough in the fridge between baking so that it didn't get too soft.   This can also help cookies, in general, keep their shape when baking.    

When the cookies are all on the cooling rack, it's time to make the icing.

In a small/medium sauce pan, melt the butter with the cocoa and milk.    When it's all melted, stir with a whisk.    Remove from heat and add the powdered sugar.   Whisk with enthusiasm until the icing is glossy and lump free.      

I used a tablespoon measuring spoon to ice the cookies.   That will cover most of the cookie and then you'll need to add a little extra to hit all the edges (nothing sadder than cookie that isn't completely iced).     Put a silicone mat, wax paper or a cutting board underneath the cooling rack to contain the chocolate and keep it (a little) cleaner.    You can clean up that chocolate with your hands, a spatula, fruit, or pretzels.     If you have any extra, it would make a tasty ice cream topping.   

Recipe Source:
I found this recipe over on a blog that I follow on the regular called Cookies and Cups.  You should definitely check it out!

This time from Ireland

Glendalough was a monastic settlement founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century.    This was such a beautiful site to visit and amazing to see buildings that have survived for so long and to learn about this time in Ireland's history.   I would definitely recommend it!

St.  Kevin's Church

Monday, June 16, 2014

Thin Mint Popcorn




I'm going to blame it on the Buzzfeed.   Last week they published a list of "Crazy-Awesome Popcorn".   Knowing how I feel about crazy-awesome food, friends made sure that the article was shared with me...possibly in the hopes that I would make something.    And so I did.    I read the recipe for Thin Mint Popcorn from What Katie's Baking because I thought I had some thin mints in the freezer.   

And so I did.   Just not enough to make the full recipe.   So I made some modifications to use the 10 thin mints I had remaining.   Until next Girl Scout Cookie season.  

What You Need

6 cups of popped popcorn
3 squares of  vanilla almond bark (to be melted)
1/2 tablespoon oil
1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract
10 thin mints, crushed (and by crushed, I mean put into a sandwich bag and broken apart by hand)

What You Do

Pop your popcorn over the stove (or in an air popper - whatever you've got).   Put the popcorn in a large bowl.   In a small microwave safe bowl, put the 3 squares of vanilla bark.   Melt in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time, stirring each time.   If you over cook it, there is no going back, so you're better starting off with small amounts of time and stirring with enthusiasm to get it smooth.    Once the bark  is melted, remove from the microwave and stir in the oil and peppermint extract.    

Drizzle over the popcorn, tossing to make sure all pieces are covered.  Then stir in all the cookie crumbs.   Once everything is combined, turn out onto wax paper - either on the counter or on a cookie sheet, and allow to cool.   Store in an airtight container.    If you live in a warm and humid climate, like I do, you're going to want to store these in the fridge.    

Fun with vacation photos...


I really loved Edinburgh, Scotland, and wished we had another day or two to explore.   Until next time, enjoy this picture of the Abbey ruins at Holyrood Palace.    

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Macadamia Nut Caramel Corn (No Bake & No Corn Syrup)


Two things prompted the making of this caramel corn.   First:  an article circulating on Buzz Feed with crazy awesome popcorn recipes for all occasions.   Second:  between leaving on vacation at the end of May and returning in June, summer has *really* started here in Maui.   It's hot.   In the morning.  In the afternoon.  In the evening.   Fortunately we still have nice breezes.   My understanding is that those trade winds go away in September and October and then it's just plain hot.     In the 7 months I've been here, I have turned on the AC in my car (and it's on at work by default), but I haven't tested out the window unit in my Ohana.   Lots of windows and ceiling fans have done the trick so far.   And what does the weather have to do with caramel corn?   I still have a sweet tooth, but turning on the oven loses even more appeal.   

I thought I was going to use my long standing caramel corn recipe.   But after going to the store once (and dropping $27.50 on exactly 6 items), I realized that I didn't have corn syrup.   And I wasn't going back to get it.   So, I started searching for "no corn  syrup" recipes online and came across a couple different options. I decided to pick the one that promoted no-bake corn and ran  with  it.    Click here to see the original recipe on From The Lilypad.     

Since this is Hawaii,  macadamia nuts can go on or in everything and caramel corn is no exception.

What You Need

10 cups popped pop corn
4 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups brown  sugar
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon  baking soda
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup  dry roasted macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped

What You Do

Put your popped popcorn in a large bowl for easy tossing with the caramel sauce.    

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter.   Then add the brown sugar and water.   Stir until combined and then heat until boiling, for about 5 minutes (technically, the soft ball stage - if it coats the back of your spoon, should be good to  go).   Remove from heat and add the vanilla and baking soda.   When you add the baking soda, the sauce will get lighter and fluffier.   Stir until the sauce is fluffy (for lack of a better word).   
   
Drizzle some of the caramel over the corn, toss/stir and then add the rest of the sauce and the nuts.   You want to do this quickly, because once the sauce cools, you won't be able to drizzle  it anywhere.   Once your popcorn is coated in caramel,  turn it out onto wax paper (on your counter or on a cookie sheet)  in a thin layer to cool.   Once cooled, break it apart and store in an airtight container or a Ziploc bag.

Just For Fun...


I went to Scotland and Ireland for vacation and just got back last week.   We went on a great day tour from Edinburgh with a tour company called The Hairy Coo.   Not only was the bus painted like a coo, but we went on a "coo safari" and got to feed the coos.    While wearing cow hats, no less.    I love vacation.







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