Sunday, July 27, 2014

S'mores Brownies

Maui has a lot of things.

But open campfires or backyard firepits?   Not so much as far as I can tell.  This summer, I've accepted the fact that if I want in on some s'mores action, I'm going to need to think outside the campfire.    Campfire s'mores are my favorite.   If given the opportunity, I will eat, at minimum, three s'mores.   And each s'more will have 2 marshmallows that are toasted golden brown and then set on fire.   I set my chocolate on the graham cracker and then put it as close to the fire as I can so that the chocolate gets melty - way meltier than if I just wait to put my marshmallow on it.   

There was an entertaining article on The Kitchn this week called "How Pinterest Thinks You Should Make S'mores."   Chocolate, graham crackers and chocolate in the same room do not a s'more make.   You need that melty mess.

So here's a melty  mess for you.

What You Need

I willingly used my last box of TJ's truffle brownie mix.   
I'll have to wait until I go back to the mainland, or for  someone to send me a care package.   

1 box of brownie mix suitable for a 9x9 pan, plus the eggs/oil/butter that the box calls for
2 cups mini marshmallows
3 sheets of graham crackers (6 squares total), broken into small pieces
1  4.25oz chocolate bar, I used Hershey's symphony milk chocolate bar, chopped

What You Do

Preheat oven per your brownie mix directions (in most cases 350), pour into a 9x9 pan, and bake per instructions.  If you're using a silicone baking pan, lightly spray with cooking spray.  If you're using a metal/glass pan, I'd recommend lining in foil and then spraying  for easy cleaning.

When your brownies are done baking, remove from the oven, and sprinkle the marshmallows and graham crackers on top.   Set your oven to broil and make sure the top shelf is 5 inches or so from the top of the oven.   Carefully broil the brownies 30 seconds to 1 minute until the marshmallows puff up and turn golden brown.   You have to pay attention - it can go from golden to burned really quickly.

Remove brownies from oven and sprinkle chocolate bar pieces on top.    These are amazing served warm - allow brownies to cool 30 minutes before serving.   A plastic knife or a silicone spatula are good for cutting these sticky gooey bars.

Store in an airtight container if you aren't eating right away.   I did not refrigerate these as I wanted them to stay gooey as long as possible.    

What's your favorite way to s'more?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Easy Calzones

In college there was a burrito spot that advertised "Burritos as big as your head."   
My experience with calzones has been about the same.   
If I order a calzone at a restaurant it's the size of a frisbee - and much too heavy to fly.   

Want control over the size of your calzone?    Make your own.   It's easy.  It's delicious.  
It will always have your favorite fillings and will be right-sized for you.   

What You Need

1 pound (16 oz) ready to bake pizza crust, I love the Safeway brand that they sell in the deli, quarter it to make four individual calzones

Other calzone meat or vegetable fillings of your choice (pepperoni, sausage, spinach, etc)
Pasta sauce or pesto for your calzone topping
1 egg beaten for an egg wash

Calzone cheese filling

15 oz ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
other seasonings to taste - I'm a fan of Penzys Mural of Spices or Pasta Sprinkle

What You Do

Determine what additional fillings or toppings you'd like for your calzone.    It can be your favorite.

Cut the one pound ball of pizza dough into four equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a round.   Preheat the oven to 350 (or what your particular dough requires).

Prepare the cheese filling by combining the ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, eggs, salt, pepper and spices in a medium bowl until combined.  

To construct your calzone, put 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the cheese filling on the top third of the dough.   Top the cheese with your fillings of choice.    Fold the bottom over the top to form a half moon.   Use a fork to seal the edges and then brush the top with beaten egg.   

Bake for 12-15 minutes until the top is golden brown.   Serve with the sauce of your choice.

What's your favorite calzone filling?

Cheese filling recipe adapted from:  Pioneer Woman

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Three Ingredient Sausage Rolls

Is it just me, or do you dread that moment when you're opening a can of crescent rolls and you are waiting for it to pop?    You know it's going to happen, just not when and it ALWAYS catches me off guard.  

It reminds me of elementary school and dreading the fire drill.   I knew that it would happen (fire safety week, I'm talking to you), but I didn't know when.   And the dread kept me from paying attention.   I'd rather just know that the fire drill was happening at 2:00 pm on Tuesday.   That way I could just dread it from 1:50 until 2:01.

These sausage rolls are really easy - a great addition to a sweet breakfast, like baked french toast or bananas foster pancakes.    If you have leftovers, put them in the fridge and then eat them for lunch.   I took a few when I went hiking upcountry.

Hello Upcountry
Did you know that parts of Maui look like this?

What You Need

8 oz of cream cheese, I used reduced fat
16 oz of bulk breakfast sausage,  Jennie-o hot turkey sausage was awesome
2 tubes of crescent rolls

What You Do

Cook the breakfast sausage, drain the fat and cool.     Mix the sausage with the cream cheese.

Prepare yourself for opening the tube of crescent rolls by pre-heating  the oven per the package instructions.     I always use a cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat.

Unroll the crescent triangles.   At the base (the fat part) of the triangle, put two spoonfuls of the cream cheese and sausage mixture.   Then roll them up, fat part to skinny part.    

Line up the first 8 rolls on your baking sheet.   Bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown.   Eat them warm or cold.  Either way?  Yum.   If you have any leftover cream cheese and sausage filling after making your rolls, it is great in omelets or even on a burger.  

Do you have a favorite three ingredient recipe?

Chocolate Chunk Coconut Oatmeal Cookies


Can I tell you that I love these tropical dishes?    They were a housewarming gift when I first moved to Maui from a shop called Sand People.   

So today the weather in Maui is terribly confused.  It poured rain all night.   Then the sun came out and we had blue skies.     Then it rained again.   Then the sun shined.   It's been going on like that all day.    At this very moment (3:02 pm)?   Rain.     I'm glad that yesterday was my beach day!

What do you like to do on a rainy day off?   Today I've opted for reading and cooking.  Sometimes I even read while lying on my yoga mat so that I feel like I'm stretching at the same time (...not exactly fitness, ahem).

How a good beach day should end
This is outside of the gym at work...because I need
more fitness and fewer cookies
These cookies are chewy and full of dark chocolate.  So ono!   

What You Need

1 1/4 cup quick oats
1 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon  salt
3/4 cup melted coconut oil
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup shredded coconut
1 large bar of Hershey's special dark (4.25 oz), coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons milk (I used skim)

What You Do

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.    Line the baking sheet with a silicone baking mat.

In a large bowl combine the flour, oats, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl beat together the coconut oil and brown sugar until smooth.   Add in the egg, milk and vanilla.    Beat for 2 minutes or until smooth.

Add the dry ingredients into the oil/sugar mixture and stir until combined.   Slowly add in the coconut and chocolate chunks.   

Drop dough with cookie scoop (or spoons) onto the ungreased baking mat.   Bake 9-11 minutes until the edges begin to turn brown.   These are chewy cookies, so you don't want to overbake them.   Allow to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack.   
Depending on the size of your scoop/spoons, this recipe makes between 24-30 cookies.   I ended up with 30 - more for my co-workers and I to enjoy.   

Recipe Source:  Ambitious Kitchen 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Baked French Toast

It's so convenient when 4th of July falls on a Friday - Monday.   No matter how it plays out, if you are in a position where you get the holiday off, you luck out with a 3 day weekend.    Woe is us on the years where the 4th falls on a Wednesday.   It's great to have a day off midweek, but you have show a little restraint in your celebrations if you have to function at work the next morning.    

I work in the service industry, so the majority of my colleagues are not guaranteed the holiday off...there were many years when I celebrated Thanksgiving with a Monday off work knowing that I would be running full speed serving guests on the holiday.  

But this year?  It was time for me to host an Independence Brunch.     

I Celebrated my independence from worrying about recipes with 8 eggs and a pint of half and half.     
I didn't think twice.  
In fact, I poured pure Wisconsin maple syrup on top!

Tropical independence brunch = yay!

What You Need

For the toast:

8 eggs
2 cups half and half
1 cup milk (I used that kind of like ordering a diet soda with french fries?)
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 (16 oz) loaf of french bread - day old bread is perfect for baked french toast

For the topping:

4 tablespoons packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons cold butter

What You Do

*This recipe is ideal for prepping the night before, leaving in the fridge, and popping it in the oven the next morning.   That's how you celebrate your independence.  

Grease a 9x13 pan - with butter (of course).   

Crack eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk.   Add the half and half and whisk some more.  Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and vanilla.   Whisk a little more and set aside.

Cut the loaf of french bread into 1 inch cubes.   I sliced the loaf in half the long way and then went from there.    Put the cubed bread into a large bowl.   Whisk the egg mixture one more time and pour over the bread.   You want to toss the bread (gently, gently) to make sure all pieces are coated.

Prepare the topping by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl.   Crumble with a fork, knife or your hands.    Put it in the refrigerator, covered, and walk away.   

Pour the soaked bread mixture into the 9x13 pan.    Put it in the refrigerator, covered and walk away. 

Enjoy the rest of your evening.   

Is it time to eat yet?   Yes?

Preheat the oven to 350.    Uncover your casserole dish and sprinkle the sugar topping over your french toast.    Bake 40-50 minutes until the top is golden brown.   Allow to cool (5 minutes or as long as your patience allows), slice and serve.   

Serve with syrup, fruit, or your favorite toast topping, you independent person, you.

If you want to see what else we did on the Fourth of July, pop on over to Traveler for Good.    Just know that it involved Elvis and Presidential Hula Dolls.   

Recipe Source:  Our Best Bites

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