June 23, 2010

The Dollar Store Surprises

Reese's brownies

I am an equal opportunity shopper. Sure I have my favorite locations (Sprouts, Trader Joes, Fry's), but I also love grocery shopping at somewhat obscure locations. Some of these include Marshalls and duh duh duh....the dollar store. I will say that I am partial to a certain dollar store, one called 99 Cents Only. It's one of the cleanest and has the biggest variety of any chain I've visited so far. They have a huge variety of food items, which always makes me happy.

brownie mix and candy

I was visiting a few weeks ago, and picked up a snack size brownie mix. I figured the box would come in handy, and it did this weekend. Because I was going to be out of town for Father's Day, I wanted to make my dad something special for Sunday. We celebrated Saturday, but I wanted to leave him with something for the actual day. Before I left Saturday night, and while he was at a reunion, I made brownies using the mix and a Reeses candy bar. I loved the mix because it was for an 8x8 pan, perfect for a treat for my father.

I highly suggest heading to the dollar store just to look around and see what they have. Feel free to buy anything you'd like...the price is definitely right!

gooey brownies

June 21, 2010

New Product Alert

It's amazing how many new products are released each year. But then again, it seems that just as many are discontinued each year. Does anyone remember Kellogg's cinnamon bun cereal, Jell-o pudding pops or Planters Cheese Balls? Oh how I miss each and every one of those items.

And apparently I'm learning more and more every day that Wal-mart is the place to go for new or hard to find items. While I was there a few weeks ago picking up the always hard to find bag of Mini M&Ms (the big baking size bag, not the little snack capsule) I noticed these.

That's right, these are Pretzel M&Ms!  I was quite intrigued and had to buy the bag.  A somewhat large bag.  They made it through a few days unscathed, but then my curiosity got the best of me and I had to dig in.  I can honestly say that these are just about everything you could hope for.  After deciding they would be a nice treat for any blondie recipe, I whipped up some blondie bars that included creating a pretzel flour of sorts.  I failed to take any photos since they were consumed rather quickly, but I highly suggest making a batch of your own.

I've noticed that these are becoming more readily available, so if you are one who tries to avoid Wal-Mart at all cost, you can probably try your local grocery store.  No matter where you find them, please try them.  They are that perfect mix of sweet and salty!       

June 18, 2010

All Dads Love Pizza

Being that it's almost Father's Day, I think that a pizza recipe is only fitting. In my mind there's not a dad out there who doesn't love pizza. I'm sure there is some dad somewhere in the good ole U.S.A. who has an aversion to the American staple, but that person lives a sad life I'm sure!

homemade pizza

One of the things I enjoy making the most is homemade pizza. I've been making it for over 3 years now, ever since Captain America and I decided it was easier and more fun to make pizza at home than get takeout. One of the biggest advantages to this? You can have your own pizza! The Captain and I have different tastes and he's a big eater, so it was just as easy to make our own.  I am anti-sauce, while he prefers lots of the stuff.  This situation leads me to my recipe today.  Just about the only pizza recipe Captain America and I both eat is my buffalo chicken pizza.  And yes you are correct if you are thinking..."that picture above is the oddest buffalo chicken pizza I've ever seen". That is in fact NOT the buffalo chicken pizza, but I couldn't for the life of me find those photos.

The pizza dough crust I use is straight from The Pioneer Woman.  I don't make a single edit to the recipe, it's that good.  For years I used a plain bread dough recipe for my breadmaker and add italian herbs, but this is so much better.  And you don't need a bread machine.  For the pizza dough recipe, click here.  This actually gives you the recipe for the pizza that I demonstrate above, if you're interested.  You can use any pan you'd like, but I prefer one of those specialty pizza pans with the holes in it. If you'd like to make my buffalo chicken pizza, follow the directions for the dough, and then see below.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese (as much as you like!)  
fully cooked chicken (about 2 cups)
Frank's Red Hot Sauce (yes, this is THE buffalo sauce)
crumbed bleu cheese
finely chopped celery

To make the pizza:
Before you pat out the dough, put the mozzarella in the freezer for about 20 minutes.  This makes it a thousand times easier to cut.  Once the dough is patted out, mix the chicken and buffalo sauce in a bowl.  Be careful, because this sauce can be quite spicy, but add as much as you'd like.  Slice the mozzarella and place on the dough.  Sometimes I brush some extra hot sauce on the dough before, and sometimes not.  Then spread the chicken over the cheese and top with crumbled bleu cheese. 

Place in the oven until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.  One thing I highly suggest is lining the bottom of your oven with foil.  For some reason this pizza tends to leak over the sides, depending on the pan you choose to use.  Once you remove the pizza from the oven, sprinkle the celery over the top.  Wait a few minutes before slicing.

And there you have it folks.  Maybe make this for your dad this Father's Day.  Unfortunately I have to go out of town for Father's Day, so I am celebrating on Saturday with my dad.  Happy Father's Day dad, I love you!   

June 14, 2010

Happy Strawberry Shortcake Day

plated perfection

It seems there has been a long time debate regarding Strawberry Shortcake. Biscuit or Cake. That is the question. Not so much for me though, I know that I am a biscuit lover. I am a cake lover too, just not when it comes to strawberry shortcake.

This weekend, coincidentally, was full of strawberries. We went to our cabin in Strawberry and attended the annual Strawberry Festival. Now usually when we are in town for the festival, I require stopping at the Strawberry Lodge, one of three restaurants in our little town, for Strawberry Pie. However last year, pie was such a hot commodity for the festival, that I decided to make dessert at the house and avoid all the fuss. And with National Strawberry Shortcake day, I decided it would be the obvious choice.

monster berry

I chose a recipe for Southern Living Magazine's May 2006 edition. Since it was such a simple recipe, I only made a few changes. I actually made the shortcakes before we left, since altitude is not my baking friend, and I halved the recipe. I got 5 biscuits using the 1/3 measuring cup. I also substituted Cool Whip for fresh whipped cream. I know, sue me. But you try making fresh whipped cream in a cabin that doesn't quite play with a full deck. Example...two waffle makers but no sea salt.

Since I don't have any actual recipe changes, click here for the link to the recipe. Enjoy folks!

June 11, 2010

Pop-Tarts ala Homemade

completely homemade

Here's that recipe I promised you a long time ago.  Sorry about that.  When it comes to breakfast food, I like it all. I could actually live solely on breakfast items if I wanted to. When I was younger, pop-tarts were considered a treat. My dad liked the frosted brown sugar cinnamon ones, so that's what we usually had. Either that, frosted strawberry or frosted cherry. Back then, I'm not sure there were many more flavors.

I still like pop-tarts just as much as ever, the only difference is I can eat a lot more of them in one sitting that I used to. Let's just say that there may have been at least once instance where I ate an entire box. Please don't judge...yes I realize that was a poor dietary decision, and no, I don't care.

At some point in the past few weeks, I had this bubble of thought enter my head that I needed to make pop-tarts from scratch. My mom had some extra pie dough, and since brown sugar cinnamon were always my favorite, I decided to start with those. This was my first shot, but stay tuned, because I'd like to try again with a different crust. The issue with pie crust is the puffing and rising factor. The filling was almost dead-on, and let's get real, you cannot create the pop-tart frosting in a home kitchen, at least not without chemicals. Everyone that ate them (mom, dad, grandpa, and aunt) loved them. Please make them soon, if nothing else it's fun to say you made homemade pop-tarts.

Any homemade or refrigerated dough will do.

Brown-Sugar Cinnamon Filling:
1 Egg White at room temp
3/4 C. Powdered Sugar
1/4 C. Almond slivers or slices
1/4 C. Brown sugar
1 T. Cinnamon
In food processor, combine all ingredients and blend until well combined.

Roll the dough into a rough square, dusting with flour, until 1/8" thick. Cut dough into 4"x6" rectangles. Pair the rectangles for tops and bottoms. Brush the edges of your bottom with a whisked egg. Place a large dollop of filling on inside the egg wash, then spread it evenly. The amount of filling is up to you, but you can see in the pic below how much I did. Place the top sheet of dough on top and press firmly but gently onto the bottom sheet. Bake at 450F for about 7-8 minutes or until slightly brown.

check out the filling