Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ready For Camping?

 I am ready for the cool blue skies, pine trees, and the salty air. 
 I am ready for the greasy hair, campfire scented clothes, and sand in my shoes. 
 I am ready for the sound of 2 stroke engines, helmet hair, and the smell of exhaust.
Yep, I am ready.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gourmet Marsmallows For S'mores

I have been busy making marshmallows for our upcoming camping trip, and I have to say so far they are a success. I wish I had more time to make other flavors, but lets be real, how our we going to eat over 160 marshmallows as it is. (And that's not counting my friends marshmallows.) So here they are in no particular order. 
 Fresh Mint
Fresh Blackberry
Vanilla Bean
Caramel Swirl 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bubblegum Vodka

I love bubble gum. My favorite ice cream flavor as a child was bubble gum, and it still might be.  I remember ordering the yummy unnaturally blue ice cream and getting the tiny cup to spit the gumballs into. Once you finished the delicious ice cream you still had a treat of faded slobbery gumballs to enjoy. A few years ago I made gumball cupcakes, and they were just as delicious as the ice cream. 
A few weeks ago I stumbled across a blog that made bubble gum vodka. I was the prettiest shade of pink and HELLO it has a bubble gum flavor, so of coarse I was in. I only had two problems, I don't like alcohol, and when would I ever drink vodka. Lucky for me the perfect occasion came up, camping. (Isn't that why people camp?) So now came the issue of alcohol. When I order drinks I am the odd one who asks for less alcohol. I hate the gasoline taste and the burn as it goes down you throat. After much research I found a brand that supposedly didn't have that, they claim the better the alcohol the smoother it is. I don't know about any of this, but I went and bought the brand they said was one of the best, Chopin. When I opened it, it didn't smell like the vodka I know, and after tasting it, it didn't taste bad either. Add a little bubble gum to it and you got yourself a yummy girly drink.
Bubble Gum Vodka

750ml bottle Vodka
20 pieces Bubblegum
1 large mason jar
small kitchen funnel

Sanitize jar and lid ( I don't know if this is necessary for alcohol, but I am slightly OCD.)
Pour vodka into jar
Place pieces of gum inside ( I cut mine into small pieces, but I don't think it's necessary.)
Close jar with lid
Swirl around a little
Leave in refrigerator for 24 hours, swirling gum inside every so often.
After 24 hours pour vodka in jar back into bottle using funnel (I sanitized my funnel like the jars. OCD)
I refrigerated my finished Bubblegum Vodka, because I read to serve it chilled.

I was originally thinking about mixing it with Sprite or Cherry 7up, but it's so good I think we might drink it straight. Cheers!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sweet Snob

I have embraced most names I have been called; princess, spoiled, brat and even bitch, but snob is a name I am not fond of.  Having dealt with my fair share of name calling, it has been my experience most name calling is done only to justify the persons own short comings. Then their are times when the name is completely warranted.  Yes I am spoiled, but I also give as much if not more than I take, and I am a bitch, if you cross me I will try to make your life miserable, but I am definitely not a snob. 

I went to a cupcake shop this weekend to give it a second shot. I had tried their cupcakes when they first opened in 2007. I was so excited when they came unannounced into our office with a big box full of cupcakes as advertising.  I was so excited to try all of them I didn't know where to start. I don't remember all the flavors I tried but a do remember the disappointment I felt with my very first bite. CREAM CHEESE! The description says buttercream but the frosting all had a hint of cream cheese, which I hate. So this weekend I ordered another smaller box with a variety of flavors; Root beer Float, Pucker Up, Snowball, Pinkdelicious, and Chocolate. The Pinkdelicious was as I remembered, a good chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream with a hint of some sort of cream cheese. My husbands chocolate cupcake was just gross. The Pucker Up lemon was ok. The Snowball coconut was weird, the frosting was ok but the cake was more of a hearty oats type of cake than a vanilla cake. And the Root beer was as suspected weird, but not too bad. My husband thought they were great. He didn't think the frosting had a weird flavor or that the Snowball cake did either. 
So here are my choices 1.) I am crazy or 2.) I am a sweets snob. Maybe I am slightly unbalanced but I can't be making these tastes up, besides I really want to like this place. I guess the truth is I really am a snob. (:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Samoas Krispies Treats

I love Girl Scout Samoas cookies. Every year we buy a ton of boxes and freeze them for later, unfortunately they never last long because I can eat a whole box in one sitting. For the last few days I have had Samoas on my mind. I always want to make my own, but for some reason never do. Then yesterday came the perfect opportunity. My daughter wanted to make Rice Krispies Treats and we were throwing around different ideas when I said suggested adding coconut to them, and from there I realized I could turn them into Samoas.
The recipe is only somewhat time consuming because of the homemade caramel, but I would rather sit and watch sugar syrup boil than to use store bought caramel squares. Gross! Being that I just came up with the idea off the top of my head there is some room for improvement. The idea is good, but it was hard to distinguish the flavors, the Rice Krispies Treat are so overly sweet. Even with the recipe as is  they are still yummy, but you do need an extreme sweet tooth.

Samoas Krispies Treats

Caramel - The Culinary Institute of America recipe

1/2 cup water
2 cups sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup light corn syrup
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract

Coconut Rice Krispies Treats
3 Tbs butter
1 package regular marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut

chocolate chips

Combine water, sugar, condensed milk, corn syrup, and butter in a heavy-bottom 4 quart sauce pan
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until it reaches 245 degrees (about 25 minutes)
Stir in salt and vanilla
Set aside

Samoas Rice Krispies:
Coat a 13x9 pan with cooking spray or butter
In a large saucepan melt butter over low heat
Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted
Remove from heat and stir in Rice Krispies and coconut
Pour into pan press evenly
Pour caramel over top
Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the caramel and let stand for 5 minutes
Spread melted chocolate with knife and let harden
*I sprinkled sea salt on top to contrast with all the sweetness
Maybe make caramel Rice Krispies Treats and add the coconut and chocolate on top. Or sprinkle short bread cookie on top or mixed in. I know there are possibilities with the idea, further experimentation is needed.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fresh Blueberry Muffins...Some Rules Are Meant To Be Broken

My rule is that fruit should not be incorporated in any sweets. (I lie when I say it's because they are too healthy, it's just because I think fruit is gross.) The exception to that rule is when I am on vacation. I actually eat fruit on my own free will while on vacation, and I am very willing to try fruit I have never tried before. In the Cook Islands I leerily tried breadfruit and really liked it, dip them in ketchup and they taste just like french fries. With a 11 day camping trip coming up I want to freshen up on my berry skills. The campsites we stay in are surrounded by huckleberries and blackberries, so every year we pick a few bowls full and make pies, muffin, and pancakes. In a vacation frame of mind I made the best blueberry muffins. They are light and fluffy with the blueberries cooked perfectly inside. The best blueberry muffin ever.

Fresh Blueberry Muffins

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

Crumb Topping
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1  tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbs melted butter 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and line muffin tin 
Make crumb topping: Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon and melted butter to form a sandy mixture; set aside
Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in large bowl 
In small bowl mix oil, egg, vanilla and milk 
Pour liquids into flour mixture and combine
Fold in blueberries
Fill liners and sprinkle with crumb topping
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes 

*Note - I did have a few muffins collapse, I am not sure the cause. I first thought I took them out to soon and the centers might still be doughy, but they were done perfectly inside. I don't know.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Why I Am Not A Scientist - Chocolate Chip Cookie Project

Steps of the the scientific method:
1. Ask a question
2. Do background research
3. Construct a hypothesis
4. Test your hypothesis by doing an experiment
5. Analyze your data and draw a conclusion
6. Communicate your results

It all sounds easy enough, I mean elementary school kids have been doing this for years, so why can't I do it. I will tell you why, I am IMPATIENT. Instead of following what all 6 years olds learned in school, I just jumped right in and skipped steps 3 & 4.

Steps of the Roxie method:
1. Ask a question - Why did my chocolate chip cookies get so puffy
2. Do background research - Read blogs and message boards
3. Experiment using all the research information - Add more flour, use new cookie sheet, use bread flour, less baking soda, mix less, and refrigerate
4. Communicate your results

Well that worked great, because I have big puffy beautiful chocolate chip cookies. They are very tasty; soft; and picture perfect cookie, but what exactly caused them to be this way? Maybe if I followed the real method I would know, but I changed so many things I am almost back to square one. Well, here is a great recipe for puffy chocolate chip cookies anyway.
Chocolate Chip Cookies #4

3 cups bread flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter (melted)
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups chocolate chips

Put melted butter in freezer while preparing dry ingredients
In medium bowl combine flour, salt and baking soda
In a large bowl beat sugars until mixed
Add butter and beat for 20 seconds
Beat in the eggs and vanilla for 30 seconds9
Slowly add the flour and continue beating for 60 seconds (It will still be very floury)
Add the chocolate chips and continue mixing by hand (It will be very thick and hard to stir)
Place bowl in freezer while oven preheats to 350 degrees
Scoop out on thin baking sheet (not an AirBake) and bake for 10-14 minutes
 Cookies on the left are recipe #4 and on the right recipe #3
The Results: Very good. They were definitely thick and puffy, and taste pretty good. (I am still not a huge fan of thick cookies.) But they didn't have the exact taste of Toll House cookies.

So what was it that made these so puffy? My plan now is to use this same recipe and slowly alter it closer to the Toll House recipe. And I have learned my lesson, this time I will follow the scientific method.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Fresh Fruits And Vegetables

Being a sugartarian it might be surprising that I have a large garden and about 15 fruit trees. I love growing fruits and vegetables, as long as I don't have to eat them. Luckily my kids will eat anything, so when they whine that we don't have anything for a snack, (Meaning chips or cookies, because they have already eaten them all.) I tell them to go outside and find something. (They hate it when I do that) (:
Today I went around and took a few pictures of some of the things that are growing right now.

Roma Tomatoes
Seedless Grapes
My son has been waiting for the blackberries for months
Ok, so it's not edible, but I love my Gardenias. When there is a slight breeze you can smell their perfume though the entire backyard.

Not pictured are our 6 types of peppers, artichoke, peaches, and oranges. Now if only I could grow a cocoa tree, then I would be really happy.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Project...Still

I am still at it. This time I am trying butter flavored Crisco. I have tried regular Crisco before, by itself and in different measurements with butter with no luck. But I have to say I have an issue with all shortenings. For some reason they freak me out. Health wise butter and shortening are both gross, but for some reason the fact that shortening can sit unrefrigerated on a shelf doesn't seem right. So as I get ready to use butter flavored Crisco the outer wrapper throws a wrench into my baking. Right there on the top of the container it say " How to substitute Crisco shortening for butter or margarine in your favorite recipes, 1 cup Crisco + 2 tablespoons water = 1 cup butter or margarine." Crap, Crisco just added another damn variable. So what do I do, just substitute straight across or do I do what Crisco suggests. I decided on the straight across substitution first.

Chocolate Chip Cookies #3

2 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt ( a little shy, because we ran out.)
 1 cup butter flavor Crisco
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs room temperature
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
In a bowl of a stand mixer, beat Crisco and sugars until creamy.
Add vanilla and eggs, beat until combined.
On low speed add flour and mix for 30 seconds.
Add chocolate chips and stir in by hand.
Bake for 9 to 11 minutes.

The Results: Just what I thought, gross. Even my boss at work didn't like them. He asked if I did something different this time. (He doesn't know about my Mission.) I said yes, and before I even told him what it was he said it coats your mouth with a greasy feeling. When I told him what I did, he said I should stick with butter. So that's a big fat NO to butter flavored Crisco. Now what?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Saga

The chocolate chip cookie saga continues. After my afternoon exercise the first thing that popped into my head was to make Chocolate Chip Butterfinger Cookies. (My trainer said it is good to eat high protein food after working out.) I am still on my Chocolate Cookie Project, but I am not sure I can truly qualify this as part of the mission.

Chocolate Chip Cookies #2 (with Butterfinger)

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup Crisco
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg room temperature
1 egg yolk room temperature
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup Butterfinger chunks

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Chop up Butterfinger bar coarsely.
In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
In bowl of stand mixer beat butter, Crisco, and sugars until creamy.
Add vanilla and eggs and beat until combined.
Stir in chocolate chips and Butterfinger.
Bake 15 to 17 minutes.

Results: Delicious, but the next day the Butterfinger makes the cookie very crispy, which my son liked better. I am definitely going to make these again, probably every time I make chocolate chip cookies. I thought about using Butterfinger BB's but apparently they don't make them any more. With all that said they were not puffy Oregon cookies.


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