Monday, September 30, 2013

Foodie Penpal Reveal Day #3

Happy Foodie Penpal Day!

Do you know what I love more than chocolate and coffee??  A FOODIE PENPAL WHO SENDS ME CHOCOLATE AND COFFEE!

This month my Foodie Penpal Package arrived from Texas. 

As you can see - there is some yummy stuff in there:

1.  Spinach & Kale Chips - This was a new experience for me . ..and I really liked them!  Excellent flavor and super crunchy.

2.  Kashi Bars - It's been a while since I had Kashi bars, so I hadn't had this flavor.  Very yum.  Not too sweet and nice kick of salt in them.

3.  Roasted Seaweed Snacks (Honey Mustard flavor) - Haven't tried these yet.  They definitely sound interesting.

4.  Peet's Coffee - good timing on this one!  We were nearly out of coffee and this was opened and brewed soon after receiving :)  I haven't seen this brand at the grocery store - but it is delicious.

5.  Barney Butter - Almond butter, what's not to love?

6.  Mexican Chocolate - I am very excited about this one.   Many, many moons ago I went on a high school trip (including a family stay) to Mexico.  They really do have the best hot chocolate.  Hoping to use this to create a fabulous mug of said liquid.

7.  Lindt Chocolate Bars - really?  Do I need to say anything else!  *I <3 Chocolate*

8.  Pink Onion Salt - not sure how I'll use this yet, but it will happen soon . . I'm sure of it.

9.  Berry Fruit Strips - Very yummy.  Not too sweet and too chewy.  Excellent.

Curious about the Foodie Penpal Program? Head over to The Lean Green Bean for more details!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Peanut-Nut Toffee Bars

These tasty treats are a family favorite.  And by family favorite, I mean that when ever my dads family would have a get-together, it was my mom's duty to bring the Peanut-Nut Toffee Bars.  What makes these so special?  Well, they are a little bit like a home made granola bar . . .but a thousand times better.  They are sweet, chewy and a little nutty and they have a wonderful toffee flavor, not a sugary-flavor like granola bars.  And they were everybody's favorite and I am not joking about this.  She knew they were everyone's favorite too and when she baked them - she even had a little smile and twinkle in the eye.   After Mom passed on, the family thought that I could automatically take over the recipe.  Or so they assumed.  Of course, I couldn't find it anywhere.  I searched for years.  Seriously:  years.  And then one day, while flipping through a cookbook I had looked through a million times before . . .two pages were stuck together.  And there was the recipe.  Not that I've brought it to any family function, but at least know where it is.  And now, without much further ado . . . 

Peanut-Nut Toffee Bars
4 Cups Oatmeal
1/4 Cup Melted Butter
1/4 Cup Melted Shortening
1/2 Cup Light Corn Syrup
1 Cup Brown Sugar
3 Teaspoons Vanilla
2/3 Cup Peanut Butter
2 Cups Chocolate Chips
2/3 Cup Chopped Walnuts (optional)

Step 1:  Preaheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare large cookie sheet by lining with parchment paper (I highly recommend doing this - it is very important.  The bars will likely stick otherwise).

Step 2:  Combine oatmeal, butter, shortening, syrup, brown sugar and vanilla as if for pie crust.  Pat onto cookie sheet;  bake for 10 minutes.  

Step 3:  Melt peanut butter and chocolate chips in double boiler;  add nuts.  Spread onto bars;  cut while warm.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Malt Chocolate Cake

I love to bake.  It's no secret.  And a while back my mother-in-law gave me an old calendar that had some recipes in it from the local creamery.  First it sat on the counter.  Then it made it's way to the cupboard . . .and there it sat for about a year and a half.  Until the other day that is.  I was in the cupboard to grab something and shebam, it fell out of the cupboard.  And seeing as I was in one of those cleaning moods . . .it was time to go through it and file it away appropriately.  

And this cake, OMG, it is da bomb!  Evilly delicious. And super simps.  

Malt Chocolate Cake 
(Hastings Creamery Calendar)


For the Cake:
2 Cups Flour
1 and 1/2 Cups Sugar
1/4 Cup Malt Powder
6 Tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Baking Soda
1 Egg, Beaten
2/3 Cup Oil
1 Cup Buttermilk
1 Cup Hot Coffee

For the Frosting:
14 Tablespoons Butter, softened
3 Cups Powdered Sugar
2 Teaspoons Unsweetened Cocoa
1/2 Cup Malt Powder
4 Teaspoons Milk

For the Cake . . . .
Step 1:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease and flour a 9x13 cake pan.  Set aside.

Step 2:  Combine the flour, sugar, malt, salt, baking soda and cocoa in a large bowl.

Step 3:  Stir in the beaten egg, oils and buttermilk and mix until combined.

Step 4:  Slowly stir in the hot coffee.  Mix until the ingredients are well combined, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.  This will be a very thin batter.

Step 5:  Pour the batter into the cake pan.  Bake the cake for 30-35 minutes, until the top springs back when touched and a cake tester comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting it.

For the Frosting. . . .
Step 1:  Beat the softened butter in a medium bowl.  Gradually add in the powdered sugar, cocoa, malt powder and milk.  Mix until well combined.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Pineapple Cucumber Salad

The other day I was going thru an old stack of magazines with all intentions of purging them.  While doing so, I came across this recipe from Everyday Food (which is now a defunct magazine . . just in case that gives you indication on how old of a stack this was).  I just so happened to have fresh-from-the-garden cucumbers on-hand and I thought this salad would be perfect with dinner.   It did not disappoint!  I adapted it slightly to what I had on hand.  Give it a try - my family loved it!

Pineapple Cucumber Salad
(adapted from Martha Stewart)
2 Cups Cucumber, diced and seeeded
(1) 20 oz Can Pineapple Chunks, drained
1/4 Cup Cilantro, chopped
1.5 Tablespoons Lime Juice
In a bowl, combine the above ingredients.  Season with salt and pepper.
Super simps, refreshing and yummy!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Wisconsin Style Beer Brats

I always thought that brats were always just okay.  I was never a big fan of them.  I get it.  It's a sausage that's usually served in a bun.  Not that exciting if you ask me.  Until I met my husband.  Who previously lived in Wisconsin (home of beer and brats).  Then it became a different story.  So, apparently there is a right way and a wrong way to make brats.  Here is the right way.

Wisconsin Style Beer Brats

1 package Brats, uncooked (not the precooked kind)
1 stick of Butter
1 large Onion, sliced (or two small ones)
1 large can or bottle of Beer

Step 1:  Prep your onions and roughly chop them.

Step 2:  In a pot, add the butter, onions and beer.  Then add the raw brats.

Step 3:  Bring to a boil and and cook for about a 1/2 hour (or until the brats are cooked through).  Preheat the grill.

Step 4:  Remove the brats from the liquid.  Continue to cook down the liquid until it reduces into a golden, thick liquid.  

If you cook it too long - it will begin to separate and the onion will be come sticky.  It's not necessarily bad, but can become bitter at that point (depending on the beer you used).** Place reduced sauce in serving dish.

Step 5:  Place brats on the grill.  The goal is just to "crisp up" the skin.  As well, feel free to toast or grill the buns.
Step 6:  To serve, place a brat on the bun and top with the onion/beer sauce.  I like to eat mine with mustard - my hubby says that ketchup is sacrilegious.  And I'm okay with that.

**Note:  in my photo of the finished brat, you'll notice that the onion/beer sauce did brown.  It still tastes good, but depending on the brew you use - it can become bitter.