Caramel Apple Cider Rum Sponge Cake

3 May

Hi there!

Oh, hello!

How are you?

 

It’s finals week here at Clark University.  For me, this entails only one paper.  One final paper for my entire undergraduate career!  Ahh!  I had two exams and another paper, but they were all finished before finals week started.  I have SO MUCH free time right now, it’s amazing…with only one paper due on May 7, life is good!

Between doing research for this paper, I have had a chance to give something a try.  Something that I had been thinking about and considering for a while now…

 

For a Christmas gift, Tiffany and her younger sister Cassidy gave me Hot Apple Cider K-Cups.  YUM!  I do LOVE hot apple cider.  The only thing is that I don’t think I’ll be able to finish the entire pack by the time I move out of my suite (I’m trying to use up all of my food etc before I leave since I don’t know where I’m going and don’t want to bring food with me).  I’ve had this reoccurring idea of using a K-Cup or two to make something yummy and sweet.

I finally did it.

 

I’m not sure if you remember me mentioning this a month or so ago, but for my and Michael’s two and a half year anniversary, he told me to order a few cookbooks for myself as a gift.  I ordered three, one of which was the awesome Perfect Light Desserts: Fabulous Cakes, Cookies, Pies, and More Made with Real Butter, Sugar, Flour, and Eggs  by Nick Malgieri and David Joachim  (What a mouthful of a title huh?)

This book is amazing, has wonderful recipes for delicious desserts that are all low in fat, carbs, calories, and still taste amazing.

I’ve been wanting to try and make a vanilla cake with Apple Cider mix in it, so I found a delightful recipe in this book for “Raspberry Mousse Cake,” a sponge cake layered with a raspberry mousse.  It looks delicious and refreshing.  I decided that the base of my experiment would use the sponge cake in this recipe.

It took two tries, but I eventually got it.  I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out, and I hope that anyone who makes it is pleased as well :)

 

 

Caramel Apple Cider Rum Sponge Cake

Recipe adapted from “Raspberry Mousse Cake,” from Perfect Light Desserts: Fabulous Cakes, Cookies, Pies, and More Made with Real Butter, Sugar, Flour and Eggs, by Nick Malgieri and David Joachim

 

Here is What You Need for the Cake:

4 large eggs, separated

2/3 cup sugar, divided*

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

1 cup all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)

Half a packet (or K-Cup) of Apple Cider mix

*The original recipe called for 3/4 cup of sugar, divided.  I used a little less sugar just to reduce the calories/sugar even more.  Feel free to go with the original 3/4 cup of sugar if you would like :) 

 

 

Here’s What You Need for the Frosting

6 tbsp 1/3 Less Fat Cream Cheese (or regular)

1 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar

2 tbsp (or more, or less) Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce (or any kind of caramel sauce, but I highly recommend this one, it’s delicious)

1/2 Packet (or K-Cup) Apple Cider Mix

A little bit of rum (I used Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum) 

 

To make the frosting, mix the cream cheese and powdered sugar with an electric mixer until it is creamy and mixed together fully.  Then, add in half a packet (or K-Cup) of Apple Cider Mix, Caramel Sauce and rum (to taste).  Keep mixing together until everything is combined, and taste test occasionally to see if you would like any more rum or caramel or cider :)

 

Here’s What You Do:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F

Grease a cake pan, I used an 9.5 inch round pan

 

Separate your 4 eggs into two separate mixing bowls, and then lightly whisk your egg yolks to break them up a little bit

Alright, you four, break it up!!!

 

 

And then, whisk in half the sugar in a stream, followed by the vanilla  extract.

Although you can’t see it, there is sugar in there! This is before the vanilla, it’s hard to take pictures with one hand!

 

Now, whisk the yolks with an electric mixer until they are pale and aerated like this…

I just love how these yolks look!

It should take about a minute of whisking to get the yolks like that^

 

Okay, now combine your four egg whites and pinch of salt in a bowl, and whip with en electric mixer until they are white, opaque and starting to hold their shape like this…

Shape up, you guys!

 

Now, add in the other half of your sugar in a slow stream while continuing to whip the egg whites.  Do this until they hold a firm peak.  For this step, I stop occasionally and do the firm peaks check!

 

You know your egg whites, salt and sugar mixture is holding a firm peak when…

 

Now comes the time when you need to put your egg yolks and your egg whites together!  It’s getting exciting!

 

With a rubber spatula, fold the yolk mixture into the egg white mixture

Sorry about the fuzzy image, it’s hard for me to get a steady hand! This is more fun than folding laundry, that’s for sure!

 

Now, sift 1/3 of flour over this lovely egg mixture, and proceed to fold it in until it’s combined

 

Once combined, repeat with the remaining thirds of the flour until combined, and you have a wonderful looking cake batter!

 

 

Now comes the apple cider part of the recipe…

Fold in 1/2 a pack (or K-Cup) of Apple Cider Mix 

 

 

And then, put the batter into your cake pan gently

And bake for about 30 minutes, or until the cake is firm, well risen and a fork/toothpick comes out clean when a hole is poked into the center of the cake

 

Once it is done baking, immediately invert it onto a rack to cool!

You don’t need to put wax paper down, I just did it out of habit for some reason. Waiting for the cake to cool is so hard :(
But TOTALLY worth it!

 

Once the cake has cooled, poke some holes in the top of it and drizzle some rum over it!  After that, frost it with the Caramel Apple Cider Rum Cream Cheese Frosting (what a mouthful!)

Hmm..I wonder what happened to that piece…

And then, enjoy :)

 

Take a bite!

 

Don’t mind if I do…

Look at how gooey the frosting is..yummm…

 

It’s like a glass of Rum and Caramel Apple Cider. But in a cake!

 

A thing to remember about this cake…make sure that you cover it!  I left it out overnight uncovered, and lost a piece to  staleness :(  I salvaged the rest of the cake by proceeding to cover it with some aluminum foil, it doesn’t stick as much as saran wrap so you won’t lose as much of the yummy frosting to the covering!

 

With all of this free time I have now, I’ve been trying out all kinds of things in the kitchen, so hopefully I’ll finalize some ideas into successful and yummy treats to share with everyone in the not so distant future :)

 

I hope that everybody has a wonderful day! I know that I’ve really been enjoying my relaxing time.

 

In other good news, Michael got back to San Diego yesterday from Semester at Sea!!!  I’m so excited because I am sure his family missed him SO MUCH!  Annnnnd this also means that he’ll be back here in Massachusetts with me soon!  Yay! :D I haven’t seen him since January!  Whoa! I’m so excited!!!

 

I better go work on this final paper for college…how insane is that?  Where did the past four years go?  I have no idea, but I know I’m going to miss them!

 

Have an awesome day, I hope this recipe was enjoyable for you, and that if you make it, it turns out well and yummy!  Give me any feedback you have, it really helps! :)

 

Au revoir, mes amis! 

Peeps in a Blanket (a.k.a. Peeps Sugar Cookies)

27 Apr

Peeps in a Blanket! Aren't they cute? I know these don't look beautiful, but they taste great. The Peeps kind of deflate after being in the oven. Still give them a try, they're yummy!

Hi everyone!

It’s Friday!  Woohoo!  Well, at least for me it’s Friday.  This has been such a busy week.  Seriously. Busy. I had a final exam on Thursday morning and an 8 page paper due Thursday evening.  I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, and it’s actually not a lot, but this paper really took me forever!  The paper was for my Cinematic Treatment of the Tourist class (it was such a great class, I miss it already even though it just ended yesterday).  We had to write a paper that discussed how a film dealt with the subject of tourism in relation to texts that we had read over the course of the semester.

Sounds pretty simple, right?  Well, yes, the assignment was simple, but what I chose to write about was really complicated.

For my film, I chose Hostel.  Yes, that horribly bloody/gory/graphic/scary one.  I have to say, I love it.  I absolutely love those kinds of movies.  I’m a big horror fan, and have been since I was very young (i.e. 7/8 years old).

Needless to say, I was super excited about this paper.  I was so invested in it, and put a ton of time and thought into it.  I had so many different idea and thoughts that I wanted to discuss which made the writing of the paper complicated, I just could not fit it all into the paper!  I mean, I had already gone over the page limit of 8 pages…my paper ended up being 13 pages including the works cited.  Anyway, I finally had to look at all of my notes on the film, class discussions, class articles and my own ideas and then sort them out.  It took a long time, but I think that finishing a really complex and thorough paper that I care about is worth every second of hard work and, at times, confusion and frustration.

Anyway, now you have the story of my week up there ^

I’ve been so out of the blogging spirit this week because of my various tasks to complete, but now that I turned in my paper, all I have left is studying for an accounting exam on Monday and another film paper due on May 7.  Woohoo!  That’s very manageable :)

Know what this means?

I can finally post the sweet treat that I mentioned in my last post!

Yay!  I’ve been wanting to share it with you so badly!

I still have Peeps around the house, and I just think that they are the cutest little things, and a lot of fun to use in making sweet things, hence, the presence of Peeps in this post.  I know that I’ve been lacking some variety with the repetition of Peeps and Rice Krispies, but I’m really fixated on them for some reason.  Good news for those of you who might be over Peeps/Rice Krispies—I’m working on a few different recipes this weekend during breaks from studying for accounting!  Yay!

 

Peeps in a Blanket (a.k.a. Peeps Sugar Cookies)

This recipe came about from my fixation on Peeps and my recent craving for sugar cookies.  I searched and searched to see if I could find a lower fat sugar cookie recipe, and I had success!  

The recipe for these Peeps in a Blanket is very slightly adapted from this recipe for Low Fat Holiday Sugar Cookies

You will need these things: 

5 tbsp Smart Balance Light*

3/4 cup of sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 3/4 cup of flour 

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt 

1 Peep for each cookie**

*Note, if you do not care about the cookies being higher in fat, then feel free to use regular butter*

**Note, the original recipe said this makes about 30 cookies, but I got around 16 cookies

Here’s what to do: 

Beat your Smart Balance light/butter and sugar…

Do this, until...

Until creamy.  Like this….

So creamy!

Now, add your egg and your vanilla extract

Add egg and vanilla extract?
Check!

Mix this concoction well

Let's mix things up!

Alright.  Now, use another bowl, whisk together your flour, baking powder and salt

I wasn't sure if this step would be too "whisky"
ha ha.

Now, just stir your flour/baking powder/salt mix into your egg/sugar/butter/smart balance mix

Okay, this part was a little tricky to mix, so I ended up mixing with my clean hands. I found it to be fun and much easier than what I had been doing.

Now comes the hardest part of this recipe.

I mean, super difficult.

I wasn’t even sure if I could do this part.

Wrap up your cookie dough and let it chill in the refrigerator for two hours.

See what I mean?  That’s pretty hard….

I swear, the cookie dough was calling out to be, "Kate, take me out and eat me!"
But I ignored it, and I'm glad I did because then I got these fun cookies!

Once it has been two hours, and  your patience has been fully tested, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and spray a cookie sheet with some cooking spray. 

While the oven is preheating, make balls of the cookie dough and form a Peep around each one. 

Yes, I forgot to take a photo before I put them in the oven, but you get the idea of what it's supposed to look like, right?
The Peep is kind of wrapped up in the cookie dough.

Now comes the waiting game again.

Let these little guys bake for about 9-10 minutes…

Once your time is up, take them out and let them cool (I know, more waiting, but you don’t want to get burnt by a Peep–that’d hurt!)

When the Peeps in a Blanket have finished cooling, enjoy them :)

Peeps Pyramid!

As you probably noticed, I only made 3 of these Peeps in a Blanket.  The reason for this is that my roommates *gasp* don’t like Peeps.  I know, weird, right?  I wanted these to get eaten, so I only made a few with Peeps for myself.  I enjoyed them :)

As for the rest of the cookie dough, you’re probably wondering, what happened to it?!? 

Well, I tested out some various experiments of things that I can add into this sugar cookie dough.  I had some good results, and some so-so results, but I’ll tell you all about the good results later when I get around to making larger quantities of them :)

These Peeps in a Blanket are so yummy.  They’re so sweet.  They get a little chewy.  They’re a little sticky.  They’re just cute and fun.

I hope that you enjoy them, I know I did!

Now I am off to do a Ballet Beautiful DVD workout.  I do this workout on Fridays, Wednesdays and sometimes Sundays.  It’s a calmer workout than my usual Jillian Michaels workouts I do.

I’m hoping this Ballet Beautiful workout will help improve my posture–I have  terrible posture…

While I am studying for my accounting final all weekend, hopefully I’ll have a chance to take a break or two and make some yummies in the kitchen :)

Have a great day!

Bailey’s Hot Cocoa Rice Krispie Treats

23 Apr

Bailey's Hot Cocoa Rice Krispie Treats!

Bonjour, tout le monde!

That’s a little Francais for you, it means, Hello everyone!

I speak French, did you know?  I took it from eighth grade through high school, and then some in college too.  In total I’ve taken French classes for about seven years.  

Anyway, that’s a fun fact about myself on this Monday morning.

How was your weekend?  Do anything special?  I did.  Well, maybe it wasn’t special in the typical or exciting sense.

I got SO MUCH WORK DONE!! 

I know, I know, I’m a pretty boring college kid by most standards, but seriously, SO MUCH WORK!  I made myself a little to do list and plan for how I was going to start getting to work on my final assignments (not just of the year, but of my entire undergraduate college career!)  It just so happens that I have three big, important final assignments/exams due very close together…an 8 page paper due on Thursday, a final on Thursday, and a comprehensive accounting exam next monday.  

Eeek!

Oh, and then I have one more 8 page paper due on May 7, plenty of time to get my thinking and planning done.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking/planning about this paper due on Thursday; 8 pages isn’t too bad, but I’m SO invested in this paper, so I really want it to be great.

Before the weekend started I made a list for myself, this list was my plan for the weekend:

  • Finish making marketing flashcards
  • Think/plan/work on tourist paper (the class is called the Cinematic Treatment of the Tourist, and it’s been really great).

On Saturday, I had finished my flashcards using StudyBlue, the absolute best thing to ever happen to studying (if you’re studying anything, even things not for school, but for personal enrichment etc, use this…it’s amazing and it’s free).

I checked finish marketing flashcards off my list. 

Yay!

I started to think more about my Cinematic Treatment of the Tourist paper, I took some more notes on it in a more formal outline style (as opposed to my usual stream of consciousness huge paragraph style of notes) using Evernote.  In case you don’t know, Evernote is the best thing to ever happen to people who take notes, make lists, make reminders, etc, it’s super convenient and I highly recommend it.

I checked work on Tourist paper off my list. 

Yay!

Between finishing these two big bullet points on my to-do list, I took a little break.  I mean, I’d earned it by the time I finished making marketing management flashcards, right?

I made something.

I made something tasty.

In the kitchen.

Bailey’s Hot Cocoa Rice Krispie Treats

I know, I know, I made Peeps Krispie Treats last post.  But trust me when I say that these are super special and different.  After I made the Peeps Krispie Treats, I realized just how versatile and wonderful Rice Krispie Treats are, you can really do a lot with them…they’re like the color of shirt that goes with everything.  Know what I mean?

So, even though this is a similar recipe to last week’s, I think you’ll like it, it’s chocolately, sticky, chewy, hot cocoa-ey, Bailey’s-ey. 

Yes, I made those last two up.

So here you go, I share with you this recipe for

Bailey’s Hot Cocoa Rice Krispie Treats

Here’s What You Need:

2 tbsp Smart Balance Light (or regular butter, I like to reduce fat when I can)

3 cups Rice Krispies Cereal or Off-Brand

3 tsp Bailey’s Irish Cream (or more or other kind of liquor like kahlua!)

2 cups marshmallows (I used mini because that’s what I had around the house, I think either size would be fine, I can’t imagine a huge different)

1 envelope of hot cocoa mix (any kind you would like, I used reduced sugar because it’s what I had around the house)

Here’s What To do:

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees 

Now, grease a pan very well–you don’t want these sticking, they’re hard to get out when they stick.  I used some Pam Spray, but I’m sure butter or oil would work, I just find it easier to spray and spray and spray.

I used an 8” x 11” glass pan and I ended up with 12 treats, but I should say that my treats were varied thickness and size.  They were quite irregular, the mixture does not cover the entire pan, but it was the best option that I had.  If you don’t mind kind of strange looking treats that are different sizes and shapes, then go ahead with this size, but if you want them to be uniform, I’d go with a smaller size pan.

I can’t wait to have a fully stocked kitchen with all the sizes of pans I could ever want…

Okay, now that that stuff’s done, put your 2 tbsp Smart Balance Light (or butter) in a pot on the stove on low/medium heat.  For me this is at about 3/4

I like to watch it melt, it's pretty fun...

Now, add in your 3 cups of marshmallows!

I happen to think that marshmallows are ADORABLE. How about you?

Stir your marshmallows and Smart Balance Light/butter as it melts 

It almost looks like melted clouds...
or something...

It’s getting awfully melty….

You might know this already, but I like melty things.

When your marshmallow/butter/smart balance light mixture is smooth or almost smooth, add in your envelope of hot cocoa

Like this…

And stir

Stir really well!

Make sure you stir well so the hot cocoa mix is fully incorporated

Now, just add in your 3 tsp (or more!) or Bailey’s Irish Cream or other liquor

I would LOVE to try this with Kahlua! I bet it'd be pretty yummy...

And then, stir so the Bailey’s is fully mixed in with your cocoa/butter/marshmallow mixture

Now comes the crunchy part of the process. Add 3 cups of Rice Krispies Cereal

Sorry this picture is blurry :( it's hard to take photos and cook at the same time!

Stir in Rice Krispies Cereal so it is fully mixed

Transfer your Bailey’s Hot Cocoa Rice Krispie Treats mixture to your pan

And then, put it in the oven!

See you soon, Bailey's Hot Cocoa Rice Krispie Treats!

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes

If you want them super crispy, you can bake for longer, I just wanted a less crispy change of pace since I recently made super crispy Peeps Krispie Treats

Finally, it’s time. 

Yes, it’s that magic moment.

That moment when you can take out your Bailey’s Hot Cocoa Rice Krispie Treats from the oven.

The only bad thing about this magic moment, is that it’s followed by another highly un-magic waiting period. 

What are you gonna do?  You certainly wouldn’t want to burn yourself on these!  That’d be bad :(

Once your treats have cooled, cut them up into whatever size squares you would like.

And then..

munch on them! :D 

Happy munching!

Close up shot of these little treats

If you want, you can share them.

I’ve gotten much better at sharing over the years thanks to my best friend Tiffany (she’s in my about me section if you’re curious about our long history).  I’m an only child, so naturally I’ve had issues with sharing.

As I said before, I’ve gotten much better at it; however, I recently had a nightmare that Tiffany ate one of my three Cadbury Cream Eggs.  The fact that this was a nightmare makes me realize that I  may still have some sharing issues…

These Bailey’s Hot Cocoa Rice Krispie Treats weren’t the only thing created over here this weekend. 

Look at these cool shoes!!!

Taylor and Jay bought white shoes and painted them.  They worked on them all weekend!  

And you know what?

They’re still not done!  They’re putting a lot of time into their custom shoes.  It’s really cool to watch them work on them so diligently, it takes so much concentrationdedication, creativity, imagination and a steady hand.  

There’s been some modifications to these shoes since this photo was taken, but they still look amazing.  

I hope that if you make these Bailey’s Hot Cocoa Rice Krispie Treats, they turn out very well and very yummy for you!  If you do something different with these, let me know, I’d love to hear your own creative modifications on the recipe and how the results turned out for you!

Remember how I said that those treats weren’t the only thing created this weekend?  Well, the shoes were also created this weekend, but something else was made too…

Something sweet,tasty, and sugary.  

^That’s just a little preview of my next post that is soon to be created this week as I get more work done on my paper and exams. :)

You know how I mentioned earlier that I’ve taken French classes for about seven years?  Well, I’m still not quite fluent.  I would love to become fully fluent in French, it has to be so awesome and rewarding to be fluent in more than one language.  I’ve made it a project of mine to practice my French so I don’t forget any of it, and hopefully I’ll improve!

I want to learn so many languages.  I think soon, I’m going to try to learn Mandarin, Michael got us Rosetta Stone for Mandarin while he was in China a few weeks ago.  It’s going to be very difficult, but I think it’ll be interesting to give it a try; hopefully I retain some of it! :)

Do you speak any other languages? Which ones? Are there any languages you want to learn?

 

 

Have an awesome day, everybody!  I’m off to study my flashcards and work on my paper for Thursday!

 

Looking forward to sharing my next post!

Peeps Krispie Treats

17 Apr

Peeps Krispie Treats

Hello everyone!

I hope that everybody had a fantastic weekend.

I know I did.

Wanna know what I did?

I made some creations in the kitchen, tried out some ideas, watched some movies, lounged around, watched tv shows on Netflix and just took it easy.  My kind of weekend.  It was nice :)

I got a chance to try out some ideas that I had for some tasty creations.  I am sorry to say that they resulted in failures.  I was so discouraged and so frustrated at these failed ideas that I needed a serious pep talk.

Jay gave me one.  She’s good at that.

After my pep talk, I took a look around my kitchen cabinets and drawers in an attempt to find something to use for creating yumminess.  In my search, I found a pack of rice cakes that I bought at Trader Joe’s last week.  I ate one (it was so good) I was looking at the package of Peeps on the kitchen counter.  I suddenly got an idea.

A simple, but versatile and yummy idea.

Rice Krispie Treats.

I thought about what went into a standard rice kirspie treat…butter, marshmallows and of course, Rice Krispie Cereal.

I though about what a Peep was…

A marshmallow with some colorful sugar all over it that is in a cute shape.

It’s a shape that makes me feel extra amused and simultaneously a little badly about watching melt or puff up in the microwave, an activity that took place over here this past weekend.

PEEPS!

After this thought process, I realized that I had to try this out for myself to counter my kitchen fails of the day.

And that, my friends, is how the idea for Peeps Krispie Treats came to be.

I have to say, I’m glad I did it.  I needed to have a success, I was getting discouraged.

And with that, I give you…

Peeps Krispie Treats

Here’s What You Need:

2 tbsp of Smart Balance Light (you can use regular butter or another type of light margarine, this is just what I had, and I like to reduce fat whenever possible)

3 cups of Rice Krispies Cereal

2 packs of Easter Peeps (aka 4 trays, 20 individual Peeps)  you have to use the Chicks or else the recipe won’t work.  Just kidding, use whatever kind of Peeps you have, you can even use marshmallows if that’s what you have

Here’s What You Do:

First, spray a pan with cooking spray.  Be very generous with the spray, I made a batch before these and didn’t use enough spray and man, oh my was it difficult to get those suckers out!

For the pan, I used an 8” x 11” glass pan and ended up with 14 squares.  You can use a smaller pan if you want them to be extra thick.

Now, preheat oven to 350.  There’s plenty of recipes for no-bake rice krispie treats, but I wanted mine to be crispy, crunchy and chewy, so I decided to bake them.  I feel like this made them a little less sticky and a bit easier to handle.

Alright, now combine your Peeps and Smart Balance/butter in a pot on the stove at medium/low heat (for me, this was level 3/4)

Look at those little guys! Even though you only see one container of Peeps here, I did use two. I just added them in at different times. Add both containers at the same time, or staggered, it really makes no difference

And then, it starts to get really fun

Melting. Peeps. Awesome.

But wait, it gets better

Meltier Peeps!

Would you believe me if I told you it gets even better…

Even meltier Peeps.

As your Peeps and butter/Smart Balance mixture melt, stir occasionally.

Stir the Meltiest Peeps.

And now, add in your 3 cups of Rice Krispies Cereal

Once you have stirred in your Rice Krispies cereal and it is fully mixed with the melted Peeps, move to the pan that you greased earlier

If you want to get crazy you can top them with jellybeans. 

I got really crazy. 

And then, put these treats into the oven!

My oven was full of treats!

I baked mine for around 15 minutes or so.

**Keep in mind, I like mine really crunchy/crispy/chewy/hard, which might not be ideal for everybody.  Keep track of their time in the oven to get them the way you want.  I would start with five minutes and then check and see if it’s what you want.  Remember, you can always put them back in after they’ve cooled if they’re not how you want them.**

Take the treats out of the oven, let them cool (the hardest part ever), then cut, and serve and enjoy. 

Look at those Peeps Krispie Treats!

I decided that for this entry, I would try to take some really interesting pictures.

To do this, I used some characters that live in my common room…

Meet Peanut, my dancing cat speaker.

He wanted the one with the pink jellybean.

Meet the wooden Armadillo that my dad got for me from Mexico when I was in high school.

This is what my roommate, Taylor saw when he walked in yesterday. He saw me taking this photo. He looked at me and said, "what are you doing, Kate?" I looked up and said, "I'm...taking a picture.." Living with me can be exciting in a non-exciting way. And weird.

Now, I am going to spend my day working on various assignments for classes that all seem to be due very close together!  It’s my last semester ever of undergrad, so I might as well go out with a bang, right?

Of course, I’ll probably take some breaks to make some stuff in the kitchen.  These treats were fun and easy and can be very versatile!  I plan on experimenting with their versatility in the days to come.

Yesterday, it was almost 90 degrees!  That’s crazy for New England weather this early!  I took full advantage of it and sat outside in my bathing suit to work on some stuff for class.  I try to wear sunscreen whenever I lay out in the sun, so I made sure to put on some spray sunscreen before I went out.

Later, I looked in the mirror and saw some red on my arm.  I continued to look at my back, pulled the back of my shirt down and saw something scary.  

INSANE SUNBURN!  

Look at the details from my bathing suit!

That’s only part of it.  There was some more on my back down by hip, and of course there was a big burned spot on the bottom of my rear on the right side.  Not the left side too,  just the right side.

Youch.

And I leave you with that final image of part of my sunburn.

I hope that this has been fun, festive and enjoyable for everyone reading.

I wish you the best of luck in making these treats or any other treats/confections/sweets/savories/meals that you prepare in the future!

Have fun with these Peeps Krispie Treats!  You can add all kinds of fun stuff to them  like sprinkles, chocolate chips, candies….and you can even be totally crazy and use Peeps bunnies instead of Chicks if you want…if you wanna be that crazy.

Have a marvelous day! :D

Kahlua Ice Cream! Oh my!

13 Apr

Kahlua Ice Cream with some yummy toppings!

 

Hello there!

It’s been a while since my last post, huh?  Yeah.  It was a good week though, very busy and very productive, and overall enjoyable!  I sure am happy it’s Friday though, I love my relaxing weekends :)

How was your week?

This past week, my school (Clark University) had something called Spree Day.  It’s a day every year that classes are cancelled, there is a band, and a carnival type thing with bouncy houses, kettle corn and other types of activities.  Normally what happens is most people just drink all day from first thing in the morning until late at night.

In case you don’t know, I’m not that much of a drinker.  That is, I’m not really a fan of/participant in binge drinking. I do, however enjoy a drink or two at dinner sometimes when I’m out for dinner.

This year, I decided that I would just spend my Spree Day doing whatever I wanted to do.

I’m an introvert, so I usually enjoy doing quiet things by myself or in smaller groups of people, and I get tired easily.  I decided that to fully enjoy my final Spree Day and embrace my new found appreciation for my introvert qualities, I would stay home and relax with my roommates, get some work done and make some fun stuff in the kitchen!

I had a wonderful day :)

I did decide that I wouldn’t eliminate alcohol from my day entirely.  Although I’m not a big drinker, I did make a trip to the liquor store to pick up some nips of various alcohol to use in my cooking!  I’ve recently been wanting to make certain recipes that require alcohol, but I don’t usually have it around the house, so I figured I would just get it finally and get a chance to experiment with making sweet things that contained alcohol.

I also stopped by the supermarket for some Easter candy sales…

Yummm.

Here’s what I ended up with from my trip to the supermarket and the liquor store: 

6 Cadbury Creme Eggs

1 Pack of Peeps

1 Bag of Jelly Beans

1 nip of Bailey’s

1 nip of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum

1 nip of Kahlua

1 nip of Tres Leche

I decided that these various items would be my cooking challenge to myself in these next few cooking sessions!

The items for the challenge!

 

 

So, this Kahlua Ice Cream started from one of my favorite blogs EVER: www.chocolatecoveredkatie.com

She’s AWESOME.  Her recipes ROCK.  I LOVE her.  I’m slightly obsessed.  Seriously, I am.

She has a lot of YUMMY and HEALTHY and AWESOME ice cream recipes.  Recently, she posted something called “Rated R Ice Cream” 

It was an ice cream recipe similar to some of her others, but it had liquer in it.  I decided this would be the basis for the first recipe of my kitchen challenge!

Kahlua Ice Cream

adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie’s recipe for “Rated R Ice Cream” 

The recipe for my Kahlua Ice Cream is the same as hers, except I adapted it by using a nip of Kahlua in mine.

It’s very easy to make, you simply combine all of the ingredients together in a shallow dish or ice cube trays

Combine it all!

Then comes the hard part.  Being patient!  Being patient after putting the mixture in the freezer and waiting for it to freeze!  Patience can be hard for me, especially when it involves eating something yummy!

There is the Kahlua Ice Cream in our jam packed freezer. The waiting is the hardest part of the recipe!

When the magic moment finally comes, just blend it all in your Vita Mix!

See the link to the “Rated R Ice Cream” recipe for a way to make this without a Vita Mix

This is what I got after I blended mine up….

Mine is definitely not as beautiful as Chocolate Covered Katie's, but I promise it was really yummy!

I decided to jazz it up a little bit…

Some Cool Whip, chocolate syrup, sprinkles and ground up sugar, coffee beans and cocoa that I got from Trader Joe's! YUM.

This recipe makes a HUGE serving of YUMMY ice cream!  Feel free to split it up if you want, I made mine last for two nights!  If you decide not to eat it all in one sitting, just put some plastic wrap over it and put it back in the freezer and then enjoy whenever you like :)

This was a fun thing to make, and it was sooooo good!  Very refreshing!

 

This weekend, I will be working on making some things with my other challenge ingredients, so hopefully I’ll have something yummy and interesting to post once the weekend is over.

 

I hope that this was enjoyable for anyone reading, and that if you make it, you really enjoy it!

 

Also, you should DEFINITELY check out www.chocolatecoveredkatie.com, you will find some truly amazing, delicious and healthy recipes that I’m sure you’ll love and enjoy making!

 

 

What I’m hoping this challenge that I’ve created will do is help me with getting my creative juices flowing in the kitchen.  I hope that by using these ingredients, I will learn some new recipes, techniques and come up with some new ideas or learn more about how to build off a pre-existing idea.

 

This weekend should be fun and full of learning, kitchen experimenting and very messy hands! My favorite kind of weekend :)

Have a great weekend everybody! :)

 

What Do You Get When You Cross Some Meringue and a Chocolate Mochi?

7 Apr

 

Mini Mochi Baked Alaska. It's yummy!

 

 

 

I love Mochi ice cream.  Have you had them before?  In case you haven’t, they’re these wonderful ice cream treats–pounded sticky rice (mocha) with ice cream inside!  D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S.  They’re perfect.  So, now that we’ve got that all cleared up, I happened to have an entire pack of them in my freezer!  Chocolate ones…mmmmm.

I was thinking the other day, man, I better do something with these soon….

And then, I had it!  I had the perfect idea to try out for my leftover Mochi!

Wait for it…

Mini Mochi Baked Alaska!

Ahh!

Okay, so it’s not exactly like a baked Alaska, there’s no cake involved in these little guys, but the concept was similar–ice cream wrapped up in meringue and put in the oven for a few minutes.  Delish.

I have to admit, I was thinking about this experiment all day today.  Seriously, all day.  An hour and fifteen minute film class (which I love) was overpowered by my mind racing at the thoughts of all the different possibilities and outcomes involved in the experiment that was to take place later.  Last night as I lay in bed reading a book, my mind kept distracting me with the need to find a meringue recipe.  Yes, I was am a woman entranced by an intriguing culinary experiment.

This weekend is Easter weekend in case you don’t know.  I’m from Ohio and go to school in Massachusetts, so traveling back for Easter, which I don’t even celebrate really, doesn’t happen.  Two of the three roommates are gone this weekend, leaving only two of the usual four.  Things are pretty quiet this weekend.  I figured it would be the perfect time to experiment in the kitchen.

This evening after I had a yummy dinner and spent some time browsing Netflix, I carried out the experiment.  And I must say, I was quite pleased with the results, and I hope you will be too if you decide to try it!

Meringue Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart’s Mocha-Chip Meringue Recipe 

Here’s What You Need:

Mochi*

3 egg whites

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tsp espresso

*Note: I used chocolate Mochi just because I LOVE chocolate and I happened to have this flavor around the house.  Feel free to experiment a little and try different flavors of meringue and/or Mochi-feel free to make it your own if you want!

I made just one, but I had A LOT of meringue left over.  This recipe for meringue would definitely be enough for an entire six pack of Mochi if that is what you so choose :)

Here’s What You Do: 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees 

In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch

Your first step!

Next, whisk together 3 egg whites and 1/4 tsp of salt with an electric mixer on medium speed until frothy.

Like this…

Frothy!

Okay.  Now you’re going to keep on whisking! But add in the sugar/cornstarch mixture one tablespoon at a time until it’s all in there!

Keep whisking until you get stiff, glossy peaks like these….

Look at those peaks!

Now that you’ve got those lovely, stiff peaks, add in the espresso and cocoa powder and vanilla extract 

Fold in the additions

More fun than folding laundry!

Don’t forget to get any leftover from the electric mixer!  You might get your hands messy…I know I did!

Look at those messy hands! :D

Now it gets really fun…. cover the Mochi in the meringue.  There’s not an official or proper way to do this, just make sure it’s entirely covered like this….

Mochi+Meringue=??

Put it in the oven for about 3 minutes, make sure the meringue is stiff and a little crisp when you take it out.

Here’s what I got…..

Whoa! A mocha covered in meringue!

A view of the inside after I took a much anticipated bite….

It looks strange, but I assure you, it was DELICIOUS. Try it! :D

All in all, this experiment proved to be successful and full of lots of possibilities for getting creative in the future.

It was definitely worth all the obsessing I was doing beforehand.

So, if this meringue recipe made SO MUCH meringue and I only made one  mini Mochi Baked Alaska, you’re probably wondering what on earth I did with that spare meringue? 


I’m glad you asked….

Well, when life gives you meringue, you make meringue cookies.  Naturally.

Put a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet, spoon the meringue onto the baking sheet and then pop them into an oven at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.  The result is yummy :)

Look at those beauties. I just wanna eat 'em up! Yum!

I hope that this has been an enjoyable post for anyone reading, I know that creating it was enjoyable for me! Have fun with this recipe and experiment a little if you want!  That’s one of the best parts is trying out fun combinations and seeing how they turn out.

As I said before, it’s a pretty quiet weekend over here, so hopefully between working on papers/brainstorming for papers/doing my accounting homework, I’ll have a chance to make some more stuff in the kitchen!

To everyone who celebrates Easter, Happy Easter!  To everyone who celebrates Passover, Happy Pesach!  Last year, I had my first Passover Seder (for those of you who don’t know, I’m going to be converting to Reform Judaism in a few years when I can fully commit the time needed for the conversion process), I wanted to have one this year, but sadly it did not happen.  Next year, it will :)

If you do not celebrate Easter or Passover, then Happy Weekend!

I want to leave everyone with this image below of a cute kitten sleeping.  Michael is in China right now for Semester at Sea, and saw this little guy in the window of a pet store in Shanghai.  Behold the cutest freaking thing ever….

OH. MY. GOD. CUTE. OVERLOAD.

Okay, that’s not all.  He also sent me a picture of these cutecutecute puppies…

good gravy!

So with those two super super super cute pictures, I wish you a great day, a great weekend, and warm wishes for lots of fun in and out of the kitchen!

Silly Cheesecake Cookies!!!

4 Apr
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Silly Cheesecake Cookies!!

Hello!  Today is Wednesday, which is my favorite day of the week…why?  NO CLASSES FOR ME!  Yay!  I can spend the entire day doing homework, cooking, baking, grocery shopping, lounging, etc. It’s wonderful.

It’s been a while since my first post.  To be honest, I have been getting somewhat frustrated and a little discouraged from time to time about baking.  Here’s the deal–I like to make things lower in fat whenever I can (ex. I used slow-churned ice cream for the baked alaska) but I am still relatively new at all of this baking and creating stuff (from scratch, anyway).  The combination of these things can sometimes yield undesirable results in the kitchen :(  Combine this with the fact that I am sometimes a little bit overambitious and try to make something crazy with no recipe for guidance and then it’s easy to see how I can get so discouraged.  Despite the discouraging results I have seen in the past week thanks to my just jump in the kitchen and measure stuff and combine it and see what happens and expect great results approach, I have learned a lot.

So, the other night when I talked to Jay (if you don’t remember from the first post, she’s my roommate Taylor’s girlfriend) about my frustrations (her mom is a serious baker/cook/foodie), she helped me realize all of the above, I learned those things with some practice, experimenting, and support/encouragement/help from a good friend.

That being said, I realized that I needed to work on practice with recipes first before I could get to the point of making my own recipes.   I thought back to the baked Alaska and thought about how wonderful it turned out; I realized that I could adapt from a  recipe that was already made, but that I could still do little things to sort of make it my own, give it my own creative twist.  So, I went on a multiple day search for something that looked great that would give me a chance to put my own little tiny twist into the recipe, and I found something that looked absolutely amazing…

Know what it was?

Oreo Cheesecake Cookies.

Yum.

I found this recipe from browneyedbaker.com

I could not be happier that I found her blog, it’s truly amazing.  Although, I will say that it was quite the temptation over the weekend when I was trying to study for my accounting exam…that just shows how awesome it is considering how much I love accounting (seriously, I love accounting, no sarcasm at all).

Anyway, I had been thinking about the possibility of making a cheesecake at some point during this blogging adventure I have started, and recently I had become the recipient of a lovely Mars bar.  I thought to myself I’ll make a Mars Bar Cheesecake!   When I saw the browneyedbaker’s recipe for there Oreo Cheesecake Cookies, I knew what I wanted to do.

Yes, I wanted to put my Mars Bar into cheesecake cookies.  Win.

Here’s the thing about Mars Bars, I don’t think they sell them in the United States, at least not where I live.  I had never had one.   My boyfriend, Michael, is on Semester at Sea right now and I have become pen pals with his good friend Emma, who is from Canada.  She and I have had a few conversations about chocolate, sweets, candy etc, and she has raved about Mars Bars.

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Here's my boyfriend, Michael on the Semester at Sea Ship. He's having such a great time!

I really wanted to try one.  Lucky for me, when Jay’s German exchange student from high school, Konstantine, was visiting last weekend, he had a Mars Bar from his flight he didn’t want.

I got it.

I got a Mars Bar.

YES.

We also happen to have a TON of M&M’s around my suite.  Peanut, milk chocolate, pretzel, you name it and we’ve got it.  Chris, one of my roommates, and Jay both receive M&M’s for gifts from family members, but neither really like them, so they just accumulate until we find a use for them.  I had found a use for the M&M’s accumulating in our cabinets…I would add them to the cheesecake Mars Bar cookies.  Yes.  So that’s why they’re called Silly cookies, for some reason, I just thought it was so fun and silly to put all of those things into a cookie!  It’s pretty great though.

Okay, so I think that I have rambled enough for now, and I will now give you the recipe for these silly cookies.

Silly Cheesecake Cookies (Recipe adapted from BrowneyedBaker’s Oreo Cheesecake Cookie Recipe found here: http://www.browneyedbaker.com/2011/03/22/oreo-cheesecake-cookieso

1/4 cup of Smart Balance Light*

8 tbsp of 1/3 less fat Cream Cheese** (I put in extra cream cheese just because, feel free to add less if you want)

1 cup sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 chopped up Mars Bar

as many or as little M&M’s as you want, or any other kind of candy

Note: I like to do lower fat substitutions when I make things, so feel free to make the same substitutions I did or not, it depends on what you prefer, if you do not want to make the substations, that’s perfectly fine and you will still get a great product :)

*I used Smart Balance Light because it is lower in fat; I also used half the amount as the original recipe.  Feel free to go with the original if you like

**I used 1/3 fat cream cheese and added 2 extra tbsp for an especially cream cheesy flavor; again, feel free to go with the original if you would like

Here’s What You’ve Gotta Do: 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (mine stuck, so I would recommend putting a little cooking spray on the parchment paper!)

First, combine cream cheese and Smart Balance (or butter if you do not want lower fat substitutions) in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and combined 

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Looks good to me!

Next, add in your 1 cup of sugar 

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SUGAR!

Then, combine sugar into the cream cheese and Smart Balance light mixture 

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it looks SO yummy!

After that, add in 1 cup of flour 

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Then, mix well! 

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It's looking nice and thick and yummy. Mmmm...

Okay, now it’s time to cut up your Mars Bar (or other type of candy bar you are using) 

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Behold, the Mars Bar. Yes, I may have taken a tiny bite...I hadn't ever had one before! Pure yumminess, I tell you!

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I can't say that I cut up candy bars a lot, but it was sure fun!

Now, add in your Mars Bar/M&M’s/other candy item 

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Look at all those delightful Mars Bar bits!

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See what I mean? those are holiday M&M's, we just have them from random times they were given as gifts!

And now, it is time to put these little guys into the oven to bake! 

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Looks like everything is all combined well, now it's time for the magic moment...

In they go! 

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They're so colorful. I admit it, I kind of gazed into the oven during their time in there...

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Okay, this picture is AWFUL, I'm sorry. So why would I include it? Just to give you an example of what they look like done. Again, I would put them in for maybe 2 minutes less than I did if I could go back in time! That's personal preference though

Here is the final yummy product

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Oooh la la!

Now, enjoy! 

Remember how I said earlier that I have learned a lot?

One thing I have learned is that I am still a beginner, I cannot just jump in and start doing things that I think will turn out well with absolutely no guidance from a preexisting recipe, especially if I am making lower-fat substitutions.  I need to take it a little bit slower, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The other thing I have learned is that it takes a lot of time practice and experience to make your own recipes from scratch (at least with baking, when I try out new experiments while I make dinner, it generally works out better), I am not at this point yet, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The final thing I have learned is that baking is a science, it is very exact, and making substitutions is a very difficult thing to do because of how exact this delicate science is; being able to do this takes practice.  There’s nothing wrong with that.

To help me with this fun and messy adventure, Michael let me get a few cookbooks for our two and a half year anniversary :)

Hopefully they will arrive soon, they should be a great help in learning about this wonderfully fun art of baking!

I hope that you enjoy these Silly Cheesecake Cookies and that you have fun getting your hands messy while making them :)

FYI: I am so sorry about the less-than-great/poor quality of my photos.  I use my iPhone to take pictures because I lost the battery charger for my digital camera :( I haven’t used my digital in years (seriously) because Michael is a photographer, so I never really needed to use it when he was here.  I will take better pictures and try to find an alternative to my phone!  I was a little shaky for these photos :(

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