Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Overnight Oats with Coconut Milk and Chia Seeds

I know, overnight oats, kinda last year huh?  But, I realized I never posted about them and quite frankly. they one of the most perfect summer breakfasts.  With just a touch of prep work the night before, you have a cool, creamy, filling breakfast in zero minutes.  I like adding the Chia seeds because they add a pudding-like texture to the oatmeal plus a little bump of protein but feel free to leave them out.  Also, the coconut milk adds a touch of tropical flair and works perfect if dairy isn't your thing.

Overnight Oats

  • 1/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup-ish coconut milk (use light coconut milk, its not as thick, think regular milk vs. cream)
  • honey as desired

In a bowl or Mason jar combine oats, chia seeds, and blueberries.   Pour coconut milk over mixture until covered.  Drizzle with honey.  Allow to sit overnight.  Enjoy in the morning.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Home Made Moose Tracks Ice Cream

My former college roomie gives the most perfect gifts.  It's like she looks into your brain for what you want and pulls out the perfect thing.  In college, she made me this double sided fleece throw blanket that was extra long so it fit our dorm beds.  Best Gift Ever.  Nobody ever gives you a throw blanket that covers both your shoulders and your feet.  If my house ever caught on fire, it might be the one thing I try and grab on my way out.

Also on the list have been crack climbing gloves (by the way Marie, all my girl climber friends are jealous) and the Pioneer Woman cookbook.  Both out of the blue, no mention, nothing.  Just the perfect gift.  

Another such gift arrived at my doorstep in time for Christmas this year and it was this beautiful purple ice cream maker.  Now I love me some ice cream, but after I churned my first batch of homemade ice cream, holy cow do I LOVE ice cream.  Just sugar, cream, milk and your mix ins.  No other junk.  Sweet and clean and pure.

Home Made Moose Tracks 

makes about 1 quart

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Reeses mini's, cut in half
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4-1/3 cup chocolate sauce

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup cream and sugar.  Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the middle and drop that into the pot.  Throw your vanilla bean pod into your sugar jar.  You will have wonderful vanilla sugar.  Cook cream mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine the rest of the cream, the milk, and vanilla extract.  Pour in the hot cream and sugar mixture.  Stir to combine.  Cover by pressing plastic wrap directly onto the mixture and refrigerate until completely cool, preferably overnight.  (The cooler the cream, the easier it is for the ice cream maker to make, which leads to more consistent sized crystals which equals better mouthfeel).

The next day, chop cup your Reese's cups and throw them in the freezer for 20 minutes or so.  This helps prevent them from being totally crushed.  While you are waiting, make this chocolate sauce or if you are using your favorite store bought brand of chocolate sauce, check your email.

Churn ice cream according to manufacturer's instructions.  During the last 5 minutes of churning, toss in the Reese's cups and chocolate chips.

In your final ice cream container (the one that is going into the freezer), drizzle chocolate sauce on the bottom and sides of the container.  Scoop 1/4 of ice cream into container.  Drizzle with more chocolate sauce.  Scoop more ice cream on top, drizzle more sauce.  Repeat until all the ice cream is used.  Freeze for a couple more hours until firm.  When you scoop the ice cream, you will now have chocolate "ribbons" in the ice cream.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Test Kitchen Tuesday-Mulberry Jam

I lived in my house for 5 whole years before realizing the tree dropping all of the pesky purple fruit was a mulberry tree and that mulberries were actually quite tasty.  I now make a habit of popping a few ripe ones off the tree each time I spin around the tree on the mower.

Picking mulberries by hand is a huge pain in the you know what.  Our neighbor recommended laying a sheet out on the ground and shaking the tree.  That is what we did and the those dark purple beauties just popped off the tree...along with a lot of other tree crud.

Needless to say, when you are entering into the world of mulberries, you are signing yourself up for some work.  I tried to shortcut some of the work and well, this jam ended up on Test Kitchen Tuesday rather than just a regular, ole, you should totally make this jam post.

Mulberry Jam

8 cups mulberries, cleaned of all their tree crud
2 cups granulated sugar
9 tablespoons lemon juice
12 tablespoons pectin

I mixed together the mulberries and sugar and allowed them to macerate overnight.  Upon further reading, when using powdered pectin, you should also mix in the pectin during this step.

The next day, over medium heat, mix together berries, lemon juice and pectin.  I cooked it until the pectin had set and the jam was very thick, about 20 minutes.  This jam was very very thick.  There was way too much pectin in this recipe.  Also upon further reading, most people only use about half of the amount suggested on the bottle.

Also, it would have probably benefitted the fruit to have been run through a sieve.  The jam ended up being large chunks of the whole fruit, complete with seeds and stems (that I failed to pluck off).  Taste wise, this jam is really quite good.  The lemon juice really brightens up the otherwise one dimensional flavor of the berries.

Hopefully, there is enough berries on my bush to try this again.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Football Cupcakes

I made these a few weeks ago for my brother-in-law's birthday.  My brother-in-law loves both football and strawberry rhubarb so I thought I might try and combine them in one place.  And since last year he got a watery mess of a strawberry rhubarb pie, I thought that place should be cake.

My brother-in-law is a good guy, a wonderful husband to my sister and an even better dad.  A few weeks before, we were at a family event at my house, and my nephew, who is potty training, had a bit of an accident while sitting on my brother-in-law's lap.  The result: it looked like my BIL had wet his pants.  He just took it in stride while I was laughing my head off.

Don't worry, I got mine a few hours later when my nephew peed on my couch.   Too much excitement for the day.

These cupcakes seem like a lot of steps, but really, because we are using a box mix and Cool Whip, there isn't too much too them.  The jam is the hardest part and it is easy enough to sub in store bought jam.  But if you have the extra time and patience, making your own is well worth it.


  • 1 vanilla cake mix of your choosing
  • ingredients required to complete the cake (eggs, oil, water)

Mix up cake batter as directed on the box.  Pour into cupcake papers and bake as directed.  Allow to cool completely.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam adapted from Food In Jars

  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and diced
  • 1 pound frozen rhubarb, thawed
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
In a large bowl, mix together strawberries, thawed rhubarb and sugar.  Allow to macerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.  In a large, non-reactive saucepan over medium heat pour in strawberry-rhubarb mixture.  Scrape the insides of the vanilla bean into the pan.  Cook jam, stirring constantly for about 25 minutes.  The fruit will break down and the jam will thicken.  The jam is done cooking when it becomes very thick and when you scrape your spoon across the pan and it makes a sizzling sound.  Remove from heat.  Stir in vanilla extract.

At this point, you can waterbath can the jam for 10 minutes or you can put it in a jar and stick it in the fridge for a few weeks.  This recipe makes more jam than needed for the cream, but it tastes so good on toast it won't hang out long.

Strawberry Rhubarb Cream

  • 1 1/2 cups Cool Whip
  • 1/2 cup strawberry rhubarb jam

Fold the jam into the Cool Whip.  1/2 cup of jam give a fairly subtle strawberry rhubarb flavor when piped into the cupcake.  For more pop, add more jam.  To fill the cupcakes, I used this tip.  However, if you do not have this tip, simply use a paring knife to cut a small shallow circle in the top of the cupcake and spoon the cream in the top.  Pipe frosting over the hole filled with cream.

Vanilla Buttercream

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • pinch of salt (use regular table salt if you are going to be piping the grass with a Wilton #233 tip
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 pounds powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Green gel food coloring (I used a combination of Wilton Kelly green and Leaf green)
On high speed, beat butter until smooth, light, and fluffy.  Add in salt and vanilla.  Beat to combine.  Lower the mixer speed and gradually add in the powdered sugar and beat until combined.  While you are beating in the sugar, the frosting will be getting thick.  Add in water 1 tablespoon at a time to thin it just a bit.  In order to have grass that stands up straight, you want a fairly thick icing.  If you thin it too much, the grass blades will flop over.  Add food coloring as desired.  Remember that liquid food coloring will thin your icing even further.  Use Wilton tip #233 to pipe grass on cupcakes.

Footballs and Goal Posts

  • 1/2 package milk chocolate Candy Melts
  • 1/2 package white chocolate Candy Melts
To make the footballs:  Pour milk chocolate Candy Melts into a heatproof bowl.  Microwave candy for 20 second intervals, stirring the candy between each interval.  I find it easiest to pipe the chocolate when it is a bit thicker so don't melt the candy too much.  If it is too hot, it becomes too runny and you will have a much harder time piping.  Prepare a piping bag with a Wilton #3 tip and fill with milk chocolate.  Pipe football shaped candies onto a sheet of wax paper.  Allow to dry.  I allowed mine to dry overnight, but probably you only need to wait about an hour.

To make the goalposts:  Melt white chocolate in the same way you  melted the milk chocolate.  Prepare a piping bag with a coupler and a Wilton #1 piping tip.  Pipe details on dry chocolate footballs.  Change tip to Wilton #3 and pipe goal posts onto wax paper.  Allow to dry.  Decorate cupcakes with footballs and goalposts.

You can probably do this piping step without having any piping bags and tips if you use a Ziplock bag and cut a very small hole.  I, however, did not try this so I cannot verify for you. To make things even simpler, you could also use these candies instead of piping your own footballs.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Oh, The Time Suck That Is Pinterest...

I confess, I love Pinterest.  There is something so wonderful and inspirational about looking at all of these crafty, clever things that other people have made.  I furiously repin things to my own board, determined to do everything from make my own deodorant to having crafty decorations for every holiday.  (Oh yeah, I work full time...that's no big deal right)?

It's tricky, because I do  love trying new and interesting things, especially when it comes to eating (actually just dessert, poor David is in charge of the real food).  But eventually, what I realized about Pinterest, is that I hardly ever actually try anything that I find on there.

So, I am going to try to make some things I have pinned.  Perfect.  I have looked at my pin for these chocolate chip stuffed raspberries for weeks.  I am going to do this.  Raspberries are in season, I have them in my fridge, I always have chocolate chips.  Yes, this is happening.

Ok, side note, I just clicked over there to find a link to what I am talking about and somebody repinned a recipe for homemade floam!  I LOVED floam when I was a kid and now I just spent 10 minutes learning how to make it and wondering if in fact I can grate packing peanuts when I don't even have any kids... also, who has time to grate blessed packing peanuts!

I then realized, what the heck am I going to do with a bowl full of raspberries stuffed with chocolate chips?  Do you take that to a party?  Do you know how many raspberries I would have to stuff with chocolate chips to take to a party?  And then, upon arrival, my friends would look at me like, did you seriously just stuff a whole bowl of raspberries with chocolate chips?  I clicked on my pin to find the link, but of course it was a dead link.  Perfect.

Maybe I could just make them for a snack for myself.  So I set upon that adventure.  For starters, the Ghiradelli chip that I like are to big for a raspberry.  So I go and dig out the regular ones.  After literally about 5 raspberries, I realized how much easier it would be to just pop a handfull of raspberries and a hand full of chocolate chips in my mouth.  Actually, a great snack.  And I will be deleting that pin, because it makes no sense what so ever for me to stuff raspberries with chocolate chips.

Chocolate Chip Stuffed Raspberries

  • 5 chocolate chips
  • 5 raspberries

Take 1 chocolate chip and 1 raspberry.  Stuff the chocolate chip into the raspberry.  Repeat until exasperated.  Toss a handfull of chocolate chips in your mouth with a handull of raspberries.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Test Kitchen Tuesday-Cookie On The Grill Failure...

I've decided to do a new series called Test Kitchen Tuesdays, where I will share some works in progress.  Most of the time I only like to share things where I have finally figured it out, but I learn a lot from my many mistakes and so I thought by sharing them, you might too.

A couple weeks ago, David and I had the good fortune to visit Boulder, Colorado to do a bit of climbing, a bit of visiting, and quite a lot of eating.  Southern Sun is the wonderful micorbrewery/pub where climbers like to hang out.  The food is delicious and the I hear the beer is quite tasty too.  But recently, in the building underneath, Under the Sun opened up (and by recently, I mean sometime since the last time we were in Boulder some 2 summers ago).

We hit Southern Sun early in the week after a long day of climbing, so on Friday night, we decided to try Under the Sun.  The was a long wait for a table, but policy indicated that you could sit at the bar if a seat opened up and get full service.  We were fortunate enough that two seats opened up right in front of the brick oven where we could watch them make homemade pizza.

One of the owners was there, making pizza and we were able to geek out for a few minutes about dough and fermentation time and shaping the crust.  Our pizza was to die for, a fancy pizza with pepper fig jam, spicy aruglua, and goat cheese.

We were completely filled up after our meal, but one menu item that really intrigued me was the brick oven baked oatmeal cookie (complete with ice cream and stout caramel sauce).  For some reason, it had never occurred to me to make anything like a cookie in a brick oven.

Well, we certainly do not have a brick oven, but I wondered how well you could grill a cookie.  (After all, wouldn't it be lovely if you could make your whole meal out on the grill in the summer?  No need to deem cookies fall and winter only foods because you do not want to turn on the oven in the heat of the summer).  Turns out, on our first attempt, not very well!  I made chocolate chip oatmeal cookies and cooked them on a tiny cast iron skillet.  The bottom became way way overdone while the top was still a bit raw.

Things I could do differently to try for success:
-different kind of cookie
-more indirect heat
-heating the pan on the grill before putting the cookie on the pan

Back to the drawing board.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

So, they're not red, white, and blue.  They're not cute or stunning.  They are just humble brownies from a box dressed up with some peanut butter frosting and mini peanut butter cups.  But, I promise, if you take these to your 4th of July picnic, you will not bring any back home.

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies


1 box brownie mix of your choice and whatever ingredients (oil, eggs, and water) the box requires
(I used the Pilsbury mix that makes a 9x13 pan of brownies)
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips

Mix together brownie mix, eggs, oil and water.  Fold in the peanut butter and chocolate chips.  Bake brownies according to the box directions.  Allow to cool.

Peanut Butter Buttercream

1/2 cup butter softened
1/2 cup peanut butter (regular, not natural)
4 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons milk to thin frosting
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Beat together butter and peanut butter until smooth.  Mix in the vanilla.  Slowly beat in the powdered sugar.  Add the milk one tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.  I like to have a soft smooth spreadable frosting.

Spread frosting on cooled brownies.  Sprinkle Reeses minis on top as desired.  I used about 5 ounces of the minis on the 9x13 pan.

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