8.28.2013

S'mores Rice Krispie Treats

.  Hi all!

Like I promised, I do have one last [what I would call] summer goodie for you all.  And after this week, things will start to once again get a little crazy around here, so we might as well get right to it.


I actually made these rice krispie treats a couple of weeks back for our dog sitter when I went back to Omaha for Hollyann's wedding shower [pictures and details to come, just one of the many things I'd like to fill everyone in on!].  Having never met the dog sitter, who literally stayed in our apartment all weekend watching the pups, I felt like something 'classic' would be my best bet.  And be it the end of the summer and they hadn't made their 2013 debut yet, s'mores it was!

Unfortunately, these krispie treats got some mixed reviews.  Half of the people absolutely chowed them, while a select few said they were a bit bland.  Bland in that the rice krispie part didn't have enough chocolatey flavor.  But I guess I thought a whole cup of chocolate chips in an 8x8-inch pan would suffice...!


My personal opinion?  When it gets down to it, if you like regular rice krispie treats, then you will most definitely like these addicting suckers.  Let's review why...

I loved the chewy yet crunchy rice krispie bar studded with chocolate chips and graham cracker pieces and roasted 'mallows nestled within each and every bite.  And did I mention that ooey-gooey pull apart-ness you can only get with the one and only rice krispie treat?  And since summer is nearly over, this summer classic with a twist is truly a perfect way to end the season.


Anywho, as I mentioned above, our schedules are about to get hectic once again.  There seemed to be a lull of about...a week...but starting this weekend we're back at it.  I'll be heading to MN to see the fam-bam while Robbie will be heading down south to Winfield, KS, for his cousin's wedding.  A couple of weeks following the long Labor Day weekend, we'll be heading to Omaha for Robbie's friend's wedding and Danny's baptism.  Then the next weekend we'll be heading right back to Omaha for Hollyann's wedding reception.  After that final weekend in early October, things should slow down a bit before the whirlwind of holidays hits.  And along the way, things will probably start to focus a little more on us and our own wedding we have yet to plan.

Whew.  2013, you've been a ride!  .


Adapted from The Baker Chick

Ingredients:
3 c. rice krispie cereal
4 graham cracker sheets, broken into bite-sized pieces
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1 (10 oz.) bag mini marshmallows
3 tbsp. butter

Directions:
  1. Spray an 8x8-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the rice krispie cereal, graham cracker pieces, and chocolate chips.  Reserve 1 cup of mini marshmallows and set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter.  Add remaining marshmallows and stir until mixture is thick and marshmallows are completely melted.
  4. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the large bowl with the rice krispie mixture and use a spatula to stir it all together.  Press into an even layer in the prepared pan.
  5. Turn on the oven broiler.  Evenly spread the reserved marshmallows over the top of the rice krispie bars.  Place under the broiler for a couple of minutes or until the marshmallows are golden brown [watch carefully!] and remove from oven.
  6. Allow bars to cool in the fridge for half an hour before serving.
Yield: 16 bars


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8.17.2013

Blackberry-Blueberry Scones with Honey-Butter Glaze

.  Well sadly...summer is a-windin' down.  Even though we really didn't have a summer though, I guess.  So regardless that it's nearly September, it seems odd to me that the weather has already begun to cool.  Fall is by far my most favorite season so I'm not complaining one bit.  But I will admit that I did miss the summer heat that never seemed to show.  Oh well...


But like I mentioned before, I have a couple of 'summer' treats that I have to pump out before it gets too late.  Because we all know that once August hits, it's officially Fall baking season.  So pumpkin, spices, apples, and more pumpkin, are fair game.  Watch out peeps.


So for one of my last summery goodies, I must say that we're leaving the season with a b.a.n.g.  Or in other words, this is a legit scone that even Robbie enjoyed [i.e., he's not a bready fan, so scones are one of his least favorite things].  


But lucky for you, me and Robbie, these are one of the most unique scones I've had to date because the flavor combination of fresh, tart, juicy blackberries and blueberries with the thick, sweet, salty taste of the Honey-Butter Glaze?  Well, dyyyyyamn.

And we all know that scones get a bad wrap because they don't seem to keep very long [i.e., they get crumbly and somewhat stale].  But the secret to keeping these scrumptious scones fresh for days?


That Honey-Butter Glaze.

If you happen to sneak a bite of the scones straight out of the oven [pre-glazed], you'll first realize how incredibly delicious this buttery, fruity goodie is just by itself.   But slathering the salty-sweet combination of honey-butter over the fresh scones seems to lock in all of that moist goodness.  And no doubt adds an extra flavor element to make this one of the best scones I've ever eaten.  Let alone produced out of my very own kitchen.  BOOM!


To leave you all, it's officially Robbie's birthday weekend so I'll be spending the next couple of days tending to his every need.  Oh, is that different from other days around here though...?

Just kidding ☺ But we will be out and about and his brother, Danny, will be joining us Sunday for the day, so we definitely have a packed weekend ahead of us!  Hope you enjoy your days off as you please, until next time!  .


Ingredients:
Blackberry-Blueberry Scones:
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 c. heavy whipping cream
3-1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 c. cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. frozen blueberries 
1/2 c. frozen blackberries
Milk (for brushing)

Honey-Butter Glaze:
1/3 c. honey
1/4 c. unsalted butter

Directions:
  1. Put lemon juice into a liquid measuring cup and add heavy whipping cream to the 1 cup mark.  Let stand for a few minutes to make soured cream.  
  2. Heat oven to 425°F.  Arrange oven rack to upper third position.  Spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or line with parchment paper; set aside.
  3. In a food processor, add flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda and blend briefly.  Add butter and pulse to make coarse mixture.  Turn out mixture to a large bowl and make a well in the center.  Add egg, vanilla extract, and enough soured cream to make a soft but firm dough.  Gently fold in blueberries and blackberries.
  4. Turn out dough to lightly floured surface and knead briefly to make a firm dough.  Pat out dough into 1-inch thick circle.  Cut dough into wedges or rounds and place on prepared baking sheet.  Brush each scone with milk.
  5. Bake 16 to 19 minutes or until scones are nicely browned.  
  6. While scones are baking, make the glaze by heating honey and butter in a liquid measuring cup until melted mixture is simmering (about 1-1/2 minutes).  Brush scones with honey-butter glaze as they come out of the oven.  Let scones cool for about 15 minutes before brushing on honey-butter glaze once more.
Yield: 1 dozen scones

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8.09.2013

Strawberry Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting

.  The day has finally come.


The day where I actually have a recipe for you all!  And lucky for you, it's a good one.  One that I've had for quite some time but for whatever reason hasn't made it's debut on LSM.  Shame on me...

But like most things these days, summer has absolutely slipped by me.  Can you ba-lieve it's August already?  Good grief.  So with that realization, I knew I had to get my butt in gear and whip up some posts of a couple of summer treats I've made [yes, I've actually baked lately!].  And since it's been far too long since a recipe has popped up, let's jump right into this cupcake.


I first made these summery cupcakes a long time ago [probably about a year ago, but who's keeping track?] for a work fundraiser alongside the Nutella Cloud Cupcakes.  And surprisingly, these cupcakes were a smash.

I say 'surprisingly' because I honestly didn't know how the Mascarpone Frosting was going to bode.  If you've never had Mascarpone before [and at that time I hadn't], it's comparable to cream cheese but with a sweeter taste.  And the whole flavor difference is what caught me by surprise, so I wasn't sure many other people would care for it.  But I was dead. wrong.


So what's to love about them, you ask?  Let's start with that cake.  The base is a moist, buttery vanilla cupcake, studded with chunks of sweet, fresh strawberry pieces.  Rounding out this baked  goodie is the aforementioned Mascarpone Frosting.  You know that combination of things like Carrot Cake or Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Frosting?  Two things that just go together?  Well that's the only way I can describe this pairing of strawberries and mascarpone [frosting].  They're simply meant to be and combined together into one mouthwatering cupcake?  Priceless.

And so with this all in mind, I chose to whip up a batch of these cupcakes as the official introduction of my baking problem to our dog walker and the front desk employees in our new building.  And without going into too many details, they couldn't stop talking about them.  Even a week later, one of the front desk men mentioned them to me.  I'll leave it at that!


So enough of my babbling.  I'm heading to Omaha this evening to co-host Hollyann's wedding shower, so I have some packing to finish up!  And while I do that, I trust you'll do your part by making a lovely, summery batch of Strawberry Cupcakes.  

Happy baking!  Happy weekend!  .

My Notes:
  • Be sure to completely cool the cupcakes before frosting, otherwise the frosting will melt and drip right off.


Ingredients:
Strawberry Cupcake:
1-1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into chunks
2 eggs
1/2 c. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. strawberries, washed, hulled, and chopped

Mascarpone Frosting:
4-1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 oz. mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
3/4 c. powdered sugar
12 whole strawberries (for decorating, optional)

Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 325°F.  Line a standard cupcake pan with liners; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Mix on low to aerate the mixture.  Add butter and turn mixer on low briefly, just until the butter pieces are coated with flour.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla extract.  Add egg mixture in three additions to the dry ingredients, mixing on low just until it comes together after each addition,  Gently fold in strawberries with a spatula or wooden spoon.
  4. Divide mixture evenly between cupcake liners.  Bake 15-17 minutes or until cupcakes are firm when lightly touched on top. Cool cupcakes completely on a wire rack.
  5. For frosting, beat butter in a large bowl on high speed until butter is light and fluffy.  Add mascarpone cheese and beat on medium speed just until blended.  Sift the powdered sugar over the butter and mascarpone mixture and beat on medium speed just until smooth (do not overwork this frosting because the mascarpone can separate).   Refrigerate frosting at least 30 minutes before using.
  6. When cupcakes are completely cooled, frost as desired.  Top each cupcake with one whole strawberry, if using.  
Yield: 1 dozen cupcakes

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8.02.2013

An Assortment of Things

LSM was intended to be a baking blog. 

But lately it's been a 'let's update everyone on Jess' life' blog.  And I'm sorry.  But there's just been quite a bit going on in my life as of late and of course I want to share it with anyone and everyone.  So stick with me for this post [and surely some more...].  But I promise that at the end of it all, I'll have some recipes for you.  Because in the midst of this hectic time, I have been able to steal some time away in the kitchen.  And thank the good Lord for that!

So my general goal in this post is to update you [yes, more updating!] on some of the things going on at the moment: moving into our new place, starting a new job, engagements, and my own wedding.  So let's get to it.

First, moving into our new place.


Well...we LOVE it.  Or technically, I love it.  Robbie hasn't yet transferred up to Chicago so I've been living in the big city with me, myself, and I, since we moved in about two weeks ago.  And of course, Graham and Tilly are here.  We're living at 500 Lake Shore Drive in the Streeterville area and this uber dog friendly area has been absolutely perfect.  Graham and Tilly meet new friends every day on the numerous walks they get to take and there's never a dull moment in the streets of Chicago.  So I have noticed that they're much more tired than usual.  Which is a good thing!  And did I mention that while I'm at work [which we'll get to in a second] a dog walker comes every afternoon to take them outside.  Spoiled little stinkers...

Now as for the reason I'm even in Chicago: work.  I started in my new job at TTX [still the railroad industry] about a week and a half ago.  And if I could tell you what has happened in those short few days then I would.  But I barely remember the whirlwind that I call my first week.  Despite a rather ordinary first day of orientation, meeting people, and just getting a feel for the building, everything else seems to have been in fast forward.  In a good way though.  I've already been involved in a couple of projects and the whole ease-her-into-the-job thing has seem to come and gone [after the first day].  But I can't complain, it's been exciting, interesting, and fast paced, and I can already tell there's more than enough to learn here.  Can't ask for much more, right?!


But now for the fun stuff.

I'm sure you noticed that I mentioned an engagement occured, so let's not hold out on this any longer because I couldn't be more ecstatic for this monumental life event.  It's been a long time in the making and now I can finally shout out that my forever bestie, Mel...

GOT ENGAGED!

I know I've mentioned her on LSM before because this girl and I have been through it all together: the awkward stages in high school, finding ourselves during the glorious and stressful collegiate years, lending shoulders to cry on when our hearts were broken, sharing in each other's life accomplishments.  And yet through it all, even the constant distance, our friendship has never faltered. 

And now through some divine intervention, Mel and I will be sharing our engagements together.  Which means...wedding planning! 

It's still quite hard to believe, actually, that the two of us will be sharing such an asbolutely special time in our life together.  I mean, c'mon, could the planets have aligned any more perfectly?!  But I guess we only have our dear fiance's to thank for that, now don't we?

And since we're on the subject of Mel and our weddings, let's get to my last point for this post:  MY wedding!

I've put up a couple of updates here and there regarding mine and Robbie's engagement, but let's get real.  The second we found out we were moving to Chicago in the span of two weeks, wedding planning got put on about the 9th back burner.  But now that things have slowed to only high-wind speed, wedding shenanigans is starting to creep it's way forward again. 

So needless to say about zilch, nuttin', nada, has occurred wedding wise in the past few weeks.  Except for one thing...

The all important wedding party.

Yes, them.  The people who have helped shape us into the people we are today, the ones [family or not] who we can always count on to be there, and the ones who will keep us all sane on the wedding day.

Our wedding party has basically been picked out since the week we got engaged, but I had to hold out on everyone because I really wanted to conjure up a special way to ask each of my bridesmaids to be in our wedding.  Cut me slack, this only happens once in a girls life, so I wanted to do it right!

And here's what I came up with.


I found some lovely cards on Etsy, each with the bridesmaids name and a neat little saying asking them to be a part of our special day.  I also found some pretty, yet simple cherry wood hangers with a wire running through the middle that was molded into the name of each bridesmaid.  My thought was that they could all bring their hangers on the wedding day to hang their dresses.  I thought it would make for a good picture, don't you think?! So those two things together were sent to each of the six wonderful woman I will have the honor of standing by my side on our big day.  And thankfully, they all said yes ☺

You'd think the names of my bridesmaids [and Robbie's groomsmen] would be next in order.  But in [my weak] tradition, I'm sending you off to our Knot wedding website where you can you can read about [and see a couple of pics!] of our wedding party.  Maybe I'm bias, but we couldn't have a chosen a group of more genuine, fun-loving, and just plain good people.  They're the ones who will truly make our day special.

WHEW!  So that's it for now.  My fingers hurt from typing.  But believe it or not, I have another announcement I can't wait to share with you all that just happened this week.  So until next time!  .

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