Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Strawberry Rice Crispy Treats

We're really getting into the big eating season aren't we?  It feels like it was Halloween just a few days ago and here we are, the day before Thanksgiving.  The malls have already started decorating for Christmas and the Short Hills mall has set up a big Ice Age pavillion for photographs, it's a nice non-denominational set since we have such a diverse population here in Northern New Jersey.

It might come as a surprise to you, but I won't be cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year.  In fact, I won't even be eating a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  I'll be going out to a restaurant with Boyfriend and his parents (the in-laws!).  Since I'm not cooking dinner, I took to the kitchen this weekend and made some treats for my coworkers.  There were chocolate chip cookies, two French silk pies and these little pink beauties.

These are strawberry rice krispy treats.  Made the simple way.  In the past, I have made flavored rice krispy treats using homemade marshmallows.  When I wanted to make flavored treats this weekend, I didn't have the energy to whip up a batch of marshmallows, let them cure and finally prepare the krispy treats.  What I needed was a potent source of natural flavor.  Dehydrated strawberries were the perfect solution.

A little tricky to find (I got my dehydrated strawberries at Whole Foods), I sometimes find myself eating these little gems like potato chips.  Luckily I had set aside a bag of berries for the purpose of making strawberry macarons.  Instead, they made their way into these marshmallow treats and they packed a flavor punch.

Seriously deep with strawberry flavor, the dehydrated berries were the perfect solution to making flavored rice krispy treats without all the fuss.  I'm searching the health food stores for other dehydrated fruits that I can put into my next batch.  I've already found freeze-dried pears and pineapples.  What else is out there?  dehydrated blueberries, apples, beef?  Okay, maybe no to beef-flavored rice krispy treats.

I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving, whether you are cooking, being cooked for or having pizza.  I've had dessert already, so as long as I can score myself some turkey, it will be a good day!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Why Bother? 2012 - Nut Butters

With only a few Why Bother? challenges remaining, I think I have found my favorite.  Nut Butters!  I don't know why I put this challenge so far into the year.  It may have had something to do with a lack of fresh produce?  I have no idea.  Perhaps I thought I could use said nut butters in the upcoming holiday cookies?  If not, that is exactly what I plan to do with some of these but butters.

When it comes down to it, store bought peanut butter isn't that expensive, isn't seasonal and has a classic flavor that is difficult to reproduce.  There was no way that I would be trying to replicate a jar of JIF or Skippy.  First of all, I don't have the right equipment in my kitchen to make a creamy peanut butter that smooth.  Would I really want to anyways?  Those creamy peanut butters are packed full of sugar and salt.  What I wanted to try and copy was a store bought jar of natural peanut butter.

If you compare servings of JIF and a natural peanut butter, you'll be looking at two things with roughly the same number of calories.  Natural peanut butter has a much more pronounceable ingredient list.  Usually these jars contain just peanuts, salt and maybe a little oil.  An ingredient list like that makes for something that can easily be made at home.

One thing, I didn't want to make plain old simple peanut butter.  I wanted fancy peanut butter and that's just what I made.  I present to you, White chocolate peanut butter.  I've been enjoying this spread on top of waffles for breakfast and by the spoonful at any time of the day.

I didn't stop with peanut butter though.  My favorite nut is the walnut.  I'm my fathers child when it comes to the fact.  He requests each and every cookie that my mom makes, contain walnuts.  I'll toss walnuts in my cookies, quick breads, pasta sauces and salads.  My love of walnuts drove me to take a pound of walnuts and feed them to the food processor.  The outcome was simply amazing.  Spiked with a bit of cinnamon, the cinnamon walnut butter I created tastes just like the holidays.  This stuff is destined for a batch of cookies, I can't wait.

What is your favorite nut?  Have you thought of whipping up a batch of your favorite nut butter?  Almonds, pecans, cashews.  These would all make amazing spreads, have a go at it with your food processor!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Brookie Sandwiches

Things are getting back to normal in the Wilde household.  Last week I stayed with friends on Long Island so that I could get to work without spending more than six hours a day commuting.  I learned how to play Texas hold-em (I know, I'm the last person in the world to learn), got to sleep until 7:30am and baked banana bread at night. 

This week, the Long Island trains normalized and boyfriend offered to drive me to Secaucus junction.  It meant that he had to wake up an hour early and work an extra long day to pick me up on the way home.  Isn't he sweet?  By Tuesday, New Jersey transit opened up the Midtown direct connection and trains were running only three miles from my house and come Wednesday I was taking my normal train, albiet at an unusual time. 

I'm excited to be back in my apartment and sleeping in my bed.  Boyfriend in enjoying his extra shut eye.  Hopefully my Long Island friends will be happy when I bring them cookies.  My kitchen is happy to have me back, or sad because I'm going to make it messy again.  I'm not really sure.  Come by this weekend for the nut butter "Why Bother 2012" challenge post.  With living in Long Island and weekending in Montreal, I haven't had a chance to get back into my kitchen!

If you have been affected by the hurricane, I hope that things are getting back to normal for you.  So many of my friends just got power back this Sunday!  If you were outside of the storms path, I hope you are almost ready for Thanksgiving.  I can't believe it's next week!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Wilde in Montreal

No recipe today.  Why?  I was kidnapped this weekend!  Don't worry too much, Boyfriend did the kidnapping and it was a surprise for my birthday.

This weekend I celebrated my 31st birthday!  It was a very long week and I was looking forward to celebrating and having some good old New Jersey fun with BF.  I had spent the week with friends on Long Island due to the major problems with New Jersey transit.  Mid-week the coast was hit by a Noreaster and we woke up to 9 inches of snow.  At least all of our meetings at work had been cancelled while everyone recouped from the hurricane.

Friday night I made my way back to New Jersey, meeting BF at the Secaucus train station.  He handed me a birthday present and told me to open it right away.  Along with a sparkly bag filled with costume jewelry, there was a card.  It said to dust off my French language skills and get ready to fly away to Montreal! 

We celebrated my birthday weekend eating lots of delicious foods, walking around Old Montreal and riding Le Metro.  I thought I would share some of my phone pictures and try to convince you to make a trip to the Great White North.  And don't worry too much if your French isn't up for public debut, most everyone I met spoke perfect English.  In fact, they sounded like New Yorkers.

One of the most interesting colas I've ever had.  A traditional cola flavor with the aftertaste of christmas.
(At Lapin Presse - Cafe & Grillcheeserie)
Patisserie Rhubarbe offered a great brunch, but we decided to just pick up a Tarte Citron for dessert.

Montreal has so many beautiful churches, including a Notre Dame of its own

Marche Jean-Talon, I wish this was my neighborhood market

A trip to a French region isn't complete without a box of macarons. (La Maison du Macaron)

Poutine - a reason in itself to visit Montreal.  Fries, curd cheese & gravy

Look how open Le Metro is!  The NYC subway feels so cramped in comparison.

Tim Hortons - a Canadian tradition!

I may have gained a few pounds this weekend.  I can't imagine why!

Bonne Anniversaire a Moi!  Now plan your trip to Montreal.  They have beautiful summers and looked to be a beautiful place to spend the holidays.  Pack an extra scarf.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Pumpkin Cookies with Chocolate Chunks

Things around here are slowly getting back to normal. Yes, I've only been to work two days out of the past seven. Sure, my train line was washed out and will take weeks to fix. And yeah, BF had to wait in a long line this morning to get gas (it's an odd day, so he could fill up today). I can't complain because so many others are so much worse off.

Since I live in New Jersey and work on Long Island, I wasn't able to get to work last week. The one day I tried it took me four and a half hours to get there in the morning and five and a half hours to get home. Not a recipe for a happy girl. I was forced to work from home. Which, if you're a lab scientist, is very difficult to do. You run out of things to do rather quickly. I spent some of my work hours baking and working out. Between thinking about science and reading literature of course.

I made it to work yesterday in a record breaking tree hours. I have since taken a friend up on their offer to stay at their place on the island until train service becomes tolerable. I've been told that it's okay and encouraged for me to bake while at their house.

It's kind offers like these that I've seen throughout this disaster. Friends, neighbors and strangers helping each other. Humanity really shines when times are tough and people in the tri-state area are looking pretty bright. Stay tough everyone out there, things aren't great right now, but they'll get better.

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