Showing posts with label coconut. Show all posts
Showing posts with label coconut. Show all posts

Monday, June 22, 2015

J@H - Homemade Snoballs

I'm a few challenges behind on my Junk at Home 2015 challenge, due to travel and work, so I thought I should get back to it with a bang! This week I was scheduled to make my own version of Hostess coconut snowballs and I decided to make it all from scratch.

Even though I had to made four different things for this recipe, it all came together pretty quickly. Aside from the shredded coconut, you probably already have all of the ingredients in your pantry. Well, as long as you're a baker, if you don't bake a lot you may need to head to the grocery story for a few things (unsweetened chocolate, marshmallow creme, Greek yogurt).

While you can get Snoballs at the store once again, you should definitely try making them at home. It's so much fun! Look at these adorable little purple puffs! The colored coconut is so easy to make. Simply place a bag of sweetened, shredded coconut into a large zip top bag. Add a drop of gel food coloring and squish it around until the coconut is evenly colored. Alternatively, you can add the coconut and food coloring to a food processor and pulse until the color is even and the coconut is slightly smaller.

The big question - do they taste like the original? With the combination of marshmallow, coconut and chocolate, there is no way for these to taste like anything else! This was definitely a winner in my book.

Two Years Ago: Strawberry Bacon Pizza
Three Years Ago: Pesto-Yogurt Chicken
Four Years Ago: Baked Pasta Casserole

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Junk @ Home 2015 - Girl Scout Samoas (aka Caramel delights)

Call them Samoas, call them Caramel delights, whatever you choose to call them and wherever you live in America, they are delicious. I just wrote that they are devilious. Yeah, that's totally (not) a real word and it applies to these cookies. Because they make you want to eat the entire box! So devilious...


I added these cookies to my Junk at Home challenge because they were highly requested during my oh-so-official poll in December. People love Girl Scout cookies and they want access to them year round.

I hate to tell people, for fear that they will blame me when they gain forty pounds, but two varieties of Girl Scout cookies are available year round. Thin Mints and Samoas.

The same factory that produces Samoas and Thin Mints, also produces a Keebler-branded version of each cookie - the Grasshopper and the Coconut Dream. They are the exact same cookie. You can buy these any time you want, so long as you are at a grocery store. But if it's Girl Scout cookie season, be sure to buy from those cuties. Yes, even though they cost like $85 a box now. (Price of cookies when little Vicki sold cookies? $2.25/box. True story.)

Since you can buy the legit, original cookie anywhere, anytime, and there are dozens of recipes on other food blogs, I didn't want to make just any Samoa cookie. I made them a little bit more tasty, with more chocolate. And salted caramel. Enjoy.

Four Years Ago: Homemade Butterfinger Bars

Dark Chocolate, Salted Caramel Samoas
A Wilde Original

For the Cookies

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup natural cocoa powder
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Cream butter with sugar until fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add vanilla extract. Beat to combine. Sift in cocoa powder and all-purpose flour. Mix until smooth. Lay out a long sheet of plastic wrap. Pour dough onto plastic wrap and fold over. Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Place on a baking sheet and set in the fridge to chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Take dough from the fridge and stamp out donut-shaped cookies (using either a donut stamp or two circular cookie cutters. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes. Once baked, remove from the oven and let cool for 2 minutes on the pan. Carefully remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire cookie rack

For the Caramel topping

2 cups caramels, unwrapped (one entire bag of  Kraft Brand Caramels)
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups shredded coconut

Place caramels, heavy cream, kosher salt and vanilla in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir caramels until they are all melted and the mixture is smooth.  Using a spoon, coat the tops of the cookies with a thin layer of caramel.

Add coconut to the remaining caramel in the saucepan and stir to distribute. Use a spoon (and probably your fingers) spread coconut-caramel mixture over the cookies. Place cookies in the fridge to set up the caramel.

For the chocolate

1 cup dark chocolate chips

While the caramel is setting up in the fridge, melt chocolate using your preferred method. Easiest option is to place chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, pop in the microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring in between each 30 seconds.

Dip the bottoms of the cookies in melted chocolate, place cookies on wax paper. Once cookies are all dunked in chocolate, pour remaining melted chocolate in a squeezey bottle. Pipe stripes over your cookies. Place in the fridge to harden the chocolate.

Share with your friends.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cocomel Candy Bars

I have been going through a ton of sugar these past few weeks.  I've decided now is a good time of year to get back into candy making since it is the biggest candy eating season of the year! I need to head to the grocery store and stock up on sugar when it goes on sale.

Today we have a combination of two of my favorite candies - caramel and coconut!  These were not a good candy for my braces.  Shh, don't tell my orthodontist!  The coconut is crunchy and fluffy, while the caramel is smooth and sweet.  Just look at those little vanilla seeds dotting the caramel!  So adorable.

PS - these were delicious and totally worth the extra brushing.

One Year Ago: Visiting Montreal
Two Years Ago: Honey Roasted Peanut Butter Cookies
Three Years Ago: New England Cranberry Chutney

Adapted from Chocolate & Confections

For the Coconut layer

1 ounce (2 tablespoons) water
3 ounces (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) sugar
6 ounces (1/2 cup) corn syrup
8 ounces (2 cups) sweetened shredded coconut
1 ounce (1/4 cup) marshmallow creme

For the Caramel layer

1 ounce (2 tablespoons) water
4 ounces (1/2 cup) sugar
1/4 vanilla bean, split and scraped
3.5 ounces (1/3 cup) sweetened condensed milk
3 ounces (1/4 cup) corn syrup
1/5 ounces (3 tablespoons) butter, room temperature

1 pound chocolate

Coat an 8x8-inch pan with cooking spray and line with plastic wrap.

In a small 2-quart saucepan, combine water, sugar and corn syrup and clip on a candy thermometer.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the temperature reaches 246 ºF.  Remove from the heat and add coconut, stir until completely coated.  Add marshmallow creme and stir with a rubber spatula.  Pour candy mixture into the prepared pan and smooth out with an offset spatula.

Set a bowl of icey water next to the stove along with some spoons. In a 2-quart pot, combine water, sugar, vanilla bean, sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup and butter.  Stir while cooking over medium heat.  Clip on a candy thermometer and cook until temperature reaches 240 ºF.  Dip a spoon in the caramel mixture and plunge into the icey water for 5 seconds.  Test the caramel for hardness.  If it's still very liquidy, continue to cook until temperature reaches 245 ºF. Pour caramel over the coconut layer.  Let set for at least 2 hours.

Temper chocolate in a double boiler.  Once slab of candy is set, remove from the pan by pulling up on the plastic wrap.  Set on the counter, caramel side up.  Pour some of the tempered chocolate on top of the caramel and smooth out with an offset spatula.  Allow chocolate to set.

Flip candy slab over and peel off plastic wrap. Trim the edges so the slab is square.  Cut slab into 12 bars.  Place candy bars on a wire rack.  Pour tempered chocolate over the bars.  Garnish with extra shredded coconut if desired.  Once coated, move to a piece of parchment paper to set.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Banana Bread French Toast

I can't believe that it's been months since I shared a breakfast recipe!

I know exactly who is to blame, Boyfriend.  Okay, and me.  The guy I live with doesn't really care for breakfast and we usually spend our weekends at the Starbucks downtown.  Or the Panera around the corner.  Or if we're in a hurry, the Dunkin' Donuts two minutes from our apartment.  Rarely do I spend a Saturday morning frying up eggs, flipping pancakes and pouring tall glasses of orange juice.

The one positive with not having a job right now is being able to enjoy a delicious breakfast on a Tuesday morning!  Sure, I ate this French toast by myself while watching Charmed and sitting on the couch in my PJs, but that doesn't bother me!  At some point in the day I managed to take a shower and put on some real pants.  Then I had a second serving of French toast for lunch.

As long as I am unemployed, I think I'll enjoy making myself fancy breakfasts!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Coconut Key Lime Squares

I've never been so happy to see Thursday than I have this week!  Not that it has felt like a very long week, it's just been a very tiring one!  Coupled with the fact that I spent a long weekend in Buffalo, eating totally healthy food (aka - hot dogs, Buffalo wings and Perry's ice cream), I'm exhausted.  I even missed one of my scheduled runs for my half marathon training plan!  I'd make it up, but I'm tired.

This past weekend I headed to Buffalo for a few reasons.  1. It was my dad's birthday!  We enjoyed local hibachi at Shogun (ONION VOLCANO!) and ate Dessert Deli cake that was more chocolatey than just pouring chocolate syrup in your mouth.  2. Perry's Ice cream invited me to come visit them and eat ice cream!  And they told me I could bring someone.  I brought my dad, because it was his birthday and he loves their ice cream.  I'll talk more about our ice cream factory tour next week, what I want to talk about today is - my long run in Buffalo.

If you have been reading along, you'll know that I'm only three weeks out from my half marathon!  Each weekend I've been making longer and longer runs to help train for my eventual 13.1 miles in central park.  I've run 10K races in the past and never really trained for them.  BF and I ran a Spartan Super last year that wound up being 11 miles, we trained one day for that race and ate crossant sandwiches the morning of the race.  I decided that neither of these tactics would be a good idea for my upcoming half marathon, I wanted to do it right.

Knowing that it was still a little cold in Buffalo, I packed my new running hat and gloves and fuzzy running jacket.  The only thing I wasn't prepared for was snow.  Which it did on Friday, four inches worth of the white stuff.  I headed to my brothers house and used his treadmill for my 4 mile run.  But there was no way I was going to run 8 miles on a treadmill.  It's so boring!

Instead, I mapped my run online, trying to find the right route from my parents house that would give me an 8 mile loop.  It also had to avoid running up the highway overpass near their house.  I decided upon a route that was just longer than 8 miles and crossed only one 4-lane highway.  It was also on a series of roads that I grew up driving down.  I'm very familiar with the roads of my hometown and I know exactly when each road intersects.  This proved an amazing bonus when running.

Saturday morning, around 9:00am, I worked up the energy to go running.  I put on my layers, showed my mom how to track me with her phone, laced up my shoes and hit the road!  I ran past my High school best friends house, my first house that we moved out of when I was 5, my high school and first middle school.  At mile seven I ran past my brothers house and was on the home stretch!  I crossed the highway and my mile tracker called out the completion of my eighth mile.  Unfortunately, I was still a half mile from home.

After running 8.47 miles in 82 minutes and burning almost nine hundred calories, I had no qualms with eating a big slice of cake for dads birthday that night.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Homemade Granola

I love commuting on the train, but it's days like these that make me really wish I drove to work.  Or that I owned a car.  My imaginary car would have a fancy remote starter so that I could warm up the car (and of course its heated seats) while I finished primping for work. 

Instead, I pile on layer after layer of sweater, jacket, scarf, earmuffs, hats, gloves and mittens.  Yes, it takes me at least five minutes to get ready to go outside.  This is funny actually, because I spend as little time outside as possible.  NJTransit has this fancy "departurevision" section on their website.  It tells me how much longer I can stay in my warm apartment before the train rolls into the station.  Love it.

So what has this winter brought me?  A smaller pants size!  Seriously.  I spent two months out of this winter completely ill.  Bronchitis, sinusitis, cold after cold.  I spent two months eating soup and orange juice, or nothing at all because "eating takes too much energy."

The cold weather has helped me keep those ten pounds off.  How you might ask?  It's too cold to go out for lunch!  Why leave my cozy office and go outside to pick up a (fill in your favorite unhealthy lunch here) when I could stay in front of my (illegal) space heater eating a salad I threw together at home.  I'm thinking I'll put back on those pounds I lost during the summer, when it's warm enough to go and get piles of Thai food for lunch.

A girl does not stay full on salad alone though.  Around four o'clock, after running around the lab for a few hours, I indulge in... yogurt!  I know, I'm so bad.  But you should totally get yourself some yogurt and make this granola. 

Can you believe that in my year of homemade everything challenges, I'm only now making my own granola!  I feel like you can throw anything in with a whole ton of oats and you've got granola.  You could be all - "Hey, I made this macadamia nut, coconut and dried jalapeno pepper granola, it's so good for you!"  Or "What?  You haven't tried the new beef jerky and fried plantain granola?"  Just put some oats with anything and BAM - granola.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Why Bother? 2012 - Coconut Milk & Thai Chili Sauce

I have been having pretty good luck with the challenges so far this year.  Most of the items on my list, I would probably make again.  Some of them I already have duplicated.  This time I can say with absolute certainty, I will never make coconut milk again.  I'm going to stock up on cans of coconut milk and coconut cream and never look back.  Why am I so certain?  Let me walk you through the process I went through to get 2 cups of coconut milk.

Since boyfriend and I were going out of town last weekend, I decided to make my coconut milk before we left.  We tried Whole Foods and only were able to locate young coconuts.  The flesh of a young coconut isn't what I needed to make coconut milk.  We stopped at Pathmark and surprisingly came home with two, whole coconuts!

I brought my coconuts home and drained the coconut water out.  It looked a little cloudy, but I've never done this before, so who knows what to expect!  I took out my favorite hammer and pounded on the coconut until it cracked open to reveal...  rotten, moldy coconut flesh.  It was gross.  Luckily I had gotten two coconuts at the grocery store!  I drained the second one, cracked it in two and discovered... a second rotten coconut!  Pathmark must have gotten a bad batch.

This sad turn of events meant that I was going to be making coconut water in Buffalo.  Thankfully, Buffalo is home to Wegmans and Wegmans stocks coconuts.  As a lifelong fan of Wegmans, I knew that they would not disappoint and sell me rotten coconuts.  My parents were a bit confused as to why I was making coconut milk when they sell it in every grocery store.  After three hours, I would be asking myself the same question.

Draining and opening the coconuts was the easy part.  Although my dad wondered what all the noise was about and I scared the dogs out of the kitchen.  When it came to prying the flesh out of the shell, I got a little frustrated.  Videos on youtube suggested keeping the shell whole of prying out the flesh with a knife, while others told me to break the shell into smaller pieces, then remove the flesh.  All I can tell you is, it took me over an hour to remove all of the coconut meat from the shell.

After the meat was freed, I spent the next hour and a half peeling the brown skin from the while flesh.  After spending all this time trying to get clean coconut meat, there was no way I was going to hand grate it.  The food processor was put into action and I finally was able to make my coconut milk.  Once the coconut is freed and grated, it's easy to make the milk.  Just a little boiling water and ten minutes time and it was done.  Took long enough!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Curried Chicken with Coconut Rice

I have been cohabitating with boyfriend for just over a year now and while we have lots of fun and it's great to see him every day, there are some things that I miss...

My mess.  When living on your own, any mess you make is your own mess.  It's your own responsibility to clean up, or not clean up, your living space.  My apartment was tiny, so it got dirty and cluttered pretty quickly.  During the week, I would treat my apartment as a landing pad.  I would throw down my stuff, eat a bowl of salad, change into my PJs and go to bed.  Things would pile up.  Dishes, clothes, books.  Come Sunday I would clean it all up and start fresh.  Now there is my mess and boyfriends mess.  You don't even want to see our apartment right now.

My big fluffy bed.  I bought a grown-up bed my second year of graduate school.  It was a full size, double-pillowtop cloud of a bed.  I had to climb into it at night and jump down in the morning.  I piled it high with pillows and covered it in a white, king size, down comforter.  While it was the most amazing bed ever sewn, it would be a little cozy for two people.  I sold my beautiful bed to a fellow grad student and moved my fluffy pillows to New Jersey.

My all day cooking sessions in my tiny studio kitchen.  When living in 300-square feet, with a kitchen that took up half of that space, the cooking took over the entire living space.  I would have marshmallows setting on my TV stand, a cutting board on my tiny cafe table and two burners running on my stovetop.  With working long hours in the lab all week long, I had to cram all my cooking into one day.  These days I can cook dinner every night and spend my weekends with boyfriend.

All in all, I'll take the two-person mess, less fluffy bed and spread out cooking schedule.  Boyfriend is a pretty fun roommate.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wedding Weekends

It's been over a decade since I started my first day of college as a bright eyed art major. Those of you who know me are aware that I was not always on the path of science, not forever lab-bound. I spent the entirety of my freshman year dedicated to becoming a photographer. I'm always reminded of my photography roots whenever I head to a wedding, like boyfriend and I did this weekend.

It all started in high school, with my first photography class and senior year internship at a local photo studio. My simple internship of checking people in, organizing the studio and calling customers turned into a four year job. I graduated from desk duty to becoming an active member of the awesome photo team.

My second summer working at the studio, I started to go with the photographers to weddings, shooting as a candid observer. Black and white film loaded into my camera, I enjoyed being a fly on the wall for many a wedding. And I do mean many. Over my four years at the studio I attended at least fifty weddings (This is actually the reason I don't want to get married in my hometown!).

Come my junior year in college,I accepted an internship at a chemical company and said goodbye to my friends at the photo studio. Even though I'm a chemist through and through now, the wedding photographer in me always comes out whenever I attend a friends wedding. Boyfriend asks me why I'm taking pictures of the confetti-strew aisle and half-empty champagne glasses and I just say "I can't help it."

I also made some cookies this weekend and took their picture.  They were delicious.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Cherry-coconut bagels

Since it's Saturday, I'll keep this one short!  I want you to go outside and do something fun.  Or stay inside and do something fun, if it's cold/rainy/snowing/gross outside today.

The second installment of bagels involves cherries and coconut!  You might be wondering why I chose to make sweet bagels, rather than something savory or cheesey.  There is a simple reason, I never get sweet bagels! 

Let me say first, that I work for an awesome company.  Each and every Thursday morning we come into work and there is a big basket of bagels and muffins waiting for us.  People mill about in the lunchroom, toasting bagels, pouring juice and brewing coffee.  We chat about our lives and say hello to the people in other departments.  The bagels are slathered in cream cheese, butter or jam and people are jealous of that one person that got the cinnamon-raisin bagel.

I don't know who puts together the delivery bag of bagels for us, but they refuse to give us more than one or two cinnamon-raisin bagel!  It's not that there isn't a plethora of other delicious bagels, but sometimes I'd like the choice!  Savory or sweet?  Last weekend I decided to fulfill my desire for sweet!

If you are more of a savory bagel kind of person it's simple to adapt the base recipe to suit your needs!  Simply omit the dried fruits and stir in some cheese, hot peppers, bacon, whatever you want!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Thai Chicken Soup

The weather has taken a turn for the worse here in New Jersey!  Walking out of my apartment yesterday morning I was confronted with a torrential downpour.  By the time I got to work, the temperature had dropped by ten degrees and the wind had increased by twenty miles per hour. 

The weather seemed to deteriorate as the day went on.  By lunchtime, the winds howled and a chill began to take hold.  Shortly after returning from lunch we sat in our office (discussing highly intellectual things like chemical bonding and cell assays) (actually, I think we were talking about food), I looked out the window to discover hail bouncing off of the windows.

Waiting on the train platform everyone looked like cows, with their backs to the wind.  Forty mile per hour gusts blasted us commuters, tearing through even the thickest jacket, scarf or hat.  I was never so happy to see the train lights cutting through the night.

In an effort to warm up, spicy soup was in order.  Luckily, this soup was ready in no time flat.  The stock and chicken were prepared this weekend, the thing that took the longest time was cleaning the mushrooms!  Boyfriend and I were warm in no time!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Coconut Brownies

Did anyone else wake up this morning and wonder how it came to be December 1st already?  I know that I did!  It feels like we should still be working our way through September right now.  Maybe it's the warm weather that we've been experiencing in the Northeast (not that I'm complaining one bit!).  Maybe it's the fact that this is the first time in my life that is gorverned by the real calendar and not the scholastic calendar (where was the influx of undergrads to mark the beginning of September?)  Maybe it's because I kinda skipped out on the whole Thanksgiving dinner thing?

Some of you were wondering why I missed out on my turkey dinner last Thursday, I promise I had a good reason!  Instead of partaking in a Thursday evening food-fest, boyfriend and I spent the usual binging hours flying from New York to Florida.  We flew down to warmer weather to visit his parents on the sunny Gulf coast and that's why we missed our turkey and stuffing.

Yes, I know that New York City enjoyed near record temperatures last weekend, but it was still warmer in Florida.  Plus, boyfriends parents live a mere seven-minute walk to the beach.  It would take me hours to walk to the beach from my apartment in New Jersey, then I would find myself confronted with the chilly Atlantic.  Brrr...

I enjoyed a restful weekend at the beach and got a little sun, then I fell asleep in the back seat of the car when returning to the airport.  Yes, I was thoroughly made fun of.  What can I say Vicki plus sun plus car ride equals nap time!  Who am I kidding, I fall asleep in the car all the time.

Since I know that you aren't feeling bad for me now for missing thanksgiving dinner, here are some brownies.  They are awesome and one of the tastiest treats to come out of the Wilde kitchen in a while!

Did you also notice the new tab at the top?  Be sure to stop by and check out my upcoming challenge for 2012!  I need your help, I need your input, I need you to challenge me!!!  Go on, it will be fun.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Coconut-Cherry Muffins

When boyfriend and I returned from Thailand, we slept a whole bunch.  For some reason we were just fine when we got to Thailand, well almost fine.  As we walked home from dinner the first night (after sixteen hours on a plane keep in mind!), my body started falling asleep.  My feet would all of a sudden go to bed, while I was trying to walk.  There are some good looking pictures of me, falling asleep at the restaurant.  I nearly fell over at least five times on our way back to the hotel.  Someone kept making fun of me and taking pictures of me as I fell asleep.

Coconut flowers and a sprouting coconut

Look, a baby coconut!
After getting a good nights sleep, we were much better.  It was much easier to walk down the street when my legs were trying to take a nap.  The jet lag wasn't too bad and I'm assuming it was because we were so excited about being in Thailand.

Cooking down coconut syrup
Nearly finished coconut sugar
  Returning home was a totally different story.  Jet lag hit us both, hard.  We arrived home after travelling from Phuket to Hong Kong to Vancouver to New York City, in a mere twenty-four hours.  We went from eight-five degrees and high humidity to a snow-covered, below-freezing New York, it was not a pleasant return.  When we finally got back to our apartment, things went well for an hour or two.  We emptied out the suitcases, put a load of laundry in the washing machine and showered.  Then we sat on the couch and turned on some HGTV.  That's when it went downhill as we fell asleep for about four hours, oops.

Palm sugar, cooling into their traditional shape

The bees like palm sugar too!

The first morning of being back in our house we woke up at the completely unnatural hour of four o'clock am.  The rest of the week we kept falling asleep at 9:00 and waking up at 5:00.  I was so proud of us when we stayed up until the evening news on Friday night.  Yup, we're party animals.

Getting the meat out of the coconut

The finished product, coconut oil!
There was one exciting thing about coming home, other than sleeping in my own bed again, packages in the office!  While we were gone I had a few packages arrive in the apartment office.  One was a book, one was a present for boyfriend and the third was from Kelapo!  I was contacted by Kelapo just before we went on vacation about trying some of their virgin coconut oil.  After travelling to Thailand I was even more excited about getting this package in the mail because we visited a coconut farm! 
The pictures you see throughout this post were from the coconut farm, where they made everything from coconut oil, coconut (or palm) sugar, coconut milk and items made from the coconut shell.  The farm smelled wonderful and was full of bees.  At least the bees weren't interested in stinging us, they just wanted to eat the palm sugar.  When I returned home and opened up the Kelapo virgin coconut oil I was transported back to the coconut farm.  Thank you Kelapo, for bringing me back to vacation.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Congo Bars

Welcome to a new week everyone, I hope that you had a great weekend.  It feels like the summer is slowly winding down and the cooler days of fall are easing in.  Boyfriend and I spent this weekend enjoying New York and paying some tribute to the people that lost their lives ten years ago.  Saturday night we were headed home from the grocery store and noticed a bright spot on the clouds.  After pondering for a moment we realized that the bright spot was caused by the Tribute in Light in Lower Manhattan.

We took a drive up the hill, to the Eagle Rock Reservation, and spent some time enjoying this view...

We weren't the only people to have this same idea.  Even though it was 8:30 at night and the night air was getting chilly, dozens of people were milling about.  They were enjoying the view, remembering the day and what I found most interesting, sharing the story of 9/11 with their children and grandchildren.  The day is so bright in my memory, that it's still strange to think that it was ten years ago.

Ten years ago, I was just an undergraduate.  I had just completed my first analytical chemistry exam of the semester and was headed to the bank.  The radio was streaming news of the events in New York City and I was very confused.  Coming into the story in mid-conversation was very difficult and trying to determine what was happening from the radio was not easy.  From the bank I headed home in time to see the both World Trade Center towers engulfed in flames.

Upon returning to campus, there were televisions everywhere.  About 30% of the student population came from the metro New York area and this event hit our campus very close to home.  With my friends, in the campus lounge, we watched the events of the day unfold.

Yesterday, boyfriend and I headed to New York.  We headed to the New York Times building to check out their pictoral gallery in the lobby.  I had been seeing this 9/11 tribute gallery for the past few days and really wanted to walk through.  If you happen to be in NYC today, you should stop by and have a look, it was very well done. 

On a completely different note, I spent some time this weekend baking.  Boyfriend had some work to do on his computer and I decided that I had some work to get done in the kitchen!    I had a bunch of coconut to use up and thought these bars would be the perfect vehicle for them.  Throw in your favorite nuts and chocolate chips and you've got yourself a perfect treat.  Oh yeah, and did you know that nothing smells better than Graham cracker crumbs and butter?  Delicious.

Congo Bars
Adapted from Fat Witch Brownies

So, I was a little lazy this weekend and bought pre-crumbed, Graham cracker crumbs.  You can, of course, use whole Graham crackers and crust them up.  Take 11 crackers and put them in a zip-top bag, bash the heck out of them with a rolling pin!  Oh delicious graham crackers!

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup Graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup brown sugar
7 tbsp butter, melted

1 1/4 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Pre-heat oven to 350 and grease an 8x8-inch pan with cooking spray.

Mix together the flour, baking soda, graham cracker crumbs and brown sugar.  Add melted butter and mix thoroughly.  Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove the crust from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack.  While the crust is cooling, combine all the remaining ingredients in a bowl.  Add the coconut mixture on the top of the crust and spread evenly.  Bake for another 20 minutes to set the topping.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.  Loosen the edges with a spatula and invert on a cutting board.  Flip over and cut into 9 pieces, OM NOM NOM!!!
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