Spiked Chocolate Rice Crispy Treats

This evening, after a long day of school, conferences, and Greta eating and playing hard – she crashed hard and early.  Eric was still at said conferences, so I hit the kitchen to play the use it up game.  I had seen some interesting rice crispy treat recipes on Pinterest and decided to tweak them to fit what I had in my baking cupboards.  The outcome was not Pinterest pretty – but still rather tasty.

My mom taught me a wonderful quote last weekend: “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”  I think that is my new mantra.  Though I would hardly call these Spiked Chocolate Rice Crispy Treats bad.  See so for yourself, though. 
These were my magical ingredients tonight.  

Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a large pan over low heat or in a microwave safe bowl.  Add 3 tablespoons orange liqueur – I opted for Harlequin.  Add a 10 oz bag of marshmallows.  
At this point, I got frustrated.  I dumped them into a microwave safe dish and nuked em til they were big and about to explode (about 3 minutes).  The liqueur turned them an interesting golden color. 
Add 6 cups of rice crisp-like cereal.  
Stir very well.  At this point, Eric was home and he took over the stirring for me. 
Use a piece of parchment paper to press your gooey treats into a well-greased 9 x 13 inch pan. 
Last, for a topping, melt 5 oz of semi sweet chocolate.  Spread over the top.  
Allow to cool and set.  Slice and serve.  The orange flavor is perfectly paired with the chocolate and only gets better as it cools.  These would be perfect holiday treats or a perfect start to your weekend.  Happy (almost) Friday, everyone!
Spiked Chocolate Rice Crispy Treats
1. Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a large pan over low heat or in a microwave safe bowl.  Add 3 tablespoons orange liqueur.  Add a 10 oz bag of marshmallows
2.  When the marshmallows have completely melted, add 6 cups of rice crisp-like cereal.  Stir well.  Use a piece of parchment paper to press your gooey treats into a well-greased 9 x 13 inch pan. 
3. For a topping, melt 5 oz of semi sweet chocolate.  Spread over the top.  Allow treats to cool and set.  Slice and serve. 

Baked Beet Chips

This post is like a bad pun tonight – watching the election results roll in and eating beet chips.  Hehe.  I hope you all voted early, absentee, or today.  We had a lovely teacher work day today and after voting I spent the morning cleaning out supply cupboards in my art room.  I also got a chance to try some new project ideas out.  More on that later though. 
Anyway, baked beet chips are so easy to make as a quick side to your dinner, an after school snack for kids, or as a side dish for a party. 
Peel 3 beets.  

Using a mandoline, slice beets on the thinnest setting, such as 1/16.”

Put sliced beets in a bowl, toss with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. 

Spread onto a baking sheet, cover with a second baking sheet.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until edges begin to dry and curl.  

I tried baking one batch covered for the first half of baking

and one batch uncovered for the entire duration of baking.  The covered batch seemed to be crispier.  

After 20 minutes of covered baking, flip beet chips and return to oven, uncovered, for another 10 to 15 minutes or until dried and curled.  

Your edges should curl like so.  These chips still need to be flipped and baked once more. 
Allow chips to cool on a wire rack and they will get crispy, rest assured! 

I was surprised by how much the beet chips shrank over the baking period – there are two rings visible from the two baking lengths. 

3 beets only makes about one plate of beet chips which meant we were left battling Greta for these babies! 

In the end this is all we had left…
Next time, sweet potato chips. 
Baked Beet Chips
1. Peel 3 beets.  Using a mandoline, slice beets on the thinnest setting, such as 1/16.”
2. Put sliced beets in a bowl, toss with 2 teaspoons of olive oil.  Spread onto a baking sheet, cover with a second baking sheet.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until edges begin to dry and curl.  
3. After 20 minutes of covered baking, flip beet chips and return to oven, uncovered, for another 10 to 15 minutes or until dried and curled.  Allow chips to cool on a wire rack and they will get crispy. 

Balsamic Acorn Squash

This recipe came about after discovering that Greta really enjoys balsamic vinegar.  She devoured all the feta cheese out of a spinach salad and then proceeded to stick her fork in the dressing cup repeatedly.  See below for the struggle for the fork. 
We went out to dinner this weekend to Mellow Mushroom in downtown Greensboro.  It was a happening night, being First Friday and all.  
Mellow Mushroom has a great ambiance, deliciously different pizzas, great local draughts, and these amazing stain glass windows.  
So, back on the home front, I decided to try something different with my golden acorn squash.  First, slice one golden acorn squash in half.  Scoop out the seeds and then cut into rings.  

Place the rings on a rimmed baking sheet. 

Slice one Granny Smith apple into larger chunks, place on the rimmed baking sheet. 

In a small jar, 2 oz of olive oil

2 oz of balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon of sage

1 sprig of rosemary, stems removed, 

freshly ground pepper and salt to taste, and 2 oz of water

Place lid on jar and shake well. 

Pour over the squash and apple mixture, flip to ensure both sides are well coated.  

Let marinate for at least 30 minutes.  

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12 minutes.  Remove after 12 minutes, with a fork or tongs, flip squash and apples over.  As you see above, the squash ring on the right has been flipped and the on the left has not been flipped. 

Return to oven and cook 12 more minutes.  Your pan will most likely steam away while baking, keep a close eye on this, do not allow to over bake. 
Everything should be a lovely caramelized brown and a soft texture when baked.  
I served our squash with spaetzle and Tofurky kielbasa.  
This was another perfect autumn meal.  I cannot even begin to accurately describe the flavor and aroma of this squash dish.  This was a perfect way to spice up a typical dish in an atypical way.  

True to Greta’s toddler form, she gobbled up the cheesy spaetzle but ignored the squash I invented just for her.  Either way, we will be eating more of this squash dish in the future.  
Mommy’s Medley Balsamic Acorn Squash
1. Slice one golden acorn squash in half.  Scoop out the seeds and then cut into rings.  Place the rings on a rimmed baking sheet.  Slice one Granny Smith apple into larger chunks, place on the rimmed baking sheet. 
2. In a small jar, 2 oz of olive oil2 oz of balsamic vinegar1 teaspoon of sage1 sprig of rosemary, stems removed, freshly ground pepper and salt to taste, and 2 oz of water. Place lid on jar and shake well.  Pour over the squash and apple mixture, flip to ensure both sides are well coated.  Let marinate for at least 30 minutes. 
3. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12 minutes.  Remove after 12 minutes, with a fork or tongs, flip squash and apples over.  Return to oven and cook 12 more minutes.  Enjoy warm!
Something pretty for your kitchen:

Goodbye 20s Hello 30s + Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

On Tuesday night I got my first surprise party.  We had a work day the following day, hence the weeknight party.  It all started when one of my friends texted me and asked if I could pick her son up from wrestling practice that evening due to a conflict.  It was completely a believable excuse since her sister-in-law had a baby that day.  So, off we all went to pick up her son.  Once we are in the car, Greta proceeds to cry all the way to their house.  Her son says, “Oh, I finished painting my room, do you want to see it?”  “Sure!” says the art teacher who loves fantastic wall colors.  In we go, and SURPRISE!
This is my shocked face and Greta’s smiling face, after all, everyone was there for her, right?

I was still surprised in this photo.  I was not expecting this at all. 
Yes, it is my 30th birthday.  My friends’ 3-1/2 year old made the card and wrapped the gifts in aluminum foil – LOVE IT!  
Oh my, this photo showed up on a greeting card.  It was taken 8 years ago when I first met these two lovely ladies.  
So, we decided to recreate it.  As you can see, we haven’t changed a bit!  I love you ladies!  
Today, being Friday, and my actual birthday, I took the day off.  What better way to spend the morning of your birthday than by baking your own cake?  I mean it.  I love homemade cakes and cannot bear the thought of eating a store bought cake (unless it was the amazing chocolate Costco cake as seen in the first picture of this entry).  
I opted for a twist on the classic Key Lime Pie and created a pumpkin version – I used a combination of a couple recipes to create this concoction.  Behold the Chocolate Pumpkin Pie.  The chocolate graham cracker crust with chunks of chocolate and spicy pumpkin is a perfect pairing in this creamy dessert. 

Start by crushing graham crackers to make 1-1/4 cups graham crumbs.  This is about 18 crackers.  I put the crackers in a zip lock bag and crush them with a juice glass.  

Add the graham crumbs and 1/4 cup sugar to 1/3 cup melted butter or margarine.  Stir.  

Press graham mixture into sides and bottom of a 9-inch pie plate.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 4 to 5 minutes.  

Meanwhile, for the filling, whisk together 1-1/2 cups pumpkin puree

1/4 teaspoon cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon, 

1/4 cup maple syrup,

1 egg, and 1/4 cup heavy cream in a mixing bowl.  Whisk until smooth. 
Place a sprinkling of semi-sweet chocolate chips over the cooked crust base.  

Pour the pumpkin filling over the crust. 

Smooth with a scraper.  Add a swirl of maple syrup and a sprinkling of brown sugar to the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes until set.  
Cool at 1 hour at room temperature, refrigerate at least one hour.  
Enjoy! 
Chocolate Pumpkin Pie
1. For the Chocolate Graham Crust, add 1-1/4 cups graham crumbs and 1/4 cup sugar to 1/3 cup melted butter or margarine.  Stir.  Press graham mixture into sides and bottom of a 9-inch pie plate.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 4 to 5 minutes.  
2. For the filling, whisk together 1-1/2 cups pumpkin puree1/4 teaspoon cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1 egg, and 1/4 cup heavy cream in a mixing bowl.  Whisk until smooth. 
3. Place a sprinkling of semi-sweet chocolate chips over the cooked crust base.  Pour the pumpkin filling over the crust. Smooth with a scraper.  Add a swirl of maple syrup and a sprinkling of brown sugar to the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes until set.  Cool at 1 hour at room temperature, then refrigerate at least one hour before enjoying. 

Roasted Pumpkin & Goat Cheese Pasta

Holy Goat.  I never want to eat store bought mac-n-cheese from the box again.  
This recipe is so good and so simple.  It comes from Martha Stewart – try it, I dare ya! 
Cut a pie pumpkin in half, remove the seeds, and cut into 1-inch cubes.  Cut 1/2 a red onion into 1-2-inch pieces.  Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle olive oil, mix well enough to cover all the veggies.

Season with fresh ground pepper and sage.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or til soft.  

Choose a pasta.  I chose trottole for its fun spiral shape and ability to hold sauce and seasonings inside its lovely curves.  Cook the pasta according to the package.  

Meanwhile, the pumpkin and onion should be soft and caramelized.  

Before draining the pasta, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.  Drain pasta, return to pan, and add 2 tablespoons butter or margarine.

Add 5 oz of goat cheese.  I used this nice creamy President goat cheese. 

Crumble the cheese into the hot pasta.

Toss until cheese and butter/margarine is melted.  

Fold in roasted pumpkin and onion mix. 

Serve immediately.  This made so much food – we got 6 servings out of this plus a few small meals for Greta.  This is a 5 star pasta dish!  
Roasted Pumpkin & Goat Cheese Pasta – from Martha Stewart 
1. Cut a pie pumpkin in half, remove the seeds, and cut into 1-inch cubes.  Cut 1/2 a red onion into 1-2-inch pieces.  Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle olive oil, mix well enough to cover all the veggies.  Season with fresh ground pepper and sage.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or til soft.  
2.  Choose a pasta.  Cook the pasta according to the package.  Before draining the pasta, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.  Drain pasta, return to pan, and add 2 tablespoons butter or margarine.
3. Add 5 oz of goat cheese.  Crumble the cheese into the hot pasta.  Toss until cheese and butter/margarine is melted.  Fold in roasted pumpkin and onion mix.  Serve immediately.