Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sweet Hearts

So yeah, Valentine's Day. Usually I get all into cooking up something fabulous for E and I to eat for a nice little romantic dinner. This year Valentine's Day falls on a Tuesday, though, and my days are obviously scheduled around another little person's needs. I have no idea if a fabulous feast will materialize. Sweets, on the other hand, there will be. I've got my eye on a couple of  dessert recipes from Momofuku Milk Bar, though. Things I can do a few steps at a time over a day or so. Crack Pie, anyone? My Pinterest Dessert board is also full of goodies to try, so who knows what I'll end up with.

In the meantime, I am chipping away at the pantry stash because I realized it's just ridiculous in there. A whole family of raccoons could move in and I'd never find them. So a box of Cheerios and a bag of marshmallows were sacrificed for this early sweet heart treat. Yummy! I love a ten minute no bake dessert/snack/excusetobingeonsweets. Don't you?

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cereal Bars
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1 10 oz. bag peppermint marshmallows (if you can't find them, use regular mini marshmallows and add 2 tsps. of peppermint extract)
4 Tbls. butter
4 cups of Cheerios (or Rise Krispies or Chex or whatever you like)
pinch of salt
1/2 cup white chocolate chips, optional
Nonpareils, optional

Butter a casserole dish and line it with parchment paper. (Note: For thick bars, use a 9 x 9 inch pan, for thin bars use a 9 x 13. I use a 9 x 13 so I can use cookie cutters.) Measure out cereal and 1/2 cup of the marshmallows into a bowl, set aside. In a saucepan over medium high heat, melt butter and chocolate, stirring until smooth. Add marshmallows and stir constantly until melted. Add cereal and reserved marshmallows and fold until combined. Pour into prepared pan and smooth with the back of your spoon. Refrigerate for 3 - 4 hours or until firm. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters or slice into bars. If desired, melt white chocolate over a double boiler and drizzle over bars. Sprinkle with nonpareils.

Thursday, February 09, 2012


Feeding a growing boy gets really interesting once he decides to be independent and feed himself. Get ready for prunes smeared in the hair and far flung bits of Cheerio to appear in random places days later. I just happened to discover some crusty green stuff on the back of a dining room chair leg the other day. It took a butter knife to scrape it off and I have no idea what it was. Nice. One of the ways to avoid a little of the mess and to allow your little to still explore the fun of self feeding is combo finger foods. Jude had issues with finger foods at first, in that all he could pick up were Cheerios and puffs. Banana chunks slipped right from his fingers like a bar of wet soap. Even when rolled in baby cereal. Any cooked fruit or veggie shot right out of his hands. It was sad to watch, really. He'd try so hard to pick up a bite, only to have it escape him inches from his mouth. And a kid can't live on baby puffs, even if they are fun to stick to his forehead.

I started making Jude fruit and veggie bites so he'd be able to feed himself something nutritious that he could actually hang on to. Now they are his favorite snacks. E sneaks them, too. They're delicious, honestly. I make a couple of different variations, and now I actually make them double sized. He houses them, even if I still have to break them into a few pieces. We're still working on the "take a bite" idea. They obviously defrost faster when small, so make whatever is most convenient for you and your babykins.

Carrot Apple Cheddar Bites
makes 2 dozen

1 cup shredded carrot
1 cup shredded apple
1 cup shredded chaddar cheese
4 egg yolks
1-1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour, bread crumbs, or baby cereal (I use Earth's Best Rice Cereal)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Toss all ingredients in a bowl and stir until well combined. Using a cookie scoop, scoop out the mixture and press it firmly into the scoop. You can also use a tablespoon and roll into balls with your hands. Place a few inches apart on cookie sheets. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until set and just beginning to brown at the edges.
Store a few bites in the fridge for up to three days. Freeze the remaining bites in ziploc bags for up to a month.

Zucchini Ricotta Bites - Substitute 2 cups of shredded zucchini for the carrot and apple. Add 1/2 cup ricotta and increase dry ingredients by 1/4 cup.

Sweet Potato and Pear Bites - Substitute 1 cup shredded sweet potato and 1 cup shredded pear (use a firm pear like Bosc) for the carrot and apple.

If you come up with a new flavor combo that your baby loves, let me know!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Cake Pop FAIL!

Erg. Cake Pops. Those adorable little sweet treats on a stick that everyone and their mother appears to be making with ease these days. I mean, you can get them at Starbucks for Pete's sake (although they aren't good. Not at all.). Apparently, I am not everyone, nor am I their mothers. The joy of cake popery eludes me. I had grand ideas of sending of a batch of pretty little sweet pops to my nephews and cousins for their annual Valentine's Day goody boxes, but no. Not this time. Despite the creation of a delicious cake recipe and three different dipping attempts, I failed to get even a single perfect pop.

It's the coating. I started with Wilton brand candy melts in light cocoa. Is it me, or does this stuff just suck? It melts into a very thick chocolate-like substance ( I say "chocolate-like" because one glance at the ingredients list and you'll shiver) that is no good for dipping. Squeezing and spreading, maybe, but not dipping. I was going for a thin, glossy coat, but I got thick and gloppy instead. Clearly this isn't the product I need.

I then tried a white bark found at the grocery store. I don't even want to go there. It didn't even melt. It turned into stringy, cheese-like strands of white sugar and ended up in the trash. So I went with the last resort. I knew the frosting I used for the cake wouldn't work, but I had a can of white frosting (for shame!) in the back of the pantry. A zap in the microwave and it was melted into a smooth glaze. It actually looked like it might work. For a hot minute. Then I realized that it was still too heavy, as my poor pops went tumbling ass over tea kettle off of their sticks. They never stood a chance. Sigh.

So I ended up dumping all of the cakes into the melted frosting and pulling them out with a fork. Cake balls. A sprinkle of nonpareils and they went back to the fridge to set up. Not that they ever really set up. They are still sticky and gooey. But I refuse to cave in to the perfectionista breathing down my neck right now. That would be a whole two days worth of nap time down the drain. So I'm going to eat every single one of those little blobs if it kills me. Or causes me to slip into a sugar coma. That'll show 'em.

Raspberry Cream Cheese Swirl Cake Balls
One white cake baked in a sheet pan
2 sticks butter at room temperature
12 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla 
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

6 oz. seedless raspberry jam

Preparation: Beat butter and cream cheese with vanilla until fluffy. Add sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating at medium high speed until very fluffy. You may not need all of the sugar! Set aside one cup of frosting and reserve the rest for another use.

Crumble the cake into small crumbs in a large bowl. Add frosting and fold until just combined. Heat jam in the microwave or on the stovetop, stirring until smooth. Pour into cake mixture and fold until just combined so that swirls of jam still appear.

You may want to butter your hands at this point since it's a messy job! Scoop cake balls into your palm using a one inch batter scoop. Roll into a smooth ball and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Repeat until all of the balls are formed. Move sheet to the freezer for at least an hour. 


Now on to that dipping mess. I clearly can't help you there. Bakerella can show you how, or maybe you have tips for me? A different brand or product I should use? Or maybe I should just hang my head in shame and move on? Hit me up if you have ideas!