Sunday, January 31, 2010

A New Twist (Pear and Pecan Salad)

What good is a cook book when the price triumphs over taste and thinking while one stares at a recipe, is it really worth twenty dollars? That is why I love the Half Price Book Store so much. The price is the last thing I have to worry about when wandering from aisle to aisle scanning all the gently used and greatly loved books. The store has been so lovingly good to me in the past years from accompanying pleasurable summer novels for me to read while lounging around the beaches of Mexico, to saving my life with Spark notes for school projects in English, and now leaving extra change in my pocket to buy my first vegetarian cook book. Yes, that is right, I have pledged to PETA, and have happily become a vegetarian. So good bye meat, and sorry to those meat lovers, but this will no longer be a blog of meat. And for those meat lovers, well, it was very nice to meat you. (Hah, Blake, I had to add a pun! It only made sense!...Or since I am talking about saving money, it only made cents!)
I absolutely loved this salad, because the textures melted so well together. The pear was perfectly ripe and sweetened the red tipped lettuce, while the toasted pecans added a huge crunch to every bite. The softness of the pear almost smashed into the salad and the crunch of the pecans caused them to crumble on top. Because of this, a perfect salad was created. Thank you Nicola Graimes for this splendid combo! Note to reader: As this recipe did come from a cook book, I did change it up quite a bit and I saved more or less the idea of blending the two main ingredients together in the salad.
1 cup shelled pecan nuts, halved
2 ripe pears
about half or so red tipped lettuce
caesar dressing that is more on the oily side
At 350 degrees fahrenheit, toast pecans on baking sheet that is lightly covered with olive oil. Make sure they do not burn. Cut the pears into even and thin slices, leaving the skin intact and discarding the cores. Wash the salad leaves and spin dry as well as patting down to with towel to further drying. Pour dressing and nuts over lettuce and toss. Serve with pecans on top, and enjoy!

Friday, January 22, 2010

My Favorite Cookies (Chocolate Walnut Oatmeal Cookies)

It was a Tuesday afternoon when I warmed up my house with the home sweet smell of baked oatmeal and chocolate. There was nothing special about this particular Tuesday, and there was no special reason why I was baking these delightful cookies. My mother had just come back from the grocery store with a container of oatmeal, so I decided to make a few people smile in my life. And that is how I came to make my favorite chocolate chip walnut oatmeal cookies. A few for my dad, a few for me and my mother, and lots for Blake and his family. Ohh and maybe I was also procrastinating on studying for the most extremely dreadful class of all time; Physics. . . blehhhh. Who likes to study for that? So I came up with a new studying technique that I believe works quite well for me; make some cookies and while they are baking away in the oven, read over my notes! However, I am still crossing my fingers this method works considering my teacher recently won the award for slowest grader in history and has yet to grade a test that was taken well over a week ago.

I have added all my favorite ingredients into one recipe. That is probably why I consider this my favorite cookie of all time. The chewiness of the oatmeal makes this cookie soft while the chopped walnuts add a crunch and the chocolate chips give the cookie a rich and melted sensation. All these extravagant varieties of texture blend together so well on the pallet of one's mouth, that it is quite difficult to eat simply one of these tasty little devils. They are just that good!
1/2 pound butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups uncooked oatmeal (not instant microwavable kind)
1 full bag nestle chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
heat oven to 325 degrees fahrenheit. Beat together in a food processor margarine and sugars until creamy and smoothed together. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well in a large bowl. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and mix well. Stir in oats, raison, and chocoalte. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 11 to 12 minutes or until golden brown and not quite hardend. Cool on a cookie sheet and then serve and enjoy!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Chinese Tortilla (Mandarin Pancakes)

Breakfast burrito or mu shu pork wrapped in a mandarin pancake? Easy; its the mu shu pork wrapped in a mandarin pancake. Okay, so not so easy to tell. But yes, that is more of a mandarin pancake, and less of a Mexican tortilla. It may come across a little hard to believe, but that in fact, is what I like to call a Chinese tortilla. Why not, right? I mean it is made of flour, looks like a tortilla, almost taste like one, and is used to wrap up all the goodness in order to eat with one's hands. So am I the first to say that not all Chinese food requires those tricky and impossible little sticks that are magically somehow supposed to scoop up not even half a bite size? Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against those who value meal time and don't mind finishing a meal in about four hours. But for me, when I use chopsticks, by my next attempt at getting even that second bite my food has gone terribly cold. Maybe that is why I loved this Chinese dish so much. I was able to eat it at a moderately and average time which allowed my mu shu pork to stay warm the whole way through dinner. (This made me happy.)

These Mandarin Pancakes are extremely easy to make, for they have very few ingredients. In fact, to my surprise, these simple little pancakes call for flour, oil, and water! Yep, that is it. . . just flour, oil, and water. In fact the ingredient list is so surprisingly short that I am going to say it again. Flour. Oil. Water. Flour. Oil. Water. Flour. Oil. Water. Easy, right? So few ingredients, anyone can remember them! Flour. Oil. Water. Not only is this recipe short, simple, and easy to remember, but also has a simple and light, airy taste to them as well! They are simply and perfectly delish!
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup boiling water
about 2 tablespoons sesame oil
Measure flour into a bowl and mix in water with a fork. Work dough several minutes until it holds together, then knead on a lightly floured board until smooth. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 30 min. Roll dough into 12 inch long log and cut into 12 equal pieces and keep covered. To make each pancake, cut one piece of dough exactly in half. Roll each half into a ball and flatten slightly. Roll each ball on a very lightly floured board to a round 3 inches in diameter. Brush sesame oil lightly on top of one round and cover with another round. Press the 2 rounds lightly but firmly together. Place the double round on a lightly floured board and roll out, from center to edges until 7 or 8 inches in diameter. Turn frequently, brushing board lightly with flour as needed. Repeat procedure until you have 2 or 3 pancakes; then cook before making more. Heat a wide frying pan over medium-high eat, then place a pancake on the uncreased surface. Turn about every 16 seconds until cake is blistered by air pockets, turns parchment color, and feels dry. Cake should not brown, but a few golden spots won't hurt. If overcooked, cake becomes brittle. Remove from pan and carefully pull the two halves apart and stack on a plate. Keep covered to stay warm. When ready to serve, brush hoisin sauce lightly on one side and fill with mu shu pork or whatever else you please! oh, and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

January Challenge: Mu Shu Pork

Okay I am probably thinking the same thing as many of those who are reading this post. What the HECK IS THAT?! or is it more of a.. UMMM, is that meat fully cooked?! Well to answer the first question; this masterpiece that Blake and I and his mom put together is known as Mu Shu Pork. Mu Shu is probably some Chinese name considering this recipe came out of a Chinese cookbook. But for me, as an American, when I hear the words mu shu, this picture is exactly what I picture in my creative little brain. And it is simply that; a bunch of mush, mu, and shu. And as the second question goes, YES the meat is fully cooked. As I do agree the light colors in the meat tend to make it look a bit on the raw side, I am one hundred percent certain that the pork is fully cooked and completely safe to eat.
This "mush" however is much more intricate than it may appear. Lots of planning, chopping, tearing, slicing, soaking, searching, and burning went into this Asian centered dinner. Not only were two grocery runs made that day, but because of this oily and eggy dish, Blake and I have become quite fond of our matching bubbly burn spots that have decided to move in and hang around for a little while on the sides of our arms. It was all worth it however in the end when we were finally able to bite into this savory and extremely flavorful dish while sharing the experience and taste with his family.
8 dried medium-size mushrooms
2 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoon each say sauce and white wine
1 pound boneless lean pork, cut into matchstick pieces
7 tablespoons canola oil
5 whole green onions
8 eggs, lightly beaten with 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 cup sliced bamboo shoots
2 small carrots shredded
4 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
Hoisin sauce
mandarin pancakes (recipe follows)
For cooking sauce:
2 tablespoons each soy sauce, white wine, water
2 teaspoons each sugar, cornstarch, sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cover mushrooms with warm water and let stand for 30 minutes and then drain. Cut off the stems and thinly slice rest of mushroom. In bowl combine cornstarch, soy, and wine. Add pork and stir to coat. Stir in 3 teaspoons of the oil. Let stand for 15 minutes to marinate. Prepare cooking sauce and set aside. Cut onions in 1.5 inch lengths, then cut lengthwise in thin shreds. Heat a wok or wide frying pan over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, add two tablespoon of oil. When oil is hot, add eggs (WARNING: SERIOUS BURNS MAY OCCUR) and cook, stirring, until softly set; then turn eggs out of pan. Heat the remaining tablespoons oil in pan and increase heat to high. When oil begins to heat, add ginger and stir. Add pork and stir-fry until meat is lightly browned (about four min.) Add mushrooms and stir-fry one min. Add bamboo shoots, carrot, lettuce, green onion, and cooking sauce and cook, stirring, until lettuce is crisp-tender (about 2 min.) Add scrambled eggs to pan and break into bite-size pieces as you stir them into the meat mixture. When eggs are hot, turn into serving dish and serve wrapped up in mandarin pancakes or with white rice and enjoy! Add hoisin sauce if you please.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cookbook Cooking (New Orleans Cajun Barbecue Shrimp)

Everyone has their own style of cooking and everyone cooks with their own unique flare. Mine I would say would be using few and simple ingredients, and going more for the Italian pasta dishes. Even though ironically, I am far from Italian. But hey, who's the boss to say dark haired Italians with sexy accents are the only ones who are best with pastas? Well besides all that, I recently have decided to go out of my "comfort box" and cook something with more ingredients, more spices, and hmm..more Cajun. I feel it is now time to expand my culinary horizon. (Or is it just the fact that my grandmother gave me a French Louisianan styled cook book for Christmas that I so desperately have been wanting to try.) Either way, this recipe is totally different than my previous recipes, because it is filled with lots and lots of dried herbs, spices, and whatever else that makes this dish flared up and Cajun!

My handy dandy cooking partner, Blake, was by my side every step of the way while creating this uniquely baked dish. Many firsts came out of this dish; it was my first time to shop at the FIESTA food market (or should I call it the little Mexican market?) and this market was so exciting to both Blake and me, for our eyes were in awe at all the brightly colored rows and rows of peppers, and the miniature bananas and cacti! Also, this was a first that I have ever baked shrimp in an oven, "DE-pooped" the shrimp (as Blake calls it, ha!), and the first to make a Cajun dinner. These shrimp were so good, juicy, and filled with lots and lots and lots of flavor! The shrimp may appear small, but the flavors triumph the entire meal, almost making you step back for a moment and soak in all the goodness from these "barbecued" shrimp. Oh, and about the name, I have no idea why my cookbook has decided to call this recipe barbecue shrimp, because 1. I did not use any type of barbecue anything in this recipe, 2. the shrimp taste nothing like barbecue and 3. my cookbook even said that it isn't barbecued shrimp, and only named that... so why are we being tricked? Well, I am here to warn you that if you are looking for the ultimate barbecued shrimp recipe, you might be disappointed. However, if you are looking for a real and authentic Cajun shrimp recipe, you are in for a real treat!

.5 cup unsalted butter
.5 cup olive oil
1 white onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 large clove garlic, minced
sea salt and ground black pepper
cayenne pepper
2 pounds extra-large shrimp (uncooked and headless)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. In a large frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the onion, rosemary, and oregano and cook until the onion is translucent but not browned, about eight minutes. Add the garlic and cook until the garlic is softened, about two minutes longer. Remover from the heat and season well with salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Rise the shrimp and arrange them in a shallow baking dish. Pour the warm sauce evenly over the top. Bake uncovered, stirring every ten minute, until the shrimp are opaque throughout and the flavors have melded, about thirty minutes. Serve and enjoy! (Serves great with garlic buttered french bread, and this served for me, Blake, my parents, and my second sister Kylie!... so should serve from 4 to 6 people)

Other Than Salad (Herbs, Cheese, and Baked Tomatoes)

I believe that tomatoes are an excuse for friends and family to come together and form assembly lines in order to slice, fold, and sprinkle while still chatting and having a good time. This may sound a little odd, but that is exactly how these tomatoes were made. I was off cooking the main dish with Blake, while helping my mother and Kylie prepare these decadent tomatoes. My mom became quite the professional slicer, while Kylie tore through her job of evenly tearing the cheese hoping to go for an authentic tomato look. Lots of fun was spent in the kitchen that night while we all hovered around the island pitching in when necessary in order to create that perfectly interesting dinner menu; Cajun barbecued shrimp with house salad, garlic buttered french bread and baked tomatoes. So yes, I would say we got the whole effect of "around the world cuisine" from France to New Orleans to anywhere that eats a simple house salad and baked tomatoes.

If there was anyone who loves these tomatoes the most, it would have to go to my sister, LB. They are a must when she is in town and her love for these tomatoes have made me come to love them as well. There is just something about a tomato being baked that makes my mouth water, and when I see the juices squirting out and over the bubbling, warm Swiss cheese, the taste become rich and creamy. Seconds and even thirds often appear for these baked tomatoes. They are bold in taste, smooth in texture, and overall beautiful to look at.
3 medium sized tomatoes
tablespoon dried basil
thinly sliced Swiss cheese
extra virgin olive oil
Slice the tomatoes to about half inch thick and align them on parchment paper on cookie sheet. Drizzle oil over tomatoes. Fold and tear cheese to fit the size of the tomatoes and place on top. Sprinkle basil on top and cook for about 6 min (until cheese melted and bubbly on tomatoes) in oven at 365 degrees fahrenheit. It is so simple, yet so good! Serve, and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bread Baking (Hamburger Buns)

What is the fun in baking when it is not much of a challenge? Even more of a broader question, what is the fun in life when there are no challenges put forth? These are questions I often ponder upon, because two arguments can easily be faced: routine and easy simpleness brings pleasure with out needing to use much of a brain, or the brain is shriveling up trying to find a challenge in life that is mere like a puzzle; something a bit more difficult yet intriguing enough that one is eager to find the answer for. The second argument is exactly how I felt about these somewhat challenging hamburger buns. It was set that Blake and I would be grilling hamburgers for some friends one Saturday night, but I wanted more of a challenge. Something that could be done, yet something I had to work a little harder at and really use my skills and technique with.

So this is what I had come up with, why not make the buns to the hamburger them selves!. (A post was previously posted on the hamburgers.) I must admit, about half way through I was extremely skeptical to the point I was going to head to the store and buy the fake and prepackaged buns. Thanks to Blake's optimism, I stuck with the dough and kneaded through the hard times. Glad that I did, these buns turned out beyond my expectations for they were not only GIANT! but light and fluffy on the inside while still a bit hard with a crunch on the outside. From coming strait out of the oven, they were warm and fresher than buying any loaf of bread from a market place. I, as well as my friends, were delighted and awed by the whole experience of getting the opportunity to try home-made, fresh hamburger buns.
Ingredients: (makes about 12 big buns)
1 cup instant mashed potatoes
2.5 cups boiling water
2 cups cottage cheese
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons oil
4.5 teaspoons instant yeast
2 eggs (beaten)
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup bran *found with whole and organic foods*
8 cups all purpose flour (or whole wheat flour)
2 tablespoons milk
2 eggs beaten
sesame seeds
Place instant mashed potatoes into a large bowl and add boiling water and stir with wooden spoon till smooth and allow to cool. Once cooled, add in cottage cheese, beaten egg, sugar, oil and salt. Mix together till the mixture is smooth. Not, add in the bran, instant yeast and two cups of flour. Mix with a wooden spoon for about five minutes. Allow to rest for ten minute uncovered. Place some of the flour onto a flat surface and our out the "dough" (I say this because it will appear rather chunky and liquidy) Sprinkle some more flour on top and begin to knead in the flour. Continue to knead for a very LONG TIME and slowly the "mush" will somehow, gradually become a type of dough. Then knead it for about ten minutes slowly and adding in more flour. The dough will be a little sticky but shouldn't any longer stick to your hands. It will become smooth and elastic. Add a tablespoon of oil to a clean bowl and place the kneaded dough into the bowl. Turn over a few times to lightly coat all of dough with oil. Cover with a damply wet towel and allow to rise until double in bulk (about one hour) pour out the dough and knead a few times to release the gas from the dough. Roll the dough out to form a long log and cut evenly about 10 to 16 slices. Roll each slice into a firm and round ball. Then place the ball on the table and under your palm, and press your palm down until the dough flattens out to about half and inch thick and is much wider. with two different sized cookie cutters, place both circled shaped cut out on top of the dough to leave a neat indention for the top of the bun. Brush the tops of the buns with the mixture of milk and eggs and then sprinkle seeds on top. Bake in oven on 350 degree fahrenheit for about 20 to 30 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Healthy Simpleness (Baked French Fries)

Cheers to possibly my shortest post yet. I figured I should make this one short, simple, and to the point in which it would parallel to the short and simple recipe. The french fries are a quick and easy side dish that may sound heart threatening and even fat quenching, but are not. Why is this so? Because they are baked! They are simply sliced and baked  potatoes. So unless a pure and nearly raw (yet not raw) potato is considered fattening and life threatening, then no they are not terribly bad for you!
two small or regular sized potatoes
sea salt and pepper to taste (plus a little more)
extra virgin olive oil (about 1/4 cup or more or less.. depending on size of potatoes)
pinch of cayenne red pepper
Okay, this should make about four to five servings or so. slice potatoes up to resemble thick french fries (do not peel of skin) Place them all into a BIG zip lock baggie and pour in oil to coat all fries, enough salt and pepper to assure each fry will have some and just a pinch of the cayenne red pepper. Close bag and shake untill everything is covered and dispersed evenly among fries. Let bag sit in refrigerator until ready to bake fries for about 30 to 40 min at about 350 degree fahrenheit. serve and enjoy!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Winter Grill Out (Jalapeno Burgers)

Hm, so where shall I start today? Shall I start with two teenagers frantically running from aisle to aisle trying to find all the ingredients before time has run out, or shall I go with a more calm approach by saying the hamburgers were oh so delightful? Well, I could easily ramble on and on about these hamburgers making them sound so perfect and this and that being perfect, but then I would be lying. First off, time was crunched into a small four hour block (and yes, that is not much time when waiting for bread to rise!), then by the time we got the grill to work, to Blake's surprise all outdoor lights were broken and he was forced to grill with a faint flashlight dangling above by my shaky hand. And finally all time was put into the burgers that only about twenty minutes were put into attempting to savor every bit of hard work until we had to be rushed off to an indoor soccer game. Even though the day went by fast, I do not regret a single second.

Blake is the master griller and all credits of the burgers must go to him. As he was preparing these spicy and richly packed burgers, I was right by his side attempting to make hamburger buns for my first time. (A post on those will be up shortly.) I must admit, I was a bit skeptical when watching him make the burgers "sandwich style", but I had to put my faith into his hands that he would create mouth watering burgers where my friends would be begging to come back for more. And yes, Blake was right for these were some of the best burgers I have ever tasted! No joke, they were filled with juices and spices and were purely amazing. They are true mouth watering burgers, with the freshly sliced tomato and perfectly hot jalapenos and jalapeno pepper jack cheese. These burgers are to die for and I will definitely be seeing them again in my near future. . .
3 lbs ground beef
jar of hot, sliced jalapenos
burger seasoning
worcestshire sauce
4 slices jalapeno pepper jack cheese
separate the ground beef so it will make a total of 8 burgers. take one of the burger patties and separate it into two. Pat them down and round them to desired consistency of a patty. Layer jalapenos on top of one Pattie and then sprinkle with burger seasoning. place the other Pattie on top. "smush" edges together to make one complete hamburger patty. Pour worcestshire sauce over all over the patty and allow it to soak into burger by refrigerating for a little while until ready to grill. Before grilling, coat the top of burger with seasoning again and then grill to desired perfection! (If adding cheese, put on top near end of grilling time to allow cheese to melt on top of patty.) Add condiments and enjoy!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Baking With LB... (Classic Chocolate Pecan Brownies)

So as many Americanos are aware that yesterday, January 8, 2010 was the night of the big football game between the infamously famous University of The Broken Horns and the even more famous school, University of Crimson Tide. Parties and gatherings were held for this was one ordeal to not be passed up. One could possibly say it is as famous as V-Day or even Halloween. My sister, LB, had gone to a friend's house to watch the big game, but it would not be classy to show up empty handed. Therefore it was decided that classic home-made brownies would go with her. Unfortunately due to the ever so suffering of school, I was too busy to make brownies for my sister so she was forced to make them out of a box. It was then decided I would make them today for an additional party that she would be attending.
These splendid and ever so delish brownies must be credited to my sister as much as they are to me. LB was right along side me stirring the faces on the chocolate until they swirled with the thick and luscious butter until smooth and glossy which then would make one indulge into these little devils only to beg for more.
This brownie can not even be compared to that of a box, because they are simply different. Yes, I do have to admit that boxed brownies can be quite good, but I do also have to admit that home-made brownies are somehow different and just flat out better. Maybe it is because love went into each ingredient? Or was it the fact that I was able to bond with my big sister before she went off to Bama for another semester? Whatever the reason, these classic brownies are to die for and the unsweetened chocolate makes for a great balance creating brownies that are rich and chocolatey, yet not to sweet for one's tooth.
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 and 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup pecans
Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit and line an 8 inch square glass baking pan with foil. In top of a double boiler set over barley simmering water, melt butter and chocolate together. Stir together until melted and smooth. Pour into a bigger bowl. Stir in sugar, vanilla, and salt. Stir in eggs one at a time and then the flour. Stir until very smooth and the mixture pulls away from sides of the bowl. Add the chopped nuts and pour batter in pan. Bake for about 25 minutes or until ready. While brownies are cooking, fill sink with one inch of water and lots of ice (making an "ice bath"). when brownies come out of oven put pan into ice bath avoiding water on any part of the brownies. Allow to cool completely. Cut and serve. (Best when warm). And enjoy! (Also brownies are always great with icecream!)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

KYLIE ASTLE'S Famous Rice Krispie Treats

Okay, so first off I absolutely have to start this blog post by giving ONE HUNDRED percent credit to my second sister Kylie Astle. She baked these krispie treats all her own in her very own kitchen and even came up with the chocolate peanut butter topping as her own little twist. I was no help what so ever for I didn't even know she was going to be baking such a wonderful treat until I noticed her by my winter fireplace as I was arriving home from school today and she was holding a box of these oh so delicious and chocolatey treats. I was so excited over these fab little desserts that I just had to post them for the world wide web to enjoy as well! She was so generous that I didn't even have to beg her to post these on my blog. So thank you Kyle Astle for allowing me to put up your dessert on my very own blog.

These rice krispie treats originated from a simple little recipe posted on the side of the snap, crackle, pop cereal box. However, with Kylie's twist these simple marshmellowy treats are turned upside down into a decadent and rich, chocolatey dessert which is swirled with a hint of peanut butter. The soft and sweet marshmallows are mixed with thick chocolate and peanut butter making for the perfect dessert mixture! As half will melt in your mouth, the other half of this treat will swirl around in ones mouth and linger on a bit letting you enjoy the sweet and savory taste this krispie treat serves.
 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 package (10 oz., about 40) regular marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies® (from Kellog's cereal)
6 blocks of almond bark
3 tablespoons of cooking oil
peanut butter to your tasting (as much as one desires!)
In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. Add KELLOGG'S RICE KRISPIES cereal. Stir until well coated. Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Allow to cool. Melt almond bark and stir until smooth. Stir in cooking oil and as much peanut butter as desired for your tasting (optional). Pour over rice krispies and let cool.(again) Cut into 2-inch squares. Best if served the same day, and enjoy!!
*Special thanks again to Kylie Astle*

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Not-So-Dreadful Break From my Blog (Skiing in Colorado)

As it has been stated I am a girl from Texas. In other words I am a girl that lives hand in hand with heat, Mr. Sun, heat, Mrs. Humidity, and oh did I mention heat? And sadly in my lifetime I can easily remember the exact days, where I exactly was, and what I was exactly doing on the three days that it has snowed in Houston, Texas in the past seventeen years. Yes, in 6,205 days it has snowed a whopping 3 days here in Houston, Texas. (And that is even stretching it considering the snow only falls for a few hours out of those days. And that is even if you would like to consider calling it snow considering as soon as it hits the heated sidewalks, the precipitation instantly changes into water.) So to no surprise I was expecting a not-so-white Christmas this year. But, thanks to some lovely friends I was able to experience a white New Years (and I'm talking at least a foot of white and not the "fake" almost half an inch white.)
On December 29, 2009 I was forced to put away my computer and say good bye to my blog for an entire week. However, in exchange I experienced the ultimate trip of my entire life. Now yes, this trip was amazing because I got to experience snow as well as snowboarding and skiing, but no trip is ever fun alone. And this was definitely the ultimate trip of my life because I not only got to spend it with Mr. Handsome, but his wonderful and amazing family and friends as well. From the hot tubbing in the snow to cooking warm Spaghetti Carbonara in the cozy log cabin, and from the long but short days of skiing to the endless hours of game nights; Winter Park, Colorado was packed down with not just a white blanket, but lot and lots of happy hearts and warm laughters. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly and truly did make this the ultimate winter vacation.

As I have experienced snow for I am a traveler and am not completely shunned from the majority of the world, Winter Park was truly a "Winter Wonderland" with isosceles dangling from roofs and snow topping each and every Christmas tree.

The view in Winter Park was simply stunning, and I could easily go on for hours describing every little detail of the most splendid vacation, but then the blog would become miles long and take days to read let alone view my many two hundred pictures taken over a total of seven days. However I do not mind bragging a bit about this fairy tale vacation, because yes, it was just that amazing. The food was superb,(each night a different group would cook some of the most exquisite food I have tasted in a long, long time) the skiing was frustrating at first (well at least snowboarding and the last mountain I went down, ha!) but was all worth it in the end for the adrenaline and excitement could not be resisted, the snow tubing was breezy and cold along with exciting and all around a blast, and simply being with such wonderful friends was indescribable for pictures could not even capture all the splendid and pure joy that spread from smile to smile to smile and yes, more smiles.

This blog post in not only for me to boast on and on about such a wonderful vacation that I was gratefully invited to by such amazing friends, but also to say thank you to those for absolutely everything and for taking me on one of my favorite and most fun trips of all times.
(And I am sorry Blake, but I just could not resist adding the picture of us in our matching Winter Park jackets :)