S’mores Treats

I’m gonna make this short and sweet, because I’m still sick, and mighty irritated about it. My apologies in advance.

The long and short of it is: s’mores + rice krispie treats = awesomeness. Why I have never made these before, I have no idea… but I will be making them again and again and again, and I will also be adding 50 cents to a special jar every time I eat one, to save up for some bigger pants.

S'mores Treats

S’mores Treats
makes one 8×8 pan of treats

5 T salted butter
1 ten ounce bag of large marshmallows*
5 cups Golden Grahams cereal
1/2 cup marshmallow bits**
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

*you can certainly use a 10oz bag of mini marshmallows here, if that’s what you have on hand. But, regardless of size, the marshmallows are coated in a bunch of junk to keep them from sticking together – and the more of that coating you have, the harder it is to get the marshmallows to melt into a nice “sauce”. So, fewer, bigger marshmallows means less junk getting in the way of them melting nicely. It’s science, man.

**so, I randomly came across marshmallow bits in Target a few weeks back. Essentially, it’s just a round, parmesan-cheese-like container, and it’s filled with tiny, crunchy marshmallows! They are exactly the same ones that used to come in hot chocolate packages – and maybe they still do, but my experience with those packets ends somewhere around the mid-90s, so in my mind, those mini crunchy marshmallows exist only in my childhood. Anyways – they are delightful, and they make for an adorable topping for these treats. If you can’t find them, or think they’re kind of gross (in which case I am sad for you), you can just sprinkle some regular mini marshmallows on top of the treat. They’ll look kind of gigantic, but still taste delicious. (I found them in the baking aisle, near the regular marshmallows.)

1.) In a large pot set over medium low heat, melt the butter. Once the butter is melted, add the marshmallows, stirring to coat with the butter, and stir until all the marshmallows have melted completely.

S'mores Treats

2.) Remove the pot from the heat, and add in the cereal. Use a rubber spatula to mix everything together, until all the cereal is evenly coated in the marshmallow butter mixture.

3.) Spray an 8×8 pan with non-stick cooking spray, and scoop the cereal/marshmallow mixture into the pan. Use a rubber spatula to spread the mixture around as evenly as you can, pressing it gently to even it out. Pick any abandoned, marshmallow-coated golden grahams off the side of the pot, the back of the spatula, or the countertop, and eat them immediately.

4.) Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips and marshmallow bits over the top of the treats, and then let the treats cool COMPLETELY. The chocolate chips will get a little melty when they hit the warm treats, so you want to leave them undisturbed until they cool, so they hold their shape and look nice. (This is why I couldn’t mix the chocolate chips into the treats – they would have just melted and made the whole thing a dark brown blob of a mess.)

5.) Once they’ve cooled, cut them into squares, and serve. Enjoy!

S'mores Treats

These are incredibly delicious. Dare I say, they are more delicious than rice krispie treats AND regular s’mores! Thank goodness, there is finally a decent use for that weird Golden Grahams cereal that’s managed to hang on for all these years.

I am accepting donations of kleenex and NyQuil,
Tina

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Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

This probably makes me a bad Pinterest/internet user, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a whoopie pie. They are EVERYWHERE on the internet, in hundreds of flavor combinations – there are even entire books written about whoopie pies! For some reason, I never felt compelled to give the whoopie pie trend a whirl, until this past weekend. I was making a couple kinds of chili for dinner with some friends, and I wanted a dessert that worked well with the fall feeling of chili and football – and pumpkin whoopie pies sounded like the perfect fit.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

For some reason, it didn’t occur to me that the cake part of a whoopie pie would be… cakey? I know, I know – Mensa is sure to be revoking my membership at any moment. Turns out a whoopie pie is basically like two cookie-shaped cupcakes, sandwiched together with frosting – making it infinitely easier and less messy to eat! Pretty genius, really.

These whoopie pies have a moist, heavily spiced pumpkin cake, and a sweet maple-y filling. As a bonus, they’re incredibly easy to make!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling
makes approximately 1 dozen whoopie pies

For the cakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon molasses
1 egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil

For the filling:
8oz cream cheese, at room temp
1 stick of salted butter, at room temp
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons maple syrup

*For the cakes, it’s really helpful to have a cookie scoop (1 tablespoon size) with a release mechanism. This ensures that the cakes will be uniform in size and shape (which makes sandwiching them easier), and it also alleviates some of the messiness of working with a very soft cake batter.

1.) Preheat your oven to 350°. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. In another bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, pumpkin, molasses, egg, and vegetable oil.

2.) Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and whisk the two together until everything is evenly combined.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

3.) Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat liners. Use a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop to scoop the batter onto the sheets, leaving a few inches of space in between them. Bake the cakes, one sheet at a time, for about 12-15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out clean, and the top of the cake springs back when you touch it.

4.) While the cakes bake, make the filling. Add the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and maple syrup to a bowl, and use a hand mixer or stand mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment) to beat the ingredients together until they’re well-combined, and the mixture is smooth.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

5.) Once the cakes are baked, and completely cooled, put the filling into a large ziploc bag. Cut one of the corners of the bag off, so you have about a 1/2″ opening, and pipe the filling onto the flat side of half of the cakes. Top the filling with the other half of the cakes.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

The whoopie pies will keep fairly well for a couple days, in a tightly covered container. I’d refrigerate them if you can, but they should be fine if you can’t. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t expect them to last long enough to need refrigeration!

Now I’m a little pissed that I didn’t pick up some apple cider to accompany these,
Tina

Bacon Corn Chowder

FINALLY, fall weather is upon us! We’ve had kind of a wonky summer up here in the Mitten – a few cooler-than-normal weekends in July and August, a lot of rain, and some weird, hotter-than-hell days where they shouldn’t have been. As an example, this past Wednesday. There is no reason in this world that Wednesday should have had a high of 95 degrees (with a heat index of about 100°), but it did, and it was kind of awful. Thankfully, the last couple days have brought some storms that have dragged in a cool front – and our high today is 61°! The temperatures are going to be in the low 40s tonight! (Maybe you think I’m nuts for being excited about that – but that is some perfect windows-open, blankets-piled-on-the-bed, my-face-is-so-cold-I-can’t-feel-it, sleeping weather.)

Anyways, the onset of chillier weather always makes me crave soup. A big bowl of soup and a Michigan football game is a perfect Saturday afternoon combination, if you ask me! In reality, I made this soup back in early August – when it should have been 100 degrees and humid, but it was 65° and pouring rain. Go figure!

Bacon Corn Chowder

This soup is nice and hearty, smoky and sweet, and delicious with some toasted, cheesy bread for dipping.

Bacon Corn Chowder
Makes 8-12 servings, depending on size

6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 medium russet potatoes (about 2lb) cut into 1/2″ dice
8 cobs of corn (about 3 cups of kernels)
4-6 cups of whole milk
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 T cornstarch
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

1.) Heat a large pot over medium heat. Cook the bacon until crisp, and remove it with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour off all but one tablespoon of the bacon grease.

2.) Add the onion and garlic, and sweat them until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.

3.) Add the corn and potatoes to the pan, along with the salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, and stir to combine everything. Pour the whole milk in, adding as much as you need to cover all the potatoes and corn (I used about 5 cups). Allow the soup to come up to a boil, and immediately reduce it to a simmer.

Bacon Corn Chowder

4.) Once the soup is simmering, whisk the cornstarch and a tablespoon of milk together in a small dish. Pour the slurry into the soup, and stir it in – this will help the soup thicken up a bit. Allow the soup to simmer for about 30 minutes until it’s slightly thickened, and the potatoes are cooked through.

5.) Taste the potatoes for seasoning – if a potato tastes a little bland, add more salt to taste. Add the bacon back into the pot just before serving.

Just because I like you guys, I’m going to offer you a little pro tip: check to be sure there is a shaker top on your bottle of red pepper flakes, before you shake it over the soup pot. If there’s NOT, you’re going to spend the next five minutes playing a little game called “Do You Think I Fished Enough Pepper Flakes Out Of The Soup, Or Will It Still Light Our Tongues On Fire?” And while that is certainly a way to pass some time on a rainy day, I can’t say I’d recommend it.

Bacon Corn Chowder

This soup would be a great way to kick off the fall season! It keeps well in the fridge for a few days, and I think it would hold up nicely in a crock pot, if you wanted to make it for a tailgate or something similar.

You know what else is a perfect fall food? Cider Mill Donut Bread Pudding!
Tina

Creamy Artichoke and Jalapeño Dip

I love to have some quick and easy appetizer ideas to keep in my back pocket – ideally, recipes that use things I typically have in my fridge or pantry, so that they’re easy to throw together at the last minute without a trip to the grocery store. This dip is just that – it takes less than 5 minutes to put together, it’s full of ingredients I almost always have in the house, and is customizable to accommodate for whatever you might be missing!

Creamy Artichoke and Jalapeño Dip

Creamy Artichoke and Jalapeño Dip
adapted pretty liberally from here
makes about 2 cups

1 can of artichoke hearts, packed in water
1 large jalapeño, seeded and roughly chopped
6-8 pickled jalapeño rings
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1-2 cloves of garlic
4 oz cream cheese
2 T mayonnaise
a splash of the jalapeño pickle water
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Creamy Artichoke and Jalapeño Dip

Toss everything into the bowl of a food processor; pulse until everything is well-combined, but still a bit chunky. (You can taste test it and check the spice level at this point; I found this amount of jalapeño had just an edge of spice, so you can certainly add more pickled and/or fresh jalapeños if you want it to be hotter.)

Creamy Artichoke and Jalapeño Dip

You can go ahead and serve the dip immediately, or cover it and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready for it. We’ve eaten it with pretzel chips, but it would certainly go well with any kind of cracker or chip you have in the house (wheat thins, ritz crackers, pita chips, ruffled potato chips, etc). I’m already dreaming up different ways to use it – as a sandwich spread, combined with some monterey jack in a grilled cheese, as the “sauce” on a white pizza. I’m gonna need to make some more pretty quick, I think.

Did you ever think you’d see me post a recipe with only one step?
Tina