rice crispy cake pops

4th of July Rice Crispy Treat Pops

rice crispy cake pops

All week, I have been perusing the internet with all of the fun treats that the 4th of July has to offer. I looked at drinks, ice pops, cakes shaped as flags, and yesterday finally decided on Rice Crispy Treat Pops drizzled in white chocolate and coated in festive, color appropriate sprinkles. This decision was based on a couple of main reasons:

1. They are quick and easy to make. I wasn’t in the mood for a large project, but I did want to make something.

2. Cute was on the menu. I really wanted something that was cute.

3. Rice Crispy treats are universal. I haven’t really met too many people in the world that don’t like the treat. This would make it easy to share with my neighbors and their kids. Plus my husband and I can have a treat for the holiday!

I modified the recipe I found online at http://www.ricekrispies.com/recipes/rice-krispies-treats-on-a-stick because I like my treats to be way gooier with marshmallows.

Melt 6 Tbl butter in medium pan on low(isn) heat. Melt 6 cups small marshmallows with butter. Take off heat and add 5-6 cups Rice Crispy Treats. Greese hands and roll rice crispy mix onto balls around 2 inches round. Add a stick and drizzle melted white chocolate and sprinkle with sprinkles. Place atop small cupcake liners and place in fridge to cool chocolate. Makes around 18 pops.

Side note: I tried 2 different kinds of sticks and I can tell you the thicker ones were the more solid choice for this treat.

Enjoy, ‘Merica.

Day #7 – 7-Day Sandwich Challenge – Ice Cream Sandwich

Source: Churro Borough Instagram: http://instagram.com/churroboroughla

Source: Churro Borough Instagram: http://instagram.com/churroboroughla

 

Our sandwich challenge winds down today with something a little ‘sweeter’ and less savory than our past features. The churro ice cream sandwich hit the social waves like a storm when a spotlight was shown on pop up Churro Borough out of LA and this is one trend that has me excited for a variety of reasons.

The concept of incorporating 2 of my favorite topics – street art and street food and merging them together to make a tasty ‘sandwich’ treat had me upon first glance. Now some of you might argue that this is more of a dessert than a meal, and I’m not going to argue the point that this is not going to give you the nutrition you need to get through the day, however it is a great treat for any hot summer, and well it is technically a sandwich so it made it to the list!

So what exactly is the churro ice cream sandwich you wonder? Well, it’s just like the name implies.

The definition of Churro according to the Oxford Dictionary is a latin American snack consisting of a strip of fried dough, very similar to funnel cake.

Source: Churro Borrough Explore Gallery http://www.churroborough.com/explore

Source: Churro Borrough Explore Gallery http://www.churroborough.com/explore

Instead of making them into long strips, chef Sylvia Yoo pipes the dough into round shapes reminiscent of the cinnamon roll to make the outside of the sandwich. The inside is not as vanilla as you might expect as she incorporates such inventive styles and concepts that you will be wowed with the inside as much as you are with the outside. The flavors change based upon the day or season and you can find anything from blueberry, black sesame, creme fraiche (always think of South Park here, I can’t help it) to orange creamsicle, strawberry buttercream, or peach cobbler to name a few.

 

Since I am geographically lucky enough to live in South Florida, I welcome this trend and I look forward to someone like Azucar Ice Cream Company in Little Havana in Miami, FL to come up with their own take on this amazing summer treat.

Day #4 & 5 – 7-Day Sandwich Challenge – Southwest Breakfast Sandwich

Today will be a double feature since yesterday’s post never went out, and the focus will be on 2 different breakfast sandwiches I’ve found along the way from 2 of my favorite cities – New York and Chicago. They are both very similar in that they have the southwestern style but with 2 separate spins completely.

When I lived in NYC, I was introduced to a little slice of country nestled right in the heart of the city in Gramercy Park called Friend of a Farmer. I used to bring everyone here when they would come into town as it’s such a quaint little place, and the food is a hearty way to start out a long day of walking around exploring the city. They have a southwestern breakfast burrito which if you know me at all, you know that I love tobasco and salsa with my eggs. I’m not a big hot sauce fan to begin with because it typically alters the taste of the dish but since I don’t love eggs, it works well to mask some of what I don’t like about the taste. In between a burrito, they have scrambled eggs, guacamole, sour cream and cheese, with a side of salsa and potatoes. I don’t know if I like this burrito so much more because of the ambiance, the fact that it’s served in a cast iron pan, or that they serve a delish homemade salsa with it. Either way, this one is special!

The second breakfast sandwich was recently discovered last summer in Chicago at a chain cafe called Corner Bakery Cafe. For those of you that have never visited one of these places, it’s sorta like Panera Bread but better by a long shot. There they offer a variety of breakfast and lunch items, and some sandwiches on the lighter side like the Avocado and Spinach Power Panini Thin. photoIt has scrambled eggs, cheese, avocado, salsa and I douse it with tobasco. You can easily take this to go and eat it on the train, bus, or while walking to your office. It’s not too much when you’re in the middle of a work week, and it’s just enough to give you that boost of energy to get on with your morning.

 

Happy Friday, and hope you enjoy your own versions of the southwestern breakfast sandwiches this weekend ahead.

 

Day #3 – 7-Day Sandwich Challenge – The Muffuletta Sandwich

muffalletaFor anyone that has ever experienced the glory of New Orleans cuisine, you have naturally been exposed to the Crawfish Étouffée, the Beignets, and of course the Muffuletta sandwich.  You’ve perhaps even a tried a Hurricane for good measure to slurp it all down with. I’ll never forget trying all of the above and the imprint that has left with me over 14 years later! In my avid traveling through the years, there are a few places that I’ve left a piece of my heart in and upon further visits fall in love over and over with each time I visit. And New Orleans happens to be one of those places. When I think about what made me fall in love with the city back in 2000 originally, it all came down to the food. From experiencing Commanders Palace, to dining at each of Emeril’s restaurants repeatedly, to eating the muffuletta standing up at Central Grocery Store and licking my fingers from the oil dripping from the sandwich all over them, it was the food that made it for me, and the culture and art that were secondary. We even named one of our furry friends NOLA after the city!

The Muffuletta is an Italian girl just like me’s dream sandwich. Firstly, it’s stacked high on italian bread with sesame seeds on it. In between the bread is a symphony of meats, cheeses, and olive spread that will send you off into the stratosphere for that period of time while eating it.

For point of reference, it has:

  • mortadella, thinly sliced
  • ham, thinly sliced
  • Genoa salami, thinly sliced
  • Mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • Provolone cheese,sliced
  • olive salad with oil (this is made up of about 12 odd different ingredients)

You can attempt to replicate it at home and you could come close but nothing beats standing in the French Quarter with one of these things dripping all over the place. If you don’t already know, put this on your bucket list and experience it for yourself.

Day #2 – 7-Day Sandwich Challenge – The Ramen Noodle Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Holy cow, I’ve hit the holy grail of all sandwiches, and you have to try it! I have forever had an intimate relationship with ramen noodles. It started just like most with the college budget and my love of all things noodle, but it has survived the test of time and over time has evolved into a more expanded use. From restaurant ordering at Korean or Japanese restaurants to reinventing dishes at home, the ramen can swiftly move from low budget to high society. Everyone from the starving college student to the most refined chef are incorporating it into meals.

We’ve all seen the ramen burger by now. It should make perfect sense to me because I love both ramen and burgers. But the texture, the consistency, just everything really is wrong about that combination – thumbs down indeed and do over. We’ve also seen the ramen inserted in between bread with a whole host of accompaniments. Let’s face it – bread with ramen – No and No. Any questions? I didn’t think so.

 

RamenGrilledCheese2

Photo taken from Dude Foods

It wasn’t until recently when Dude Foods posted the Ramen Noodle Grilled Cheese Sandwich that the skies opened up for me in this genre. WHAT!? Are you kidding me? This thing is ridiculous. The ramen is the bread and the cheese inside melts in-between the noodles soaking it all in. This just makes perfect sense texturally and the taste well it’s not your typical grilled cheese but it is a fine sandwich on it’s own right. Will it be on my weekly shuffle? Not exactly, but I will do it again. And probably again after that.

This sandwich had to make the list, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Day #1 – 7-Day Sandwich Challenge – Leftover Chicken Sandwich

In America, we love our sandwiches. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack, there are no boundaries with what we will sink our teeth into regarding this genre. We have certain expectations, and they must be met in order to qualify as a sandwich we will pay top dollar for. The bread must be fresh, the meat and veggies plentiful, and the exact right amount of condiment to complete the package.

Or we can make our own at home. Which is what I do, a lot. Today we are going to feature a sandwich that has become a favorite of mine, and was conceptualized based upon what I had readily available to throw in my bag to bring to the office that day. It turned out so well, and fit into our weekly routine that it became a staple. There is nothing here out of the ordinary, it’s just a simply made sandwich done well.

Side note: There has been a running joke about my sandwich making skills at the office because I always bring the ingredients and then I assemble them at lunchtime when I’m ready to eat. This comes from my days in school where I would always eat everything but my sandwich and trade it for something better from a friend nearby. I never liked the taste of a sandwich sitting in between bread soaking up all of the condiments, meat and cheese so there ya go! I am a little bit of a sandwich snob! And have always been.

Almost every week, we have chicken tacos. Taco Monday, Taco Tuesday, every day is good for taco day. I love them, they are easy to make, and we usually have left over chicken from it. Today we feature the Leftover Chicken Sandwich. I didn’t invent this – just merely showcasing what can be done with existing leftovers outside of their original purpose.

Chicken Preparation:
Add chipotle or mexican chili spices, olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh lime juice in the chicken marinade. Sometimes fresh chopped cilantro, too. The chicken breasts cook on the George Forman Grill as directed and then we chop the chicken up into really small pieces (not chunks). Of course, you could substitute this out for shrimp, beef, fish, etc.

The Rest of the Sandwich Preparation:
You can use whatever bread you have on hand or prefer. I like the multi-grain bread thinly sliced from my local grocer (Publix) but whatever’s cleaver. I’ll usually buy a loaf and freeze it, only to take out the pieces I need for the day (by lunch they will be defrosted!). I top the bread with the chopped up chicken, and add shredded cheese (I use the four cheese blend from Publix – really any type of colby/cheddar shredded cheese would be fine). I chop up some fresh avocado (I use Hass), and lastly finish it off with some baby spinach. I don’t actually use any sort of condiment here as the avocado more than suffices for adding a creamier texture to balance out the dryness of the rest of the sandwich. I would imagine a chipotle mayo being a good addition if you must!

Once assembled, I cut it in 1/2 and it feels as if a food truck camped out in front of the office and delivered a freshly made sandwich to me at that moment!~

Reinventing leftovers with items already available in my kitchen allows me to save time and money, but still enjoy a lunch that feels like something people pay top dollar for made by someone else. Hope you enjoy!

Day #10 – 10-Day Unique Food Snack Challenge – Dulces Vero Mango

 

Day #10 – 10-Day Unique Food Snack Challenge – Dulces Vero Mango

Today we conclude our 10 day unique food snack challenge with a snack that by far out-weirds the rest- the Dulce Vero Mango from Mexico. The name implies that it might be more of a treat than a snack but I can assure you this is not a treat you’d be readily giving your child to congratulate him/her on a day well done at summer camp.

There is a sweet mango center but getting there is the challenge. The outer hard shell that covers the sweetness is chili and salt. Once you (if you can) lick through the shell, you then have the mango flavored treat which actually instead resembles peach more than mango. Either way, if you are ok with somewhat spicy mixed with sweet, this could be your next adventure. It’s not exactly healthy so I’d say this might not make it to the weekly snack list. Go on, give it a whirl. Step outside of your snack eating box and try something truly unique.

Origin: Mexico

Translation: True Mango Sweet

Good For: something different, treat, salty, spicy, sweet snack

Available: Sams Club, Online, Speciality Grocers

Thanks for all of the positive feedback on the unique food snack challenge. Next week, we’ll embark on a whole new challenge. The format will change to 7 days, and no hints on where we’re going next other than it’ll be related to food or wine.

 

 

Day #9 – 10-Day Unique Food Snack Challenge – Burger Rings

Day #9 – 10-Day Unique Food Snack Challenge – Burger Rings

My very first trip to the UK grocery store a decade ago first opened my eyes to the fact that outside of America, cultures really like to have fun with their chip or crisp flavors. Sure, we in America have sriracha flavored this or jalapeño flavored that chip, but these flavors pale in comparison with what other cultures deem ‘inventive and creative’ flavored crisps.

Today, we travel to Australia to feature the Burger Rings. Just like the name implies, these snacks pack a flavor reminiscent of yes you guessed it, a hamburger. Locally, these are a treat or snack that is as regular as eating Funyuns in America. Feeling a little hungover, or in need or a hearty mid-afternoon snack, the Burger Rings could be the answer!burgerringz

Now the question remains, where on earth can I get ahold of these bizzarro treats in America? Or do I have to travel to Australia or New Zealand to sink my teeth into this burger flavored wrongness? I mean, after all, the company that owns them is PepsiCo – couldn’t they at least test market these in a country that embraces the hamburger as one of it’s national dishes?

Leave a comment if you know, as the verdict is still out. Otherwise, I might have to dust off my passport and add this to my bucket list!

Origin: Australia

Good For:  when you can’t find a burger, mid-afternoon snack, hungover

 

 

 

Day #8 – 10-Day Unique Food Snack Challenge – Good Morning Lassi

zz992fullmoon

Today is Friday the 13th, and we also have the added pleasure of a full moon; something that we won’t experience again for another 35 years. I’m spooked indeed as that combination sends my superstition into high gear.

With the week winding down, and a weekend ahead, Friday’s typically call for a heavy dose of caffeine on the front end of the day. With today feeling like a day that belongs in the fall, it only seemed appropriate to feature the Good Morning Lassi to fend off all evil.

The definition of Lassi according to the Oxford Dictionary is:
A sweet or savory Indian drink made from a yogurt or buttermilk base with water.

I found this really incredible recipe on Food52 that is perfect for today! The Good Morning Lassi has coffee-infused iced cubes and some really fallish feeling spices that will transport you on this spooky day to give you that ghoulish nostalgia. You’re welcome in advance.goodmorninglassi

Photo Taken from Food52

Photo Taken from Food52

Ingredients
infused coffee ice cubes, crushed
cup thick plain Greek yogurt
ounce fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed, optional
seeds from 1 cardamom pod, crushed, optional
sprinkle of fresh grated nutmeg
dash of cinnamon
teaspoon fresh orange zest
teaspoon fresh lemon zest
tablespoons maple syrup
fresh fig or other comparable small fruit of your choice, diced, optional
garnish with selected spices from the ingredient list

Directions
Combine all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. 
Pour into glasses. Garnish with a selection of spice. 

Origin: India

Good For:  Friday 13th, Fall Days, Nostalgic Moments

 

Day #7 – 10-Day Unique Food Snack Challenge – Spanish Fig and Almond Balls

Spain is the second largest producer and exporter of almonds behind the United States. Almond growth is prevalent in Spain’s mediterranean regions such as Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, Andalusia, Valencia, Murcia, and Aragón.

Today, we are going to feature a mash up of tradition and modern influences of a really tasty snack called the Spanish Fig and Almond Ball. This is going to be a more time consuming snack to prepare, but completely worth it and it will last you a couple of months.

Almond Ingredients
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 pound whole blanched almonds

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300°.
Combine olive oil, paprika, salt, cumin, and almonds in a large bowl.
Spread evenly in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 300° for 35 minutes.
Cool to room temperature and set aside while you gather your ingredients to form the balls.

 

figalmondballs

Photo taken from Good Food

Ingredients for Balls
2 cups pack dried whole figs, hard stalk and centre of base removed
1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped into small pieces
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 tbsp brandy
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp cloves, ground
1/3 cup sesame seeds, toasted

Directions

Blend the almonds until finely chopped. Place in large bowl. Chop the figs, and blend to a smooth sticky paste. Place paste onto the almonds, and mix together with your hands incorporating the dried fruit, brandy, honey and cloves.

Put the sesame seeds onto a plate. Roll the balls in them until covered. Cover the tray loosely with a clean towel.
Leave the fig balls to dry for a week before packaging in a tupperware container.
Will keep in a cool place for 2 months.