Sunday, January 30, 2011

Homemade Kool-Aid Pops

Yes, I am aware it's still January and while it may be extremely cold, even snowing, where you are, here in Texas it's a nice 85 degrees. It's, in turn, the best time for me to try to make these frozen pops.

Step One: Gather your supplies and Kool-Aid

You'll need cling wrap (if you have tin-foil, for the love of all things Holy, please use it instead!), as many 3 oz. Dixie cups as you want, just as many pop sticks and a pre-made canister of your favorite Kool-Aid.

Dixie now makes really cute cups! So, if you want something more eye catching that just plain white ones, you should be able to find a very nice variety.

Step Two: Set Out and Fill Cups

On a regular dinner plate, I was able to fit 8 cups comfortably.

I didn't fill them completely but you can pour as much as you like into the cup. If you want to do a multiple layer of flavors, pour about 1/3 of the cup full, follow the rest of the instructions, freeze completely and then add another flavor to it without having to re-wrap with Cling Wrap.

Step Three: Cover with Cling Wrap and Set Pop Sticks

Pull the cling wrap SUPER tight over the plate (do not use a plastic or paper plate for this!). Using a toothpick, prick a small hole directly above each cup and insert the pop stick into it. If you need to, once the sticks are in the cups, pull the cling wrap even tighter. It doesn't matter if the sticks are straight in the cups because, during freezing, they'll still be completely inserted into the pop. If you, however, want them to be super perfect, using tin foil will help keep the sticks in place MUCH better.

Once it's all done, place into the freezer. Freezing time varies but, personally, I say keep them in for about 24 hours, if possible, or at least overnight so they can become completely solid.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Caramel Vanilla Rice Krispie Treats

Classic rice krispie treats are something, I think, most American children remember from their childhood. Two basic ingredients come together to create one of the most rich and delicious sticky snacks anyone could ever dream up.

Now, in the aisle where you used to find either just plain sacks of marshmallows or Jet Puff spread, you can now find something a bit different; flavored marshmallows. Kraft has started production on sets of "swirled" flavored marshmallows that most definitely could add a little something extra to your next batch of cereal/marshmallow treats.

Since I wanted to make these extra delicious, I bought the following items: rice cereal ($2.48), 2 packages of Kraft Jet Puffed Caramel Vanilla SwirlMallows ($1 per bag) and used some of the chocolate chips I had bought for another project as garnish.

Step One: Pour your marshmallows and a bit of butter into a large pan.

Pour both packages into the pan and set the pan onto the heat. Use the time it takes for them to start to melt to spray a 13x9 inch baking dish with cooking oil or, if you're feeling the spirit of Paula Deen, you can always coat it with butter.

Step Two: Melt your marshmallows and butter

This process takes a little while to complete if you are like me and impatient. Stir the marshmallows around the pot every 30 seconds to make sure they all melt down. It may seem like it's taking forever but, in reality, it only takes about 5 to 7 minutes, if that!

Once the marshmallows are almost completely melted down, remove from heat and continue to stir the marshmallow mixture until it is.

Step Four: Add the cereal

This is where stuff gets hard. Literally! Fold the cereal into the marshmallow mixture until it's completely incorporated. The mixture may get hard and stick to the pot but, don't worry to much about it. Allowing the pan to soak in extremely hot water for a few minutes once you get the rice mixture into the baking sheet will loosen it all up and make clean up extra easy.

Step Five: Pour into the baking sheet:

If you have someone around that isn't doing much of anything, have them either hold the pot for you while you scoop the mixture out or vice versa. Use a metal spatula sprayed with cooking oil in order to spread the mixture out without the back of it sticking. Sprinkle the top with chocolate bits and allow it to cool for an hour

Step Six: Cut into squares and chow down!

Cut the pieces as big, or small, as you wish and enjoy!

*Note: Kraft SwirlMallows also come in chocolate/vanilla swirl, strawberry/vanilla swirl and seasonal gingerbread. You can buy them at your local grocery store for the same price as the plain ones.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares with Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting

All this week, I agonized over what to make for weekend treats. I didn't really feel like doing a lot of baking but I really wanted chocolate chip cookies. Who doesn't love them, right?

So, this morning, I took my $20 (that is all I allot for baking per week) and went to the store. I knew I already had most of what I would need to make basic stuff but, really, I was extremely lazy. So, I decided to just buy a roll of chocolate chip cookie dough ($3.25) and an 8 oz package of cream cheese ($1.75) and went home to figure something out.

I knew I wanted to make a cookie tart and needed some frosting. Because my mother was nice enough to buy a jar of Nutella the last time she was in the city, I knew I had to include it somehow. And so, my chocolate chip cookie tart was born!

Step One: Gather ingredients

You need one tube of chocolate chip cookie dough (or make your favorite recipe, if you are feeling up to it), 2 cups of powdered sugar, 1/2 stick of room temp. butter, 1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese and 1/2 cup of Nutella. Pre-heat your oven to 350.

Step Two: Release the dough

Cut the dough (make sure it's thawed!) out of the tube or, if you have made your dough, put it into whichever kind of baking dish you want. You can use an actual tart pan or, like me, use an 8x8 inch glass baking dish.

Step Three: Smooth out dough

Make sure the dough is evenly spread out in the pan. You can use your fingers or the bottom of a smooth glass in order to do so. Place inside the oven and bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until the cookie is done.

Step Four: Make the frosting

Just like when you're making normal butter cream frosting, cream together the powdered sugar, butter pieces and cream cheese. It's going to be THICK! To make sure it's thin enough to actually work with, pour in about a teaspoon of vanilla. Once it's incorporated, add in 1/3 of a cup of the Nutella. Beat it in the stand mixer, or with your handmixer, and then, using a spatula, manually fold in the remaining Nutella. Or, you can add more of it to fit your taste. Do NOT put it in the fridge. Leave it out because you will need it to stay at a nice spreading consistency.

Step Five: Let your cookie cool

 Once you pull it out of the oven, allow the cookie to cool for about half an hour.

Step Six: Spread on the frosting:

Evenly spread the frosting over your cookie base. Once you have that done to your liking, place in the fridge until you're ready to serve it or, at the very least, for one hour.

Step Seven: ENJOY!

I know I sure did!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Vanilla Graham Cracker Pudding Pops

I tried, as a test, to make some pudding pops using the plastic pop molds my mother had sitting in her freezer. The pudding, caramel and graham cracker combination was delicious. Eating it from the plastic, however, didn't happen because they didn't freeze into the pudding the way they should have.

Still, I can't just let you go without the recipe if you want to try them as regular pudding cups or frozen (in small Dixie cups and wooden sticks).

You need:
  • 1 small box of instant vanilla pudding
  • 2 cups of super cold (not frozen) milk
  • Crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • Caramel sauce of your choice
 Whisk the pudding and milk together until it starts to become a bit thicker than water, about 2 minutes. Immediately pour the molds (if you're freezing them) and layer with graham cracker crumbs and caramel, parfait style.

If you are just going to make an unfrozen parfait style pudding cup, put the pudding into the fridge to set, about 5 minutes. When it's thick, spoon into a cup or bowl, or even ramekin, then layer it parfait style with the graham cracker crumbs and caramel sauce.

I am going to take you step by step through a similar thing next weekend when I make Fruity Pebble Pudding Cups.

Until then, enjoy!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Homemade Brown Sugar Body Scrub

Winter is horrible on everyone's skin, including my own. I went in search of a really good sugar scrub that would help get my skin back to being even remotely healthy. Thing was, every single place I looked, decided that sugar scrub should cost a small fortune. If I were rich, that wouldn't be such a problem.

Sadly, I'm not rich and I have to keep on a tight budget just like a lot of other people do these days. So, after nixing the idea of buying a pre-made scrub, I opted to try to find a recipe for one that I could make at home without having to buy special ingredients for. I wanted something that's all natural and easy to put together. I found it!

Here it goes! How to make brown sugar body scrub:

Step #1: Get your ingredients together

You need some light brown sugar, olive oil (I used extra virgin) and some white sugar. How much of what you need depends entirely on just how much you want to make and how big your containers are. Which brings us to the next step.

Step #2: Find a manageable sized container

I bought this 4-pack of 1.2 cup sized Rubber Maid Take-Away containers for $2.50. They're the perfect size for a small, personal batch. But, since I wanted to make one for my mom, my aunt, and cousin to try as well, they're also great for transporting without having to worry about them dropping and breaking as glass jars would.

Step #3: Measure out brown sugar

In each little container, I scooped 1/3 of a cup of brown sugar into the bottom. You will have to adjust the measurement based solely on how big your own container is but, be careful not to add too much. You want both sugars to be in an even amount and have enough room to be able to stir the oil in without making a giant mess. Small ones are what we aim for.

Step #4: Measure out the white sugar

Again, this is 1/3 of a cup of white sugar. Adjust the measurement for your own container.

Step #5: Mix together

Using a fork, try to whisk the sugars together. If you are using a larger container, go ahead and use an actual whisk to do it.

Step #6: Pour in oil and mix

Using the same fork you used to whisk the sugars together, stir the oil into the sugar. You don't want to add too much oil to the mixture. You basically want just enough to make the whole thing look damp. I didn't really measure out how much of the oil I used, though, the amount was probably close to 1 1/2 or 2 tablespoons for each container.

Step #7: Cap containers and give them away

You are done! Go ahead and screw the lids on the containers SUPER tight and give them to whomever you wish. Or keep them all. Enjoy!