Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Homemade Pop Tarts


Almost everything I make is homemade.

Almost everything I make is from scratch.



I do this because I enjoy cooking and baking.
I also do this because I like to know all the ingredients that go into what I’m eating.  


If I had all the time in the world, everything my husband and I eat would be homemade from fresh and organic ingredients.  I can only imagine the day where I have a full vegetable and herb garden in my backyard.  And I wake up every morning and go to the chicken coop to pick up some fresh eggs.  One day this will happen.  This is one day that I wait for… 


Although I can’t bake and cook everything from scratch, I still try to do everything I can.  Lately I have been on kick on making fun homemade snacks.  Granola Bars, Marshmallows, Graham Crackers, Mochi… and now Pop Tarts!


Pop Tarts were so much fun to make!  They remind me so much of my childhood.  I loved pop tarts as a child – and older! – especially the brown sugar kinds.  They were one of my go-to snacks for a really long time.  So when I thought about making them homemade I got very excited!

 

Pop tarts are composed of a flaky pastry dough (similar to a pie crust) that are filled with any type of fillings you like.  The most common are brown sugar and jam.  And of course these are my favorite.  However, you can fill them with nutella, caramel… really anything your heart desires :).  This is what makes pop tarts so fun!

Sometimes you think that there are those items that just taste so good when purchased at the store – like marshmallows.  I totally thought that store-bought marshmallows are hard to beat, but I got that wrong fast!  Homemade marshmallows are soooo much better!  And ice cream sandwiches.  Ice cream sandwiches are brought to a whole new level when made with homemade ice cream and cookies.  And now there are pop tarts!  I always thought that store-bought pop tarts are too good in the stores to beat anything else.  But I was wrong again!  Fresh, flaky, and homemade pop tarts are far more amazing than their store-bought counterpart.  


Homemade pop tarts are not only a great snack, but are a perfect treat in the morning.   Have it on the go while rushing out to work.  Or have it while your reading your morning newspaper with a cup of coffee (or milk!).  Wait… do people read the newspaper anymore?  Maybe its better to say while your watching the morning news on TV.  Or surfing the Internet in the morning.  Whatever you are doing, a homemade pop tart is the perfect companion!  


Enjoy these sweet treats :)!


 




Monday, May 30, 2011

Strawberry and Blueberry Shortcake Tart


Happy Memorial Day!

This post is dedicated to our troops who have risked their lives for our freedom and safety – Thank you!   

Especially to my brother-in-law, who is currently an active Marine and has been fighting for our county for 10 years.







I’m presenting you with this light and summery Memorial Day dessert.  It’s perfect for a day out at the beach or park, to cap off that yummy barbecue, or to just enjoy on a hot summer night.  And with the red, white, and blue color scheme, it showcases the colors of our American flag.  And reminds you of the reason you get this relaxing 3-day weekend.  


This is a Strawberry and Blueberry Shortcake Tart.  A cornmeal shortcake crust is filled with a light whipped cream, and topped with fresh strawberries and blueberries.  Yummy!


This dessert is a spin on a traditional strawberry shortcake.  Whipped cream and fresh fruit are included, but the shortcake is different.  The main difference being that cornmeal is added to the dough.  This adds a textural element that works perfectly with the light whipped cream.  This shortcake dough is then rolled out and fitted into a tart pan.  


This tart is both easy and tasty.  The shortcake tart dough is easy to put together, and the whipped cream takes minutes to make.  I made and assembled this dessert in about an hour.  And the ending result is fantastic!  A perfectly light dessert that is great for summer!


Make this dessert for Memorial Day, or any summer day!  You will love this fantastic, stunning, and delicious summer tart!
 

 



Friday, May 27, 2011

Mochi


I make dessert every night.  I know that’s probably not the healthiest thing, but it’s what I enjoy doing and I love dessert!  As we should all know by now :).  I eat very healthy all day and let myself enjoy a small dessert at night. 


With all the desserts I make, there are definitely those days that I just want to go down the street and get frozen yogurt.  There’s no surprise that I love ice cream and frozen yogurt, and I have to get my “fix” at least once a week.  And going to frozen yogurt is so simple, easy, and fun.  You get a refreshing and smooth dessert topped with any item you want.  Ok… I’m definitely going to get frozen yogurt tonight!



My favorite topping for frozen yogurt is mochi.  Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made out of glutinous rice flour.  (PS- If you are gluten-free, don't worry, this is not gluten flour - It is just a flour made out of a sticky rice).  The most common Americanized  (is that a word?) use of it is in ice cream.  They wrap it around ice cream and have it in the frozen yogurt shops.  If you have seen it before and haven’t tried it, I would definitely urge you to.  It’s a small treat that is chewy and slightly sweet and is SO good!



Mochi is not only good on, and in, ice cream but is great to snack on.  They are small and tasty and easy to just pop in your mouth whenever you want a sweet snack.  Our family has been snacking on Mochi for a very long time.  So you think with how much I bake I would have tried making it a while ago.  However, I just made it a couple weeks ago for the first time.  And it came out fantastic! Even better than I thought. 


Mochi is actually very easy to make!  Especially this recipe I have for you.  I thought that the process would be very labor intensive, but it wasn’t at all.  All you do is mix the ingredients together and bake them in a pan for 1 hour.  Then let the mocha sit in the pan for another hour.  Invert the mocha on a surface and cut into squares.  Easy as that!  The hardest part is taking it out of the pan and cutting it because of the stickiness, but that’s not even that hard.  You just have to be careful.


The ingredients in this mochi recipe can be easily found at any Asian market, especially the glutinous rice flour.  I would suggest to the use the exact ingredients in the recipe and not substitute.  I am not sure that the mochi would turn out with any other type of rice flour or other ingredient.  Take the extra effort and go to the Asian market and trust me… you will be very satisfied!


You really have to go and make mochi soon :).  It is an amazing treat!  Its perfect to snack on and perfect added to any dessert!  And this recipe is exceptionally delicious!  The mochi has a chewy texture with a yummy sweet rice taste. Mmmmm…


 





Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gourmet [Kobe Beef] Hot Dog


Hot dogs are the big thing right now.  And they are not the normal hot dogs with ketchup and mustard.  They are gourmet dogs.  Hot dogs that are more refined.  More “upscale” and unique ingredients are included and topped on these new kinds of hot dogs.  They are all the rage right now and popping up everywhere… especially in gastropubs (which is a bar and restaurant that serves high-end beer and food). 


Steve and I love going to gastropubs and our favorite is located in downtown San Diego, called Neighborhood.  Here is where we were introduced to this new trend.  There is a hot dog item on the menu that Steve loves.  He holds this hot dog very close to the top of his favorite foods (maybe even at the top).  

Ever since we were introduced to this new world of hot dogs we have always wanted to try and make one of our own.  Make one that is close to this favorite hot dog at Neighborhood, maybe even better!


So just a couple weeks ago we tried one out and… wow… it was good!  I’ll tell you what, I’m not that big of a meat eater.  No big reason, just I’m not that inclined to the taste anymore.  However, this hot dog was even amazing to me!  


What made this hot dog were the high quality ingredients.  This is key!  You need good ingredients to produce good product.  The starting point to this hot dog was the actual dog – it was made of Kobe Beef.  Yes!  Kobe Beef!  One of the highest quality of meats out there!  Just this on its own would have been good, but of course you can’t stop there.  Fresh avocado was spread on a fresh and fluffy bun.  Then it was topped with homemade pickled carrots, grilled onions, and queso fresco (a Mexican crumbling cheese).  Ok… so if your mouth watering?  Mine is!


This definitely was the best hot dog I have ever had!  As for Steve… it made it up to the top of his list!  He loved it!  I actually had to rush and take pictures of the hot dog because Steve couldn’t wait to eat one :).  The Kobe Beef dog was juicy, tender, and incredibly flavorful.  Then the toppings went together perfectly and created excellent texture and taste.  Sooooo good!  

Gourmet hot dogs will definitely be making more appearances in our kitchen.  I have already been envisioning some new and unique flavor combinations that I can’t wait to try!


Oh, and guess what!  The new food network magazine came out today and guess what is on it… gourmet hot dogs! See, I told you they are the fad :).

Now go make one for yourself!

 




Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pear Bread Pudding


Comfort foods will always have a place in my heart.  Mac and Cheese – Apple Pie- Chicken Soup – Chocolate Chip Cookies – Spaghetti and Meatballs.  These are the foods that warm your soul and truly are comforting.  I was in a mood for some comfort food and thought lets bake something up.  One classic American comfort dessert that I haven’t had in a really long time is Bread Pudding.  



Bread Pudding is a rich and delicious dessert that brings a smile to my face.  So when I thought about making it I wanted to make it even extra special.  At first I was thinking to make a white chocolate bread pudding.  And then I thought a basic bread pudding.  But white chocolate was too sweet for what I wanted and the basic bread pudding was too plain.  So… I decided on pear bread pudding! 


Pear was the perfect compliment to the bread pudding.  It has a slight sweetness that goes perfectly with the rich taste of the pudding.  I loved the pears in this recipe, but I’m sure that any other type of fruit would work well… Apples, Strawberries, Peaches.  

While the bread pudding was baking in the oven it gave off this amazing aroma that filled up the whole house.  I couldn’t wait to eat it.  After it came out of the oven and I topped it with vanilla ice cream.  Mmm… it was delicious!  


One of the best things about this dessert is that it had the perfect richness.  It wasn’t a heavy dessert that you can only have two bites of.  I was able to eat the whole piece and be satisfied, and not overly full. 



This is an easy dessert that will definitely satisfy your comfort food craving.  Enjoy :)!


 
 




Tuesday, May 24, 2011

[The best] Pancakes [you will ever have!]


I am definitely a breakfast girl.  I have to eat breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up or else my stomach growls like crazy and I’m extremely hungry.  My usual breakfast is oatmeal and fruit, but on weekends (normally Sundays), we go all out.   
Omelets, Eggs Benedict, French Toast, Pancakes, Quiche, Waffles. 

We’ve had them all.



But out of everything, my favorite is pancakes.  I have always loved pancakes.  Even when I go out to breakfast at a restaurant, 90% of the time I order pancakes.  There is something about that stack of fluffy and sweet pancakes that gets me going in the morning.


With this love for pancakes, I have tried many (I mean a lot, like a lot!) of pancake recipes.  I’ve done buttermilk, normal, wheat… everything.  And none have been right.  They have been good, don’t get me wrong.  But not the one.  Some have been too hard.  Some have been too gooey.  Some have had no flavor.  None have been perfect.

BUT… I am here to tell you I found the one!  They are the perfect pancake.  Fluffy, moist, flavorful.  All packed into one incredible pancake.  These pancakes really just melt in your mouth.  One bite and your addicted.  You can’t just have one, you have to have the whole stack.  And they are so good you don’t even need butter.  You know what – you don’t even need syrup!  Butter is normally added to pancakes to add a moist and richness to the pancakes, but these already have that.  They don’t need the butter at all.  I normally just put on syrup, but I don’t put a lot – just a little to complement the pancake.  These pancakes stand good on their own! 



Another great thing about this recipe is that it uses basic ingredients.  No buttermilk needed – normal milk is fine.  And I actually use non-fat milk and they still come out amazing!  And even better is that it is a great starting recipe to add extra yummy flavorings.  My favorite is Banana.  And Steve’s is White Chocolate Chips.  All you have to do is add the ingredient of your choice to the pancake after pouring it into the pan – just carefully top the pancake and that’s it.  A yummy pancake catered to your taste :).


Go make these these pancakes!  You will be sooooooooo happy!  

Oh and real quick… we made these for “breakfast for dinner” and wow!  They might be even better at night.  Might be being the key word… these are great no matter what time of day!  Enjoy :)

 





Monday, May 23, 2011

Pocket Pies


There aren’t a lot of people who don’t like pie.  I have come across people who don’t like cake, who don’t like lemon, who don’t like chocolate.  But not a lot of people who don’t like pie.  We were having some people over and I wasn’t sure what I should make for dessert.  I have never cooked or baked for these people so I didn’t know their likes and dislikes.  With this, I decided to go with something safe and make pie!

I wanted to put a little spin on the pie, so I decided to make Pocket Pies.  Pocket Pies are small, hand-held pies.  They are so cute and easy to eat, that they appeal to everyone!  


Putting together the pocket pies was very similar to making a normal pie.  The only difference was that after you roll out the dough, you cut it into rectangles, fill one side of each piece with filling and then top it with another piece.  So if you made a normal pie, you can definitely make a pocket pie.  And even if you never made a pie, you can make a pocket pie!  It some cases it is actually easier to make a pocket pie because you don’t have to fit it in a pie pan.


I filled the pies with three different types of fruit filling – apple, pear, and peach.  You can choose to do all three fillings, or just do one or two.  You can also choose another favorite fruit that works well in a pie.  Definitely make the pie to fit your taste!


When I ate this pocket pie, I immediately thought of why people like pie so much (including me!).  The flaky crust is mouthwatering and so addicting!  Sometimes I see people just eat the crust :)!  And the filling is perfectly sweet, creating a great compliment to the always-incredible crust. 


Now that I have made these pocket pies, I think that I will make start making them a lot more.  Because of their smaller size they are much easier to eat.  Instead of having to cut a piece of pie, all you have to do is pick up a pocket pie.  This makes this hand-held dessert a perfect choice for a party!


Next time you go to make a traditional fruit pie, I urge you make these adorable pocket pies instead :)!

 




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