Rainbow Rice Krispie Treats

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Shout out to all the moms out there who have their kids duped into thinking the Rice Krispie treats they make them are such labors of love. (I’m trying to be you one day!) Best joke ever – Rice Krispie treats certainly are delicious, but SO EASY to make! (Don’t worry if you were fooled; I’m sure your mom would labor over a hot stove any day for you…) We adapted these for spring with bright colors, only varying from the original Rice Krispie Treat recipe a tad!

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We’re bringing these treats to our work spring potluck lunch, but they’re perfect for any spring gathering or just to have around the house as you welcome spring with it’s beautiful flowers and warmer temperatures! Also, Easter is fast approaching and if you want an easy dessert, sure to please the adults and kids alike, here you go!

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Rainbow Rice Krispie Treats

Ingredients: 
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup spring colored (pink, green, yellow) mini marshmallows
  • 4 cups Rice Krispies
  • 2 cups Fruity Pebbles
Instructions: 
  1. Melt butter over low heat in a large pot.
  2. Once the butter is melted, pour in the first 4 cups of marshmallows. Stir, still over low heat, coating the marshmallows with butter and continuing until they are completely melted.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the colorful marshmallows and cereals.
  4. Grease a 9×13 glass pan. Pour the mixture in and press down (with a greased spatula or wax paper over your hand) until smooth.
  5. Allow to cool and then cut and serve!

 

Cypriot Carnival Bourekia

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Happy Mardi Gras (Carnival, Shrove Tuesday, etc)! Here in the US, we associate Mardi Gras with New Orleans’ celebrations alone. But this week I reminded myself that not everyone celebrates with beads, King Cake, Cajun food, and exposed breasts. So I looked into worldwide traditions, with the hopes of picking a different dish to make tonight. (I wanted a surprise for Selim when he came home from work, so I was looking for his favorite foods and flavors!) I learned so much – pretty much every country with healthy Catholic or Orthodox Christian traditions has their own celebrations. In my browsing, I decided I should definitely have been born in Cyprus. There, Carnival is a two week celebration – the first week is “Meat Week,” or Kreatini, which is the last week eating meat is allowed until Easter. The second of the weeks is “Cheese Week,” or Tyrini, which leads right up until Ash Wednesday. Cheese week!? A whole week for eating cheese?! How did I not know about this until now?

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Tonight we made these Cypriot sweet fried cheese pastries called bourekia. (I’ve also seen the spelling pourrekia, I’m not sure the difference, other than just translation into the Latin alphabet?) To be truly authentic, they should have Cypriot anari cheese inside, but given that isn’t entirely readily available in the US, the internet assures me that unsalted ricotta is an acceptable substitute. The rosewater and cinnamon take the cheesy filling and make it sweeter and full of the flavors of the greater Middle East and Mediterranean. I’m still mildly terrified of frying things, despite our recent forays into frying (Southern Fried Chicken & Shrimp Beignets), but we jumped head-first into our first fried treat tonight! Good thing we have our Culinary Bucket List to keep motivating us.

I’m not going to lie, these were good, but not perfect. I’m happy enough with the result to share, but I need to work on the dough. I’m not 100% content with that. The filling however… Perfect! Sweet, but not overly sugary, with a delicious blend of flavors. The hint of rosewater is excellent!

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Cypriot Carnival Bourekia

(Adapted from this publication from Toni Buxton & the Cyprus Tourism Organisation)
Ingredients:
  • 4 cups AP flour
  • 1 cup neutral oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup cold water (+ more if needed)
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted ricotta cheese
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp rosewater
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting
  • Oil, for frying
Instructions:
  1. Mix together the four, oil, and salt. Knead together, adding small bits of a cold water if needed to create a smooth dough ball.
  2. Wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, stir the cinnamon, sugar, and rosewater into the ricotta cheese.
  4. After the 30 minutes, roll out the dough and cut out circles. Use the base of a glass to stamp them out. You want the dough to be fairly thin – mine were somewhere between 1/8th & 1/16th of an inch.
  5. Spoon a small dollop of the cheese mixture into the center of each circle. Brush water on the edges of the dough circles and fold over into half-moons. Crimp edges together.
  6. Heat the oil in a heavy, tall-sided pot to 365 degrees. Fry the bourekia in batches, taking care not to crowd the pot, for 3-4 minutes.
  7. Remove them to a paper towel to drain and dry. Dust with powdered sugar prior to serving!

Apple Cinnamon Galette

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It’s well documented on this blog (and if you know me in real life…) that I don’t like/am mildly terrified of baking. But every fall, like clockwork, I feel the need to bake something with apples in it. It’s a personal rite of fall passage, along with my need to decorate with tiny gourds, take pictures of leaves changing, carve a pumpkin, and cook a batch of chili (see: Finally Fall Chili). Around here we’re a little desperate for fall’s arrival. We’ve had a few glorious days here and there, including a gorgeous weekend when we were in Charlottesville, but the days keep reverting back to a hot, humid, sunny, and mid-80s. So instead of being inspired by the fall weather for this dessert today, I’m hoping by making it, I’ll convince the fall gods to stick around for good here soon! And furthermore, October is not only National Apple Month, it’s National Dessert Month! So it’s only right that we celebrate, even though it doesn’t quite feel like fall yet.

The even better news about this baking attempt is that on the scale of baking things, galettes are definitely closer to a zero than a ten. So even I can’t screw it up! They’re not even supposed to look neat or perfect! Imperfection is perfection 🙂 Which is why I’m not sure why I’ve never made one before. Imperfection is my kind of baking.

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Apple Cinnamon Galette

(Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)
Ingredients:
  • Crust
    • 1 1/2 cups AP flour
    • 1 tbsp cinnamon
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1/4 cup cold water
  • Filling
    • 3 Granny Smith apples, sliced
    • 2 tbsp white wine
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1 tbsp flour
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp allspice
    • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
Instructions:
  1. Put the stick of butter in the freezer for 30 minutes prior to making the dough. Meanwhile, mix all of the dry dough ingredients together. When the butter is cold, use a grater to cut the butter into the mix. Add the vanilla and then stir the water in slowly until a dough forms. Knead a few times and form into ball. Then flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  2. Slice the apples and place in a large bowl with all of the other filling ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until time to assemble the galette.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place a silicone mat (or parchment paper) on a large cookie sheet.
  4. Roll out the dough into a large circle on a floured surface. Arrange the apples in the center, keeping them as flat as possible and leaving a 2-3 inch border. Fold the edges over, pressing them down.
  5. Bake for ~30 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Lemon-Lime Ricotta Cookies

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This is our last batch of end-of-the-rotation thank you treats. Why? Because this week we are completing our LAST clinical rotation!! We graduate in almost exactly ONE MONTH, on May 11th! We’re really looking forward to be gainfully employed adults again.

⇑⇑ Current excitement level ⇑⇑

But don’t worry, we have one more delicious treat for this last month. These cookies are soft and almost cake-like, as is typical of Italian cookies made with ricotta, and full of bright citrus flavors. I think they’re just perfect for spring! Light and bright = spring, right? While Pinterest-ing, I kept coming across people saying how they usually “don’t like ricotta cookies because they’re boring.” Is that a thing? Who are you people who don’t like light, fluffy, cake-cookies? The whole point is that they TASTE good right??

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Lemon-Lime Ricotta Cookies

(Adapted from My Baking Addiction via Pinterest)
Ingredients: 
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 16oz (whole fat) ricotta
  • 2 tbsp lime juice, divided
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice, divided
  • Zest from 2 limes
  • Zest from 2 lemons
  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In stand mixer or with a hand-held mixer, cream together sugar and butter.
  3. Sift together the dry ingredients in another bowl (flour, baking powder, salt).
  4. Zest and juice the citrus fruits. Combine the zests in a small ramekin and set aside. {You’ll likely only need the juice from 1 lemon and 1 lime, but I like to have the zest from both.}
  5. Add the eggs, ricotta, half of the citrus zest, and 1 tbsp each of lime & lemon juice to the bowl with the sugar and butter. Gently stir together.
  6. Slowly add in the bowl of sifted dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
  7. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner. Drop dough onto the cookie sheet in dollops of ~2tbsp each.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the bottoms are a golden brown.
  9. Rest cookies on a rack to cool until easy to handle (15-20 minutes).
  10. While cookies are cooling, prepare the glaze. Whisk together the powdered sugar, the other 2 tbsp of lemon juice & 1 tbsp lime juice each, and remaining zest.
  11. Once glaze is smooth, dip the cookies into the glaze. Return the glazed cookies to the rack to sit until the glaze has hardened (~2 hours).
Makes ~4 dozen

Reese’s Pieces Bars

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It’s that time of the month again… end of the month treats! If it weren’t for end of the month/end of a rotation treats, this blog would pretty much never have any dessert or baked goods on it. [Check out some of our previous end of the month treats, like… Strawberry Streusel Bars, Mint Chocolate Bars, or Sweet & Salty Snack Mix!]

We don’t eat candy a whole lot, but Reese’s Pieces are pretty high up on my list of favorites! I love anything that’s peanut butter and chocolate. Which makes it all the more shocking that I’ve had this recipe saved for awhile and haven’t made it until today. This no-bake dessert is really quite simple to put together. Two tips though, so you can improve from our learning experience. They should be kept refrigerated until before serving – while still delicious, when they’re room temperature, these bars will fall apart in your hands a bit. (Not going to lie, they’re amazing when gooey like this, but kind of hard to serve in public. If you’re sitting on your couch, doing some solo Netflix watching, shoveling treats in your mouth, by all means let them get warm and gooey!) And secondly, don’t refrigerate overnight/for an extended period of time before you cut them. We did this and the chocolate layer is hard to cut – hence our non-uniform pieces you see in the pictures. Should’ve thought of that… but they were delicious despite their appearance! Like we always say… this is real-life blog 🤷

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Reese’s Pieces Bars

(Adapted slightly from this recipe)
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 1 cup Reese’s Pieces, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Instructions:
  1. Line a 9×13 baking dish with foil.
  2. In a large bowl, blend the first 6 ingredients – butter through 1 cup of peanut butter. Mix until smooth.
  3. Gentrly, stir in 1/2 cup Reese’s Pieces. Press into the baking dish evenly. Refrigerate while making the top layer.
  4. For the top chocolate layer, combine remaining peanut butter with the chocolate chips. Melt the chocolate and peanut butter in a double boiler (or very slowly in the microwave), stirring frequently until well-combined.
  5. Pour chocolate over top the bottom layer. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Reese’s Pieces to finish!
  6. Refrigerate for ~1 hour or until set. Slice to desired size. Keep refrigerated until serving.

Chocolate Rugelach

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We may have mentioned it once or twice, or a million times, but Selim definitely has the sweet tooth in this family. I could eat chips & dip for the rest of my life, but Selim could easily subsist on sweets, especially chocolate! We like to joke that he has a separate dessert stomach. It’s amazing – he can be stuffed after a dinner out or something big that we cooked at home, and then not five minutes later, he’s asking for the dessert menu or if we have any chocolate hidden in the house.

So when I decided to attempt rugelach for our Hanukkah dinner this year, I browsed a lot of recipes. I personally was enticed by the many recipes with nuts and cinnamon sugar, but I knew I had to make chocolate for Selim. I decided to stick with the more American preparation, that generally includes cream cheese in the dough, as opposed to a more yeasty Israeli preparation.

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Chocolate Rugelach

(Adapted from the following sites- here & here & here!)
Ingredients: 
  • 4oz  butter, softened
  • 4oz regular cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cups flour (+ additional for dusting)
  • 4oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp + 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg
Instructions: 
  1. Allow the butter and cream cheese to sit out so they soften.
  2. Combine the butter, cream cheese, regular sugar, 1 tbsp brown sugar, salt, and vanilla in the bowl of your stand mixer. Cream all of these ingredients together.
  3. Slowly add the flour in while the mixer is running.
  4. Once well-combined, turn out onto a floured counter and knead into a ball. Divide the ball into two equal pieces and flatten slightly into round discs.
  5. Refrigerate dough for at least an hour.
  6. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1 tbsp brown sugar with the cocoa powder and 1/4 tsp cinnamon.
  7. In another bowl, whisk together an egg with the remaining 1/4 tsp of cinnamon.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  9. After the dough has chilled, remove each disc, one at a time from the refrigerator to work on.
  10. Roll out into a large circle. Sprinkle with the sugar-spice mixture, leaving a slight edge. (Remember to only use 1/2 of the mixture – or make more, whatever…!)
  11. Now top with chopped chocolate.
  12. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough like a pizza, into 8 pieces. Roll each one up, starting with the wider edge.
  13. Place the rolled up rugelach on a lined cookie sheet. Brush with cinnamon egg wash.
  14. Repeat steps 9 through 13 with each piece of dough. Keep dough refrigerated until using/ready to bake.
  15. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  16. After removing from the oven, let cool on a wire rack.
Makes 24

 

Dinner Rolls

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At every family meal we have on my maternal side of the family, everyone gets really excited when they find out that my Aunt Bobbie has made the rolls or bread. She’s famous in the family for delicious, fluffy, homemade rolls and bread. At this most recent Thanksgiving, when she was slicing bread to place out on the table, my brother elbowed me and whispered, “Do you think anyone would notice if I just ate all the bread before dinner starts?” For the record Kev, I do think so…

We’re having Friendsgiving today this year, and so I decided to try to make her rolls. It’s never quite as good when you make someone else’s recipe that you love, but I thought it was worth the challenge. I adjusted a smidge from her recipe in the family cookbook, so we’ll know where I screwed up when it’s not the same!

Results? Pretty darn good, but shockingly, not exactly the same. Hers are fluffier. But these are still pretty fluffy, especially if you eat them right out of the oven! (How else would you want to eat them…?)

Dinner Rolls

(Recipe from my family cookbook, by Aunt Bobbie, obviously)
Ingredients: 
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup warm water
  • 4 tbsp butter, divided
  • 3 1/4 tsp yeast
Instructions: 
  1. Sift together the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a bread hook.
  2. Stir the yeast into the warm water.
  3. Beat the egg and then whisk in the sugar. Then add 2 tbsp of melted butter, followed by the water and yeast.
  4. Pour all of the wet ingredients in with the dry. Start the stand mixer and knead for 3-4 minutes.
  5. {If needed, add tiny amount of flour or water to combat too sticky or too dry dough.}
  6. Place dough ball in a large, greased bowl. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise for 2 hours.
  7. Divide dough into individual rolls. Bobbie suggests 24; we did 18. Place rolls on a baking sheet.
  8. Melt the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and generously brush on top of all the rolls.
  9. Set aside for another 2 hours to rise again. They should double in size.
  10. Finally, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 12-15 minutes.