Monday, August 27, 2012

Fast Food Review: McDonald's S'mores Pie

McDonald's S'mores Pie


I first spied a McDonald's S'mores Pie as I passed a local McDonald's. Loving S'mores and trying strange new promotional items I made a U-turn and ordered one. Unfortunately, that particular location was sold out for the rest of the promotion.

I'd actually forgotten about it, until a week later we ended up at McDonald's for dinner. It wasn't our original plan, so don't judge! We'd walked over to a local restaurant to try it out, to find that it closed early. We hemmed and hawed about what to do until we finally decided to walk about 2 blocks to McDonald's. I ordered my meal, and as I was about to hand over the cash I inquired about the pies (they hadn't been on the menu nor were there any posters). The cashier paused, went to the back, and brought me 2 pies. One pie was for me and my DH to share, and the other was to give to my sister (she loves S'mores).

We ate our meals, brought the pie home, and split it down the center:

McDonald's S'mores Pie


It looked promising. Something about the symmetry of S'mores goodness down the center of the pie made it look like it'd be delicious.

It wasn't delicious. It wasn't terrible either. The graham cracker crust didn't quite taste like one, and the chocolate tasted like pudding. The marshmallow was a bit more airy/fluffy than a typical marshmallow. It seems like it was missing a flavor, a dash of cinnamon perhaps? And it's fairly sweet. I was thankful that I'd split mine because it'd be too much for me to eat on my own.

Would I get one next summer? Probably not. I'd opt for S'mores pop tarts. Or of course, the real thing.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Banana Split Cookie


Banana Split Cookie, originally uploaded by predictablyhungry.

I've been trying to find the perfect combination of ingredients to make the perfect banana split cookie.

Keep in mind when you taste the dough, you'll think "no way, it's too banana-y. I don't know about this." But trust me, somehow the flavors combine perfectly for a cookie where no exact ingredient is the star, but rather they work together for the perfect flavor.


What You'll Need:


- 2 1/4 C flour

- 1 tsp baking soda

- 1 tsp salt

- 1/2 lb butter, at room temperature

- 3/4 C packed dark brown sugar

- 1/4 C granulated sugar

- 1 pkg. (3.4 oz) Jello™ banana flavored instant pudding

- 2 large eggs

- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

- 3/4 C dried cranberries, chopped* (you can also use other dried fruits such as strawberries, or dried cherries, etc)

- 1 C dried pineapple, chopped

- 1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips, or milk chocolate chips

- 1 small jar of maraschino cherries, halved


What You'll Do:


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Sift together first 3 ingredients into a large bowl. Set aside.

3. In a large mixer bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until light and fluffy.

4. Add instant pudding, mixing well.

5. Add eggs and vanilla extract, mixing until well blended.

6.Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.

7. Slowly add flour mixture, mixing well.

8. Stir in the fruits, and chocolate chips until well blended.

9. Take a rounded spoonful, drop dough on to an lined cookie sheet.

10. Top each cookie with a maraschino cherry half.

11. Bake 12-14 minutes.

12. After one minute, transfer from pan to wire rack to cool.


40-45 rounded tablespoon size cookies.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Super Easy Salsa Trio


Salsa Trio, originally uploaded by predictablyhungry.

I made a trio of salsas for Cinco de Mayo. The Green (roasted tomatillo) salsa is my favorite because I don't particularly care for tomatoes. The hit of the party was the restaurant style (red) salsa. And the pico de gallo was perfect for tacos.


So here's the recipes. You can add more or reduce the peppers to fit your spicy level needs. Also, if your spicy tolerance isn't very high you can also omit the habaneros.


Green Tomatillo Salsa:


What You'll Need:


- 1 pound tomatillos, husked

- 1 white onion, peeled and quartered

- 4 garlic cloves

- 4 jalapenos

- 1 to 2 habaneros
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin

- 1 teaspoon kosher salt

- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves

- 1/2 lime, juiced


What You'll Do:
1. On a baking tray lined with foil, roast tomatillos, onion, garlic, habaneros, and jalapenos for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

2. Transfer the roasted vegetables and any juices on the bottom of the tray to a food processor.

3. Add the cumin, salt, cilantro, and lime juice and pulse mixture until well combined but still chunky.


Red Restaurant Style Salsa:


What You'll Need:


- 14 oz can diced tomatoes

- 10 oz can diced tomatoes with green peppers

- 1/2 small onion, roughly chopped

- 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed

- 2 jalapenos, seeded or not (depends on how spicy you like it)

- 1 teaspoon honey

- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

- Medium size handful of cilantro, washed

- Juice of 1 lime


What You'll Do:


1. Put all the ingredients in the base of a food processor until all the ingredients are finely chopped and salsa is desired consistency.


Pico de Gallo:


- 3 Tomatoes

- 1/4 cup Green Onions

- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

- 1 to 2 jalapenos

- Juice of 1 lime

- Salt to taste


What You'll Do:


1. Dice tomatoes, dice green onions, and dice jalapenos.

2. Place in bowl, add lime juice, and salt. Mix together.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Nutella Toffee Brownies

What You'll Need:


- 1 cup Flour

- ¾ cups Cocoa Powder

- ½ teaspoons Baking Powder

- ¼ teaspoons Cinnamon

- ¼ teaspoons Kosher Salt

- 1 cup Unsalted Butter

- 2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

- 1 cup Sugar

- 1 cup Brown Sugar (I prefer to use dark)

- 4 whole Eggs

- 1 cup Nutella

- ½ cup Milk Chocolate Chips

- ½ cup toffee bits


What You'll Do:


1. Preheat oven to 350ºF for lighter pans or 325ºF for darker pans.

2. In a meduim bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (not including chips or bits).

3. On low heat, melt butter in a medium size pot.

4. Add vanilla and sugars, stir to combine.
5. Remove from heat and let cool (I usually put it in a heat proof dish and stick in the fridge to speed up the process a bit).

6. Move to mixer, or a bowl if mixing by hand.

7. Add one egg at a time, making sure it is completely mixed before adding the next one.

8. Add the dry ingredients.

9. Microwave the Nutella for about 30 secconds or until it is a runny texture.

10. Add the Nutella, chocolate chips, and toffee bits.

11. Pour the batter into a greased 9×13 pan.

12. Bake the brownies for about 35 minutes.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Easy Surprise Lemon Cake


Surprise Lemon Cake, originally uploaded by predictablyhungry.

I was trying to think of a Lemon Cake I could make for my mother's birthday. Something that wasn't too difficult, and didn't take too long. Then I stumbled upon this recipe and made some changes to fit my taste better.


This cake is wonderful because the dollops of lemon pie filling in the cake sink to the bottom as it bakes, leaving perfect little surprise pockets of lemon.


What you'll need:
Cake:

1 (18.25-oz.) pkg. pudding-included white cake mix

(oil, egg whites, and water per directions for egg-white cake recipe).


Filling:

1 15.75 oz. can of lemon pie filling (I used about 2/3 of the can in
the cake, and a few teaspoons in frosting)


Frosting:

1 can of lemon frosting

1 8 oz. container frozen whipped topping

1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)

1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

I used the added lemon juice and zest
to bring down the sweetness of the frosting.


What You'll Do:
1. Heat oven to 350°F.

2. Spray a 9x13" pan with nonstick cooking spray.

3. Prepare cake mix as directed on package according to egg white recipe, using water, oil and egg whites.

4. Spread batter into pan.

5. Drop pie filling by heaping teaspoonfuls evenly onto batter. (I did a checkered pattern)

6. Bake at 350°F. for 30 to 40 minutes or until edges pull away from pan and top is golden brown.

7. Cool cake in pan until completely cooled.



FROSTING:

1. In medium bowl, combine 1/2 can of frosting and 1/2 tub of whipped topping; whisk until blended well. Add lemon juice and zest, whisk
until blended. (The kitchen aid mixer was perfect for this, using the whisk attachment).

2. Spread on cake.



If you want more frosting just just the whole can and tub.



Sunday, March 25, 2012

Chocolate Chip and Pretzel Cookies

I recently took these cookies to a party, and they were gone within minutes. Two batches devoured in less than a half hour. Nearly every person there had come up to me at some point during the evening to let me know how good they were. My friends let me know that everyone loved these cookies.


I had tasted them out of the oven, and thought they were good but nothing to write home about. So I grabbed a cooled off cookie, and bit in. They're definitely way better after they've been out of the oven for a minute because the pretzels get their nice crunch back.


What You'll Need:


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

14 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

3 oz. pretzels, chopped/broken

1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cups milk chocolate chips


What You'll Do:


1. Preheat oven to 375. If using dark pans preheat to 350.

2. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

3. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

4. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in a small pot over medium-high heat until melted.

5. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown, about 3 minutes.

6. Remove pot from heat and using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. (I used my kitchen-aid mixer bowl).

7. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted. (I find it's faster to cut that 4 tablespoons into quarters).

8. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with melted butter and whisk until fully incorporated.

9. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds.

10. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds.

11. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny.

12. Using the paddle of your mixer, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute.

13. Using your rubber spatula, stir in chocolate chips and pretzels until well mixed and no clumps of flour remain.

14. Using a small spoon, scoop about 1 inch balls onto the cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

15. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft. (With my dark pans and the oven at 350, it's approximately 10 minutes). Be sure to rotate baking sheet halfway through baking.

16. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Blueberry Cheesecake


Blueberry Cheesecake, originally uploaded by predictablyhungry.


I had decided this Thanksgiving that I wanted to try and make a cheesecake. I'd pondered pumpkin cheesecake, but after realizing not all the guests liked pumpkin I had decided on a plain cheesecake. So I scoured the internet for cheesecake recipes. I looked through my library of food network magazine and searched all my favorite food blogs. After reading about 20 recipes to get an idea of what make a cheesecake I came up with my own. I know, flour isn't normally in cheesecake but I figured it would help it set to make it fool proof (since this was my first attempt).


Then one the cheesecake was complete, I'd decided it was missing something and added blueberry topping. Needless to say, the cheesecake was a hugehit. I was floored at how great it came out, and fell in love with the crust. Next time I make it I plan on making the crust run along the side of the cheesecake as well.


What You'll Need:
Crust:

- 2 cups of crushed graham crackers (I hand crushed them so that there were some decent sized chunks of cracker in the crust rather than powder to add a crunchy texture to the smooth cheesecake)

- 7 Tbsp butter melted

- 1/2 Tsp cinnamon

- 1/4 cup sugar

- Pinch of salt



The Filling:

- 4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese

- 1 1/2 cups white sugar

- 3/4 cup whole milk

- 4 eggs

- 1 cup sour cream

- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour


What You'll Do:



First, the crust!

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. In a bowl combine graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar, cinnamon, and salt.

3 Press the mixture along the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan lined along the outside with foil.

4. Bake in oven for approximately 10 minutes, remove and set aside.


The filling:
5. In a large bowl, mix cream cheese with sugar until smooth.

6. Mix in milk, and then the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate.

7. Mix in sour cream, vanilla and flour until smooth (but don't overbeat!).

8. Pour filling into prepared crust.

9. Place the pan into a water bath. That is, place the pie pan into a roasting pan, then slowly add boiling water into the roasting pan until just below the edge of the foil line (about halfway up the pie pan).

10. Bake in oven for 1 hour.

11. When timer beeps, turn oven off but do not open the oven.

12. Let the cheesecake slowly cool in the oven for about 6 hours (this helps it set and helps prevent cracking caused by rapid cooling).

13. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

14. Add blueberry topping just before serving (optional, see below).


Blueberry Topping:

- 1 can of blueberry pie filling

- 1 teaspoon cinnamon


1. Add blueberries to pot and add cinnamon. Simmer approximately 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

2. Let cool.

3. Spread on top of cheesecake prior to releasing from springform pan.


Enjoy!