Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pancakes for Dinner

I love breakfast, but often it's difficult to find the time to make a full breakfast when you have a busy day ahead of you. That is why I'm a strong supporter of breakfast, more specifically pancakes, for dinner.

Now you know I can't just have regular old pancakes. Sure I use a mix, but that's just a conduit, if you will, for the good stuff. We've tried a number of different combos of cereal, chocolate chips, candy, etc. over the years, but tonight I knew exactly what I wanted.

There's no real recipe for Becky's Crazy Pancakes. You just whip up your favorite mix (mine is Aunt Jemima's Complete Mix; just add water), pour a portion on the griddle and then throw in whatever your heart desires. I just wanted to share some pictures I took of tonight's dinner because these panny-can-akes were aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawesoooooooooooooome.

Becky's Cray-zah Pancakes

Look at that mess of fabulousness! Let's break them down...

Pancake 1: Oreos and Candy Corn

 Pancake 2: Fritos and Reese's PB Cups

 Pancake 3: Fruity Pebbles and White Chocolate Chips

The first two are newer for me. This is the second time, I believe, that I've tried both, but it won't be the last. 

The Oreos and candy corn pancake was inspired by the Halloween Bark that I made back in October. I dipped it in syrup (I eat pancakes with my hands), and tried some whip cream on it, too. YUM!

The Fritos and Reese's PB Cups pancake was inspired by the Frito Candy that I made recently. The mix of the salty and sweet, especially PB, works every time. This was great dipped in syrup AND it was awesome with strawberry jelly (like a PB&J).

The third pancake is the one I run back to time and time again. I love me some Fruity Pebbles and white chocolate is my favorite type of chocolate. So why not throw them both together? And, if I'm lucky enough to have some Sour Skittles around, I'll add those to the mix, too. THAT is a triple-threat. Unfortunately, no Sour Skittles for me tonight. This particular pancake is great topped with strawberry jam and whipped cream. 

All of these pancakes are just fan-slap your grandma in the face-tastic. They work great for a crowd. You just get everyone to line up little cups of what they want and throw them in the pancakes on the griddle. 

Kyle wasn't here to dine with me tonight, but some of his favorites are Cinnamon Toast Crunch/marshmallows/chocolate chips and bacon/cheddar/green chilies. 

The possible combos of awesomeness are unending.  

Lofthouse Cookies Take 2: This Time, It's Personal

Two of the top ingredients in Lofthouse cookies are powdered sugar and margarine. The Jiffy mix recipe did not contain either...until now.

I decided to substitute powdered sugar for the regular sugar and margarine for the shortening. Everything else is the same. I made a full batch this time. The frosting recipe that I used was taken from a forum in which someone claimed it was just like the real thing. I have a few of those in my back pocket. (This someone LIES, by the way!)


Jiffy Mix on Steroids Lofthouse Cookies

Ingredients
  • 2c "JIFFY" Baking Mix
  • 2/3c powdered sugar
  • 1/3c milk
  • 5T margarine, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1t vanilla
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350° and line baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Combine all ingredients and blend well.
  3. Drop by tablespoon onto prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake 6-8 minutes.
Lofthouse Frosting
Ingredients
  • 1/2c margarine
  • 1/2c shortening
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4t almond extract
  • 1/2t vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2c powdered sugar
Directions
  1. Blend the butter, shortening, egg whites, and flavorings together in a mixer for a minute or so. 
  2. Add 1/2 the sugar and gently start to mix, then mix on high for a minute until all lumps are smooth. 
  3. Add the remainder of the sugar and gradually increase your mixer volume to high as the sugar blends in. Leave mixer on high for two minutes (scraping sides once).

I have to say I liked the first recipe, frosting and cookie, better. I think the shortening in the frosting was too prevalent. I had to use way more extract than it called for to just mask the shortening taste. Also the consistency of the frosting was a mess, but that could have been because I ran out of powdered sugar. Regardless, I'll stick with the Jiffy Sugar Cookies and try out another frosting sometime soon.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake Balls

A few weeks ago we had breakfast for dinner with Becky's crazy pancakes (think mix-ins like bacon, Fritos and Sour Skittles). Good times with great people. To finish off the evening on a decadent note, I made some cake balls. My man requested this particular combination.

First off, does anyone know where I can find canned Peanut Butter Frosting? The frosting I made was easy, but still, the less work on my part, the better. For these cake balls I used a Devil's Food cake mix and a Peanut Butter Frosting recipe from the Cake Mix Doctor.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake Balls


Ingredients
  • 1pkg Devil's food cake mix (with necessary water, eggs and oil)
  • 1c, plus 2T creamy pb
  • 8T butter, softened
  • 1t vanilla
  • 3-4T milk
  • 2c powdered sugar, sifted
  • white baking bark
Directions
  1. Bake cake as directions and cool completely.
  2. Crumble up cake into LARGE bowl.
  3. In a medium bowl or your handy-dandy mixer (shout out to Kyle's folks for my awesome Kitchen-Aid mixer), cream together softened butter and pb until fluffy.
  4. Add powdered sugar, vanilla and 3T of milk. Mix on low for 1 min, or until all the sugar is incorporated. Then mix on medium for 1 min, until the frosting is lighter and fluffy. (You may want to add that extra tablespoon of milk depending on the consistency you are looking for).
  5. Add the frosting (yes, all of it) to the cake crumbs until it's all mushy.
  6. Roll into balls and freeze for 30 minutes.
  7. Melt the baking bark and coat the choco-pb cake balls. Throw them in the fridge until the chocolate is set.

While many cake ball combos call for 16oz. of frosting, I usually only use 8oz. and I think that works fine. In this instance, I decided to use all of the frosting that I made (if you want to know the total ounces, feel free to do the math). They were sooooooooooo good. I'm falling more and more in love with peanut butter, so expect to see more recipes with it as the star!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bacon Velveeta Fudge

I'm looking at my labels for this post: bacon, cheese, and chocolate. Awesome.

For the past few days I've had the Velveeta song stuck in my head. You know, "It's Velveeta versus cheddar. Our Velveeta melts much better..." (Allan Sherman Ponchielli is turning over in his grave.) Now, you'll be singing it for the rest of the day.  And you're welcome. 

We can thank Paula Deen for this faboosh recipe.  Velveeta fudge has actually been around for a bit, but the bacon part was my doing. Ridiculous.

The original recipe made a lot of fudge so I halved it this time around. I have a bunch of Velveeta left over, so I'll probably make another batch this weekend.


Bacon Velveeta Fudge

Ingredients
  • 4oz Velveeta, cubed
  • 1/2c butter
  • 1/2t vanilla extract
  • 16oz. powdered sugar
  • 1/4c cocoa powder
  • 1/2pkg. of bacon, crispy and crumbled
Directions
  1. Line a 8- or 9-inch square pan with non-stick foil.
  2. Melt the cheese and butter over medium heat, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove from heat and add the vanilla.
    In a large bowl sift together the sugar and cocoa. 
  3. Pour the cheese mixture into the sugar and cocoa mixture and stir until completely mixed.
  4. Mix in the bacon, sucka!
  5. Using your hands, remove candy from bowl and press evenly and firmly into pan. (You may have to blot the top because of all the buttery goodness).  Place pan in refrigerator until candy is firm.
  6. Cut into squares (I did 6x6).
We played the "Guess What's in the Fudge" game at trivia tonight. Nobody could figure it out. They were quite surprised to hear it was Velveeta. Truly, it's really tough to tell. It just has a nice creamy quality to it.  If you don't want to go too crazy, you can put a 1/2 cup of walnuts in it instead of bacon. Try it; you won't regret it.

Lofthouse Cookies - Attempt 1

If you are not familiar with Lofthouse Cookies, stop reading and immediately go to the closest grocery store, Target or Wal-mart and purchase some. Best. Sugar Cookie. Ever. So, of course, I'd like to try to duplicate the recipe...along with the rest of the world. 

There are tons and tons of copycat recipes out there, all claiming to be THE ONE, or at least darn near it. I decided to start with the sugar cookie recipe on the back of a box of Jiffy mix and some random frosting that I just wanted to try out. And they looked a little something like this...

(Shout out to Melissa Kay for hooking me up with these awesome dolphin sprinkles.)

Lofthouse Cookies (Jiffy mix Sugar Cookies)
Ingredients
  • 2c "JIFFY" Baking Mix
    2/3c sugar
    1/3c milk
  • 5T shortening, softened
  • 1 egg
    1/2t vanilla
  • 1/2t almond extract
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350° and line baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Combine all ingredients and blend well. 
  3. Drop by tablespoon onto prepared baking sheet. 
  4. Bake 6-8 minutes.
Frosting

Ingredients
  • 1lb powdered sugar
  • 1/2c shortening
  • 1/4c butter
  • 3T milk
  • 1 egg white
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2t vanilla
  • 1/2t almond extract
Directions
  1. Cream together sugar, salt, butter and shortening.
  2. Add egg white and vanilla and beat well.
  3. Gradually add milk and beat to a good consistency to frost the cookies.
The original cookie recipe calls for 1t of vanilla, but I wanted to try out the almond. I'll just stick with straight up vanilla next time. After reading comments on several message boards, I decided to reduce the baking time to 6 minutes (the recipe on the box says 8 to 10) and see how they turned out. I think they worked best with a 7 minute baking time. 

The icing was good, but again, I'll leave out the almond (which I also added in on my own) the next time I make it. I'm sure I'll use a different icing for the next batch, but I'll use this again for cakes as it is tasty.

Overall, the cookies turned out well and the people who tried them said that they were relatively close to the real thing. There are a few changes that I'm going to make based on the ingredient list on the back of a Lofthouse cookie box. I have plans to make more this weekend, so I'll let you know how they turn out.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Frito Candy

In my attempts to come up with some sort of clever "Free to Lay" joke, I ran across this TRUE STORY, which is better than anything I could have imagined.

While you're contemplating what the world is coming to, I'll tell you about this awesome, awesome candy. Anna from Cookie Madness created Frito candy, and it became a ridiculous hit for obvious reasons. Who doesn't love a good sweet and salty combo?

I made a few changes to the original recipe and, after trying it out, I would make a few more. I've written the recipe as I will make it in the future. And, oh yes, I definitely will be making this again.


Sweet, Salty, Frito Candy

Ingredients
  • 2c pretzels, broken up
  • 2c Fritos, broken up (like in half)
  • 24 Reese's cups minis (not to be confused with miniatures) cut in half
  • 8T butter
  • 1/2c brown sugar
  • 1c each of milk and semi-sweet chocolate chips (for a total of 2c of chocolate chips)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a 13×9 inch pan with non-stick foil.
  2. Dump broken pretzels, Fritos and halved pb cups into the pan so they are evenly distributed.
  3. Melt butter in a non-stick saucepan medium heat. Stir in brown sugar. Bring mixture to a full boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring once or twice. Pour evenly over Frito mixture (give it a little mix with a wooden spoon if need be) and bake for 8 minutes.
  4. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle combo of milk and semi-sweet chocolate chips over hot candy. Return to oven for 1 minute to soften chips. Spread softened chocolate chips over bars.
  5. Cool at room temperature until you feel the pan is cool enough to be transferred to your refrigerator, then transfer to refrigerator to set the chocolate. When chocolate is set, lift from pan and break the candy up.
The original recipe called for 1 cup of Fritos, but I think we were in agreement that more were necessary. Also, I only used 1 1/2c of chocolate chips. Based on how difficult it was for me to actually get the chips to spread out, I would definitely ratchet it up to 2 cups total. 

Oh my gosh this stuff is great! GREAT GREAT GREAT!!! I am definitely looking for another opportunity to make this again.

Homemade Almond Joys

Why pay $0.75 for an Almond Joy in the store when you could spend lots more time and money trying to duplicate it at home? Because it's fun, that's why!

Making these candy bars reminded me of cake balls: you mix up the ingredients, scoop the coconut and shape the bars and dip them in chocolate. I didn't have to bake anything, so it took less time; however, it was just as difficult to not lick my fingers. (Don't worry taste testers, I don't have anything communicable...as far as you know).  

I got this recipe from, Joy the Baker, yet another food blog that I frequent.
 
(Oh my gosh, will you look at this awesome picture? Hurray light box!)

Homemade Almond Joy

Ingredients
  • 7oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 1c powdered sugar
  • 1T pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2c unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 30 almonds
  • chocolate baking bark
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, spread raw almonds onto a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes. Cool to room temp.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk, powdered sugar, salt and vanilla extract.  Stir in the unsweetened coconut.  Freeze for 30 minutes.
  3. Shape 1T of coconut into a little log about 2 inches long and 3/4-inch thick.  Press the logs together very well so they don’t crack when dipped.  Place the log onto a wax-lined baking sheet and continue until all of the coconut mixture is gone. 
  4. Press an almond on top of each coconut log. (I smashed mine in there good) and chill (the coconut bars, not you; you've got chocolate to melt).
  5. Melt the chocolate and coat the almond-topped bars.
  6. Chill for 45 minutes (this time you can join the Almond Joys).
  7. Feel the joy and the love.
I thought these were OK. Didn't taste like an Almond Joy to me. Too vanilla-y. If I were to make these again, I think I would do a half vanilla and half almond extract. But they were fun to make and they looked really cool. I didn't have any left after trivia, so even though they weren't a match, they were still pretty tasty on their own.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Cake Balls for Christmas!

If you can't make a massive amount of treats at Christmas time, when can you make them? So that's exactly what I did (and will continue to do for the next few weeks). So to celebrate Santa's birthday, I made two different kinds of cake balls: one for our Christmas Eve Service at church and one for our visit to Ohio to see Kyle's family.



German Chocolate Cake Balls

You know how it works: Bake up a German Chocolate cake mix as directed. Let it cool completely and then crumble it up in a big bowl. Mix in Coconut Pecan Frosting from an 8oz. can. (By the way, I opened up the can and was like, "Uh, where is all the frosting??" It's totally not 8oz., but it's enough to make do.) Scoop the goo into tablespoon-sized balls; chill them and then dip them in baking bark (chocolate was a good choice this time around).

I made these for Christmas Eve. They didn't last long.



Christmas Funfetti Cake Balls

Guess what! It's exactly the same as before, just with Funfetti cake mix and Funfetti frosting. Yes, they are green. The cake was white but the Christmas frosting is a pale green color. If I had some forethought, I would have tinted the chocolate red to make them all the more festive. 

I took this batch to Ohio. We had a ridiculous amount of sweets there, so, although they were probably the most popular treat on the table, I came home with enough cake balls to give to the mechanics at the 15/501 Midas.

I like the German Chocolate better than the Funfetti, but my favorite are still the Red Velvet and White Frosting version.

P.S. Spell check keeps calling me out on Funfetti. Whatevs blogspot. I know the real deal.


P.P.S. Oh my gosh, we are loving our new counter-top deep fryer. We took it to Ohio with us and deep fried a bunch of stuff: Peeps, bacon, bacon-stuffed Peeps, Oreo truffles, cake balls, brownies, and chocolate bars. Now, that's what I call Christmas!