Recipe Testin’: Crescent Roll Apple Dumplings (Adapted from the Pioneer Woman)

appleI love Pinterest for its multitude of awesomeness. It’s no surprise it’s an extremely popular interactive vision board many use for ideas on an array of categories–food included. I often utilize Pinterest’s food boards and pins for cool recipes. Deciding after much procrastination to try a perfect fall treat incorporating basic ingredients, I found a simple, yet delectable recipe using sprite, crescent rolls, apple, butter, sugar and cinnamon. The original recipe comes from The Pioneer Woman, whose version includes 2 cans of crescent rolls and Mountain Dew. I had to improvise by adding Sprite and 1 can of crescent rolls, but it did the trick. (Click on this link for the original recipe. This has step-by-step pictures, and some of you may prefer that.)

The following is Pioneer Woman’s recipe with a few tweaks I added for creativity. It takes 10 minutes to prep, 40-45 minutes to cook (depending on oven and browning) and serves 6-8 people. The recipe is straightforward, the dessert is undeniably scrumptious and this is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  •  2 cans of original crescent rolls. I used one can and it worked just fine.
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 oz/ 1 cup Mountain Dew or sprite.
  • Cinnamon to taste. I added nutmeg as well. (To put it in quantative terms,start with 1/2  of 1/4 of a tsp. I eyeballed it, and this is the best I’ve got.)

Directions: (Preheat over to 350 degrees)

  • Peel, core and cut apples into 8 slices. This is an opportune time to use that apple peeler and corer if you have one. If not, it’s a great investment.
  • Open box of crescent rolls, and separate them into triangles. Place dumplings into a 9 x 13 inch pan. I used a round clear pan, lightly greased with butter.
  • Roll each apple slice in a crescent roll, starting from the top of the triangle, rolling downward to the tip of the crescent roll. Secure by applying gentle pressure to create an adhesion.
  • Melt two sticks of butter over medium-low heat. Add vanilla, sugar, and gently stir. Mixture doesn’t have to be smooth.
  • Pour butter and sugar mixture over the apple crescent rolls, thoroughly covering apples. Pour Mountain Dew on the sides of the pan, around the appley crescents.
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon. (I got creative and used nutmeg and sugar in conjunction to cinnamon. I thought a good idea would be apple pie spice or a dash of sugar and ginger for next time.)
  • Place into oven and bake for 40-43 minutes, until apples are soft, butter bubbles and the crescents are golden brown and crispy.

Serve while warm. Toppings may include: ice cream, whipped cream, or whatever works for you! Why not try both versions/substitutions and incorporate the optional ingredients for variety? I’d love to hear your experiences in your comments.

Flavor Pairing Ideas: Butterscotch and what?

Butterscotch is a cousin to caramel since it features the same flavor overtones. The butterscotch flavor features brown sugar and butter to create a flavor-rich delicacy that is versatile with vanilla, dark rums, coconut and even sea salt. The caramel and sea salt concoctions have been a staple ingredient to many households and restaurants, but Image compared to caramel, many have not considered pairing butterscotch with the likes of sea salt. Here are a few ideas to help you experiment with butterscotch flavors in any sweet dish.

  1. Butterscotch, sea salt and chocolate coffee. I just ordered a custom coffee brimming with sweet buttery notes of butterscotch coffee syrup, rich chocolate syrup, a mild sweetener and a dash of sea salt. This flavor combo created a well-balanced tone of rich, buttery sweet butterscotch, and a mouth watering salty swallow. The barista also commented of the innovation of the flavors, since it’s a less commonly requested order.
  2. Butterscotch and sea salt blondies. I searched the web for a recipe featuring this pairing, and came across this one here. Adapted from the domestic rebel this recipe features a moist blondie cake with butterscotch chips and sea salt. The sea salt additives can be exchanged or combined with a rum and caramel glaze, a vanilla and sea salt glaze, or a maple or pecans infusion to give the blondies more texture. Don’t forget to try smoked almonds with a dash of sea salt to compliment the butterscotch notes.
  3. Whiskey-Brown Butterscotch Pudding with a Ganache and Sea Salt. This creative  recipe stems from hungry girl por vida’s blog and combines chocolate, dark rum butterscotch and sea salt in a pudding. Genius.
  4. A Butterscotch Milkshake with whipped cream and a sea salt garnish. This doesn’t come from any site in particular, however, you can create an easy butterscotch  milkshake by making a butterscotch syrup, adding it to milk, sugar, a dash of sea salt and vanilla, then topping it with whipped cream and sea salt to taste. Not too much–you want the sea salt to be a light topping to shave off some sweetness.

Since butterscotch is a warm flavor that pairs well with other fall flavors (cinnamon, clove, vanilla, dark rum, apples and waffles) you can use any flavor combo (including a maple bacon flavor)  to taper off the sweetness of butterscotch tones.

What are your thoughts? Do you prefer butterscotch over caramel? Do you know of any dish that features these flavors I should discuss? Don’t forget to rate, comment and subscribe.

Taco Bell Taste Off: Cool Ranch Doritos™ Locos Taco Review.

Cool ranch taco, taken by Shinai (do not use without permission).

Cool ranch taco.

On March 6, 2013,  Taco Bell added a cooler addition to the sharply cheesy, nacho-flavored crunchy indulgence–the cool ranch Doritos™ locos taco. For those of you who don’t know, this is the second Doritos™-inspired taco flavor, which seems to be selling very well.  I think it’s important to bear in mind that the flavor of these tacos can be hit or miss depending on whether or not your local Taco Bell is heavy handed with powdering their taco shells. This taco shell is a standard corn yellow chip color with fun ranch-like shavings on the edges. To put this in perspective, (when eating with pieces of chicken) imagine eating a chicken ranch salad with crumbled Doritos™ chips as a salad topping. Pretty simple. Add sour cream and you’ve got something worthy of worship. Let’s continue.

  Cool Ranch Doritos™ Locos Taco (regular, with beef)

I ordered this taco with beef and wasn’t really impressed, because I felt that ranch flavor was muted when paired up with the beef. The little bit of ranch flavor was easy to detect on the upper edges only; the beef flavor overpowered the ranch and I could barely taste the ranch flavor. I should have taken the minimal visible ‘ranchness’ on the edge as a hint that the ranch flavor probably wasn’t evenly dispersed.  And boy was I right. Perhaps the taco didn’t have enough cool ranch powder on it. Maybe this taco needed the powerful help of sour cream to make it fun.

  Cool Ranch Doritos™ Locos Taco (regular, with chicken)

This is where chicken becomes relevant. I ordered this taco with chicken, because I like the pairing of ranch and chicken together  I figured it would be a more natural flavor blend than beef. This flavor compared to the beef was lighter, more refreshing–almost like a salad with those crisps on them. It made me think of summer for some reason. I enjoyed this more than the beef, because the chicken flavor played off the ranch on the taco. You can taste the cool ranch flavor better and the chicken almost rounds it out.

  Cool Ranch Doritos™ Locos Taco (chicken supreme)

And this is by far, my favorite combination–the sour cream was like the cherry on a sundae. Cool ranch, paired with chicken  veggies, cheese and sour cream.  It’s amazing how muted sour cream is on its own,but in this case, it was the glue that held all of the flavors together. In the supreme taco, I didn’t feel as if the beef overpowered the ranch flavor. This time, I actually had a taco that wasn’t shy of ranch. This again, reminded me of a light and refreshing bite of summer. I was sad I didn’t get another one.

Here are my ratings:

Taco Bell Cool Ranch Doritos™ Locos Taco (regular, with beef) Yumfactor: 2 tongues and a taste bud (2.5 out of 5 stars). The beef tasted good, but I didn’t like the combination paired up with the ranch. It could have been the lack of presence the ranch had when I ate this; the ranch seasoning on the taco shell didn’t come through very well. My taste buds prefer chicken with the cool ranch taco. It just tastes healthier–more wholesome and complimentary.

Taco Bell Cool Ranch Doritos™ Locos Taco (regular, with chicken) Yumfactor: 3 tongues (3 out of 5 stars). I enjoy a lighter-flavored meat with this shell. I felt as if I was eating a crisp salad with a powered ranch overtone. Overall, everything blended well together. No overpowering flavors or meats with this one. The cool ranch came out of its shell a little more to say hello to the world around it.

Taco Bell Cool Ranch Doritos™ Locos Taco (chicken supreme) Yumfactor: 4 tongues and a taste bud (4.5 out of 5 stars) I really enjoyed this. Every flavor completes the other, creating an indulgently harmonious blend of bites. The cool ranch flavor seemed to latch on to the cool sour cream and held hands; the sharp shredded cheese, lettuce and tomatoes also meshed well with the tangy ranch shell. The chicken–buried under all of the flavors–also made a humble appearance in this taco. It’s just natural this way. The chicken varieties are perfect for those who don’t eat beef, want a break from beef/horse meat/sand/whatever else, or crave a light, yet filling snack that will leave your conscious devoid of calorie guilt.

What Doritos™ flavors would you like to see as a taco shell flavor? What are your thoughts on this taco? Do you prefer chicken or beef? Rate, Comment and Subscribe!

Taco Bell Taste Off: Nacho Cheese Doritos™ Locos Taco Review.

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Taco Bell has recently launched an inventive and tasty batch of tacos utilizing two popular Doritos™ brand flavors–nacho cheese and more recently, cool ranch. Last year, Taco Bell released their Doritos™ Locos Taco in a nacho cheese flavor, available in both chicken and beef varieties.  Here’s my experience with the nacho cheese-flavored taco in both chicken and beef.

Nacho Cheese Doritos™ Locos Taco (with chicken)

A year ago I tried the popular and well-marketed nacho cheese flavored Doritos™  locos taco (at about $1.29/regular taco; $1.56/supreme; add $0.70 for chicken). As many of you probably know, it’s noted for it’s vivid orange color, which is heaps of nacho cheese powder flavoring on the taco shell. I ordered it with chicken and thought pretty highly of it. The cheese flavor resonated with the chicken, complimenting the sharp and intense cheese-flavored taco shell. Then, I decided to be a big girl and try it in it’s original form–with beef.For those of you who don’t know, I don’t eat very much beef and I’m almost sure some people may have questioned eating beef at Taco Bell ever since the sand scare. But I digress.

Nacho Cheese Doritos™ Locos Taco (with beef and beef supreme)

I ordered the supreme nacho flavored taco with beef and thought even more highly of this pairing. Why? Well first, the meat had more depth on its own and meshed well with the nacho cheese flavor; the sour cream pulled all the flavors together.  To put it simply, imaging dipping a nacho cheese flavored Doritos™ chip in chili with sour cream then sprinkling fresh shredded cheese. Top it all off with a 1/4 teaspoon of sour cream, lettuce and tomatoes and there you go. Sorry chicken, I actually prefer the nacho cheese taco with beef and instead. Don’t worry, though. You redeemed yourself in the cool ranch taco.

Here’s the verdict, folks–plain and simple.

Taco Bell Nacho Cheese Doritos™ Locos Taco (regular, with chicken) Yumfactor: I’m giving this taco three tongues (3 out of 5 stars). This isn’t to say it’s bad. It was above average, but not exciting to me especially in comparison to the beef flavor. The chicken creates a lighter taste. The chicken seasoning is detectable and the taco shell tastes saltier compared to the beef. Of course this is because of the mean. Great for those who want to mix it up from beef. Or sand. Or horse meat (allegedly). Hey, I ate the beef/horse meat or whatever it is and lived. *shrugs apathetically*

Taco Bell Nacho Cheese Doritos™ Locos Taco (regular, with beef) Yumfactor: 3 tongues and a taste bud (3.5 out of 5 stars).The overall flavor here is slightly amped up compared to the chicken. The seasonings of the beef paired well with the sharp nacho cheese top note; the vegetables and the sour cream all created a delicate dance of flavor.

Taco Bell Nacho Cheese Doritos™ Locos Taco (beef supreme) Yumfactor: 4 tongues (4 out of 5). This was fun to eat. The seasoned beef again played well with the nacho  cheese and the cool sour cream added a nice component. I shrieked in delight (no seriously, I did. I’m dramatic when I eat). This combination tasted like it was kismet, the savory beef complimenting the sharp and intense cheese-flavored taco shell. It’ll be interesting if Taco Bell plays with this inventive tacos. I’d be interested in seeing the sweet chili spice as a taco flavor. The next post is going to cover the cool ranch flavor.

What do you think about this flavor? Is it better with chicken or beef? Love it? Hate it? Don’t forget to RATE, COMMENT and SUBSCRIBE!

Blog Goals: What I’m Thinking and Where I’m Headed…

Hi all. I am thinking of adding a few new features to my blog to keep interesting. Take a look at what I have in mind:

Local Eats: I have moved out of state a few months ago and am thinking of reviewing local restaurants, their dishes, and the ambiance to provide a fresh appeal to this site. I will include pictures of course, and menus as I am trying to capture some prices to share.

Traveling Tastebuds: This will feature a foreign item that I will review. For example, if I indulge in Pani Puri, a popular Indian dish, I will provide information on what the item is, and its popularity. Also, information on where to buy it, and/or a recipe may also be provided.

Power Chews: (I may fix the name later, bu I kinda like it) This will feature a healthy vegetable (including soy), vitamin or fruit and how it can be applied in regular cooking. I will research and provide a brief summary on its components, and either use a real recipe I have tried, or provide a link for the audience.

So far, this is it. What do you all think about these ideas?

Must Try Foods: Limited Edition Cocoa Chex Mix

I have always loved this mix as it balances sweet chocolate with salty pretzels. I tried it a few years ago and have always looked for it, so naturally I was not hesitant in picking up another bag! It was about $2.00 and change, and is normally made available around the winter months, which makes sense considering it is supposed to be a Chex interpretation of hot cocoa. Fun! 😀 Firstly, Chex mix seems to be a crowd pleaser, and the standard flavors tend towards the salty, (although there are candies in some of them) which is to be expected.

Oh, the fun!

This mix  gives a handful of variety as there are chocolate squares, vanilla yogurt cream flavored crispies, plain chex cereal squares, delicate mini marshmallows, salty pretzel, and sweet swirlyness. The mini marshmallows gives it an overall sweeter than salty pretzel experience, but admittedly is my favorite part of grabbing a handful to snack on. The vanilla yogurt cereal squares are also rather delicious as their flavor is strong, and the coating is rich, playing of the sweet chocolaty notes. I bought a bag last night, and finished it already 😦 That is a drawback of this product- you may eat it off before you plan to!  They are 7% less in fat compared to potato chips, and contain only 7g of sugar per 1/2 cup per serving, along with 120 calories! Not too shabby! Not only is this mix delicious, but it captures the spirit of winter because of the hot chocolate association. Try it! You may love it as much as I do! Here is another review of the same product: http://www.betterproductadvisor.com/review-limited-edition-cocoa-chex-mix/

Note: For those who are diabetic, while this snack is low in sugar, please remember than this in a carb than will break down into sugar once eaten and digested.

Sonic’s Pumpkin Pie Milkshake Review. (And Edy’s Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream Overview)

Too artificial and "spicy" to be well rounded. Just so you know.

I went to Sonic’s to try the pumpkin pie milkshake which of course is available for a limited time, along with their new Kickin’ Coney and Bacon and Bleu hotdog. I had a previous run in with a pumpkin flavored dessert that left me dazed, hurt and disappointed. Actually, I’ll name names 🙂 Edy’s pumpkin pie ice cream is overly artificial in flavor, with too much focus on the sweet with poor traces of spice.  And the spice that IS there tastes off balanced. Too cinnamoney to me. I was not a fan at all…Now, I know some of you are going to say “Duh, it’s ice cream. What did you expect?” Certainly not that frozen weirdness I tasted.  Apparently, Sonic understands what I mean. Why? because their pumpkin pie flavored milkshake is amazing; it has lovely layers of rich pumpkin flavor that delicately infuses traces of cinnamon nutmeg that do not over power the pumpkin flavoring.

I took a pic, but it got deleted, so I borrowed this one.

It’s not an overly spicy shake it’s just a nicely balanced cup of bliss.  And I think Sonic’s whipped cream is indulgent and creamy and the fact that it’s topped with pie crumbles makes it even more so epic. So take that all of you who think I should expect pumpkin pie flavored ice creams/shakes to be disgusting. 😛

The texture is rich, creamy, and thick, like regular Sonic shakes are.  There is an earthy depth to the shake, as the first sip is laden with ripe, sweet pumpkin that doesn’t scare the taste buds.  Then, there is a warm undertone of cinnamon and nutmeg that add a well rounded feature to it. I felt this milkshake aptly used fall flavors of pumpkin and spice to make for a fun and sweet shake- and I feel it’s very easy to mess up frozen pumpkin type desserts by over using spiciness. I got a medium for $2.29. I wouldn’t recommend it for diabetics. Again this is fast food, so it’s not for the health conscious who are concerned with calories, fat or sugar. According to their site,the calorie content is 710. Wow. 78 g sugar, 9 g protein, and 1 g of fiber. But hey, there’s 0 g trans fat! 😀 And that’s the best of it with nutrition, folks, bt what do you expect? it’s a milkshake from Sonics!

Pumpkin Pie Shake Yumfactor: 5  tongues!! (5 out of 5 stars) I think this is flawless, and I have a friend who is scared of pumpkin flavored drinks and she agreed that is was rich, true to pumpkin pie goodness and yummy.

Edy’s Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream Yumfactor: 2 tongues and a tastebud. (2.5 out of 5 stars) I wanted to like it, but it was not well balanced in flavor. I like the color though, so I added an extra “.5” 😀 It is “light” so perhaps the lack of extra fat manifests itself in the way it tastes.

What are your thoughts? Rate. Comment. Subscribe.