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.

All Coconut Everything Plus a Recipe

ImageThis summer has featured a large supply of coconuty goodness mixed with delightful flavors. Summer, not surprisingly, is coconut season, and you can find just about any product–from coffee creamers, to chocolate, caramel and caramel candies and fun flavored iced coffee. Below is a short list of fun coconut inspired products that are worth a try.

  • Dunkin Donuts’ new coconut mocha iced coffee. This fun treat is a great way to cool off as the tropical coconut flavor balanced well with the mocha overtones that create a well- balanced flavor roundness. Also available are: Coconut caramel and Coconut almond.
  • Betty Crocker’s Almond Joy Icing. This I have not yet tried, but I can imagine that if the flavors of chocolate, coconut and almond compliment each other, it should taste no differently than the International Delight creamer of the same flavor.

    Taken by Shinai

    Almond Joy Icing

  • Caramel, Chocolate and Coconut Ice Cream by Edy’s: This is very close to the Girl Scout Samoas flavor, and was once named as such. This ice cream begins with a caramel flavored ice cream and chocolate ribbons, and chunks of the Samoas cookies are nestled in. The mix-ins make this ice cream a hit run. Make your own Samoas cookies and bars here.
  • Nestle Crunch Samoas (Chocolate & Coconut) Bars. This is easily an addiction of mine. I can’t decide whether or not it’s due to the intoxicating balance of coconut and caramel, or the crispy and airy cookie texture. These bars come in three popular Girl Scout flavors: Coconut and Chocolate, Thin Mint and Peanut Butter Creme. Worth a try.
  • Coffee Mate’s Coconut and Chocolate (Samoas) Creamer. This is a smooth, fun and indulgent creamer that features a soft, but noticeable coconut appearance, with a muted caramel finish. The smell is fantastic–your nose will pick up on the sweet coconut flavor with the lingering hint of sweet caramel. Perfect for a cozy cup of joe.
  • Haagen-Dazs Coconut Macaroon Ice Cream. This by far has been the best ice cream I’ve tried. The base of the ice cream is a sweet coconut flavoring with coconut flakes. The ice cream features bits of coconut macaroon–chewy little bits of coconut flakes and cookies pieces. Exquisite and may be available in select stores.

These items won’t be in stores forever, so be sure to try them before the spicy tones of autumn roll around.

Why Eating Ben & Jerry’s Boston Cream Ice Cream Should Be A Sin.

Taken by Shinai

Boston Cream Pie Ice Cream

First off, I don’t literally mean to imply that this ice cream breeches any sanctimonious rituals of daily life, or acts to be a blasphemous force to be reckoned with. Not to mention the looming feelings of guilt I felt after indulging in this delciousness. I’m simply saying that this luxurious ice cream, is sinfully delicious. When I first tasted a spoonful, I felt gluttonous, and became fully aware that if I continue to eat this, I’d be committing one of the 7 deadly sins on a hardcore level. So I stopped before things got too intense. :-/  (Yay for self-restraint :-D) . Described on the carton as “Boston Cream” flavored ice cream with fudge flakes, swirls of pastry cream and pieces of cake” this flavor reaches to portray magic in each spoonful. To make sure I describe this accurately without too much exaggerated connotations, I’ll break down each flavor, under-current, and note as I recall.

Firstly, what exactly *is* Boston Cream Pie flavored ice cream? (I don’t mean including the other added

The dimensions of delicious.

stuff like the chocolate flakes, the pieces of cake, and the ribbons of creme, but specifically the ice cream base). Now, think about this- Boston cream pie is NOT just a monotone flavor. One must take into account the chocolate glaze, the cakey foundation, and the gooey, custard rich center that makes it all worthwhile. In the context of this ice cream, what should have read in the product description based on what it actually tastes like is as follows:”Rich custard ice cream meets deep pieces of fudge flakes, dancing with ribbons of pastry creme”. Why? because the base of this ice cream is a plain custard- vanilla base. So if anyone is expecting for there to be more in terms of the ice cream, (such as more chocolate flavor)  there you go. That isn’t to say that the smooth custard doesn’t hold up on its own. No. Quite the contrary. The custard undertone is smooth, and performs well with the bittersweet fudge pieces that don’t get left out in the equation of all this bliss. But just when you thought there wasn’t more, more just arrived. Imagine dense and decadent pieces of vanilla pound cake, which take on the richness of the custard ice cream.

Taken By Shinai

Custard, creme and a little flake of fudge.

Finally, as if that doesn’t wow your tastebuds, there are ribbons of pastry creme to tie it all together. It plays hide and seek, because at one portion of the ice cream pint, you may not get any, but then, when you’re expecting a piece of fudge, or a dollop of cake, BOOM! You’re met with a creamy, velvety goop of pastry cream. This is not for the faint of heart. If this description is too intense for you, then I don’t suggest trying this. But then again, whenever I indulge in something that gives me a guilt complex, I tend to intensify it.I appreciate the uniqueness of this flavor and the attention to detail Ben and Jerry’s have done to provide a nice compliment to the Boston Cream Pie. I’m sure this may not be for everyone, but I enjoyed it. My only gripe is that there could have been more pieces of cake, or better yet, bigger chunks of cake. Also, since the custard ice cream is representative of the custard center, the ribbons in this ice cream could have been chocolate instead of more custard. I did feel that there was an abundance of custard and pastry creme that really mirrored the other. So, in other words, custard ice cream, chocolate ribbons, and bigger cake chunks. Other than than, it’s a great ice cream.

Ben & Jerry’s Boston Cream Pie Ice Cream Yumfactor: 4 tongues and a tastebud (4.5 out of 5 stars) This is really rich and delicate, and uniquely fun treat. I’d be curious to try it with chocolate swirls, and more cake chunks. This is what stopped it from being a 5, because the flavors would have been more balanced in my opinion.

What do you think? Don’t Forget to Rate, comment and subscribe!

Vanilla Bean Coolatta? I think yes!

I went to Dunkin Donuts  today to get my usual croissant, egg and cheese, when I ordered a Vanilla Bean Coolatta. At first, I was apprehensive, bc I don’t drink these type of slushy drinks unless they are fruity, and figured if this had too much milk in it, it may alter the texture a bit too much.

Vanilla Bean Coolatta with no Vanilla Beans

Well, I was pleasantly surprised with how good it was. In describing this, I’d summarize that it’s much like a vanilla popsicle, but has the texture of a slushy. Not too hard to imagine, right? 🙂  I suppose when you think about it, that may be the image you conjure up.  What I really liked was the strong vanilla flavor.  Granted, I saw no vanilla beans, but whatever vanilla based syrup they used has a strong, creamy, almost custard taste, but NOT a heavy texture. It’s perfect for hot day, because you’re indulging in a creamy, and  ice cream like experience, without the heaviness of ice cream.  I had done some research on this product and found that it has been consistently popular, but has been discontinued for a bit.  That caused many fans to be enraged because this item is indulgent and has a richness that is understandably unique.  Here is a post on the product, along with fans responses to it: http://www.slashfood.com/2009/06/03/exclusive-dunkin-donuts-brings-back-vanilla-bean-coolatta-toda/

Drawbacks?- the calorie and sugar content, which should not be surprising because *drum roll please* this is a *sweet item* Therefore, if you are watching your weight, or have a special diet, or have diabetes,please don’t drink this.

Tangent warning: I had to emphasize this, because I get comments from time to time from people who say how unhealthy an item is because they are on a special diet,which is great, but let’s be real, folks- that’s up to you to supervise what goes in your stomach. I’m NOT recommending you drink this if you are trying to live a certain lifestyle, so be aware of this for the future and please don’t send me comments of this nature. (i.e. “How do you expect me to drink this if I’m a diabetic?” Hmm, that’s easy. I don’t. ) Thank you for your cooperation 🙂

Back to the topic at hand;According to Dunkin’s website, a small size (16oz ) has 67g of sugar, and 440 calories. So let’s just say too much of this is not a good thing. 😉 What I did was drank 3/4 of the product, because I do watch my sugar from time to time. I’d recommend maybe drinking a half size, and sharing it with someone else if those numbers scare you, or if not, that’s fine, also. See more here: http://caloriecount.about.com/calories-dunkin-donuts-vanilla-bean-coolatta-i119136

I paid about $2.99 for it, and felt it’s a great indulgent treat from time to time. I even heard that mixing this flavor with the strawberry flavor is blissful. I wanted to keep it simple, so I didn’t, but if you try it, please, let me know what it was like for you.

Vanilla Bean Coolatta Yumfactor: 4 tongues and a tastebud. (4.5 start out of 5)  All around yummy, light, yet creamy and rich. Not as weird as it may sound IF you think it sounds weird. No vanilla beans are in it, so be prepared to be deceived by the name. 😦

The copycat recipe will be posed on another blog post. Stay tuned!

Please rate, comment and/or subscribe.

5 Uses for Butterscotch Pudding Mix~Low Budget Gourmet Ideas

Butterscotch is a classic candy flavor with buttery overtones that add richness to a lot of recipes.  Here are a few idea to kick start using this ingredient, which is perfect for the fall. Butterscotch pudding mix will add both flavor and moisture to the some of the following items
  • Butterscotch Cake. Simply add butterscotch pudding mix to cake mix (I’d say 1/4 of the package) to add flavor, rich color and moistness. I made a butterscotch cake by adding pudding mix to a box cake to experiment.  I also added coconut and topped it of with a chocolate glaze.
  • Butterscotch Milkshake.This is an amazing, and easy way to go gourmet. I added a teaspoon (this can change according to taste preference), soy milk or regular milk (about 1/2 a cup) vanilla (optional) and a cup of ice cream.  This will create a thick and indulgent shake!

    Homemade Butterscotch Milkshake with Whipped Cream and Cinnamon Sugar for a garnish.

  • Butterscotch based cheesecake. (Butterscotch and chocolate, butterscotch and rum cheesecake, butterscotch cheesecake with caramel, chocolate and pecans for the fancy folks out there)
  • Butterscotch Pudding (of course) Pie with coconut, or chocolate, or nuts. This is an alternative for those who want the butterscotch pie without the density of cheesecake.
  • Butterscotch and Walnut/ Butterscotch ad Chocolate Chip cookies. Adding pudding mix to any flour based recipe should give it a nice change of flavor while creating a  chewy texture.

Sure, there are butterscotch chips out there, but they don’t have the same influence on the flavor and moisture of a cake that pudding mix would have. Why not experiment with other flavors like pumpkin, vanilla,white chocolate, chocolate or even pistachio to see what ideas you can come up with! Or if you have already tied this,what items did you make and how did it taste? Don’t forget to rate, comment and/or subscribe!

Cooking Goals: What I’ve Accomplished and not yet accomplished

I love challenging myself and testing my willingness to step out of my comfort zone by assigning myself daring, fun and daily goals. I have a list of many items I have been wanting to cook, and will include them on here. So far, I’d say my progress has been pretty steady. I think cooking goals is a great way to break free of cooking the same dishes over again, and obviously a wonderful method to increase one’s cooking confidence! What cooking goals do you have for yourself? What are your general opinions on goals for success? Have you reached many of your cooking goals? What do you think of making a cooking goals list? (Restricting or innovative) If you has a list, what type of things would you include on it?

I’d love to hear your input, and if you like my posts, please comment, rate and subscribe! Thanks!!! 🙂

This is NOT my comprehensive list. These are just some of the more interesting items I have decided to include.  ENJOY! and feel free to add yours!

  • Peach Cobbler (with fresh peaches and brandy)
  • Chinese Orange Chicken

    Goodness this was divine! Original Photo

  • Thai Tea 
  • Naan
  • Curry Chicken (Jamaican Style)
  • A Breakfast Stratta (with herb sauteed mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, fresh basil, feta cheese, and artichokes)
  • Kimchee
  • Zabaglione Cupcakes

    Grilled Tandoori Chicken- a spicy Indian dish

  • Hummus
  • Crab Cakes (jerked flavored?) from scratch with some kind of an interesting pineapple and jalapeno relish/salsa.
  • Baklava
  • Bhakri
  • Tandoori Chicken
  • Banana-Pineapple Upside down cake
  • Stir Fry the way my mom makes it
  • Pancit

    The popular and delicious Filipino dish Pancit

  • Korean BBQ Chicken
  • Spring Rolls
  • Sweet Potato Wedges with a savory garlic and chipotle mayo.
  • Asparagus cooked in a dry white wine, then topped with a garlic and herb hollandaise sauce OR topped with Italian seasoned panko break crumbs, still cooked in a garlic, butter white wine.
  • Thai Chicken in both light and dark soy sauces, fish sauce, spices, and oyster sauces, with sweet Asian chili sauce.
  • Green Tea and Coconut Cake with a Coconut Glaze
  • Falafel
  • At least 5 frostings from scratch (3 down 2 to go: buttercream, cream cheese, and a glaze so far)
  • Enchiladas
  • Mochi

    Mochi-A traditional Japanese dessert. A Similar delicacy is called "ttoek or Ddoek" in South Korea

  • Samosa (Veggie)
  • Tabbouleh
  • Paella (Seafood)
  • Chicken Patty Jamaican Style
  • Lox
  • Buttermilk Biscuits
  • Chinese Donuts (made during the Chinese New Year of the Rabbit 🙂
  • Bagels from scratch
  • Strawberry Chocolate Layer Cake
  • Veggie Lasagna
  • Orange Cranberry Scones
  • S’mores Cupcakes
  • Strawberry Chocolate Champagne Truffles
  • Pink Grapefruit Yogurt Layer Cake
  • Croissants
  • Layer Cake
  • Danishes
  • Red Lobster Biscuits
  • Guacamole
  • Sweet Mango Sticky Rice

    Add sweeteners to cheesecake, whip and dish it. Easy.

  • Berry Cheesecake (everything from scratch except crust)
  • Chai coffee cake
  • Seafood gumbo
  • Bruschetta 
  • Caramel
  • Pear Brandy Custard Galette with vanilla bean (and a caramel drizzle?)
  • Ginger Coconut Blondies
  • Flavored Frozen Yogurt
  • Nectarine Ice Cream (from scratch)
  • Fun Salads
  • Miso Soup
  • Carrot Cake (with a homemade cream cheese buttercream frosting)


Where Have I Been? Recipes and New Cooking Ventures

The last blog (aside) that I wrote was nearly two weeks ago. Instead of blogging, I have been using some time to get some things done, but most of all, I have been cooking more!!!! I have made scones from scratch, biscuits, dinners, a peach cobbler with fresh sliced peaches, cakes, and interesting drinks! I have a few pictures of them prepared items and will try my best to share the recipes. (Some are from an app on my phone, so I’m not sure if you all will be able to access the same recipes I have used.) (Actually, the app is powered by allthecooks.com) Although I use recipes, I also get creative and add my own ingredients to it to give the dishes originality. So the way they come out will be a tad different from the ways your may if you do follow the directions very closely. Let me know if you are interested in anything else I have listed. I plan on doing a smoothie blog full of recipes and drink ideas I frequently use. Enjoy the 4 or 5 recipes!!!

  • Fun smoothies (like Green tea, mango, orange juice and lime an original- Heavenly!!!) and classic ones, like mango strawberry yogurt smoothies.
  • As of late, I have made three cakes from scratch (green tea and coconut with a glaze, and a pink grapefruit yogurt cake, which I covered previously, and layered  carrot cake with a cream cheese icing), however I decided to make a box cake. This is a French Vanilla Box cake, (with a homemade buttercream icing), but baked in as a layer cake, adding fresh strawberries (which I soaked in sugar and vanilla extract for 2 days). I then assembled the berried in between the layers, and frosted the cake, adding fresh sliced strawberries atop the cake for a pretty garnish. The cake was great, but the recipe I used for the buttercream icing was too sweet!  I will NOT use that recipe again! There is no other recipe to link, so I will just post a pic, and say that you can make layered cakes from the box, and add whatever flavoring, fruits, or icing you want to make it more creative. So think of this as more if an idea, not a recipe.
  • The lovely inside. See the itty, bitty berries?

French vanilla layered cake with homemade buttercream icing and fresh strawberries.

  • Tropical French Toast with bananas and coconut (with a hint of rum which I incorporated in the french toast egg/milk wash) This recipe calls for flour to be used, which makes the french toast more decadent. I also added approx.1 teaspoon of vanilla pudding mix to made the toast more creamy (which I got from another recipe) I did not have any thick bread on hand, so I used plain old wheat. http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/fluffy-french-toast/Detail.aspx For the fruit, I simply took some banana pieces, added butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cook it until it got soft to my preferred desire. I then took some shredded coconuts, and sprinkled it over the banana.

Tropical French Toast with slightly caramelized bananas. They weren't super ripe, and I probably didn't use enough brown sugar. Still good,though.

  • Peach Cobbler with fresh peaches, and a “special ingredient” not listed. I again made it my own by using 3/4 cup of vanilla soy milk, less than 1/4 cup of half and half (to make it a tad fluffy), water (I do that sometimes) and 1 service which is a teaspoon of french vanilla creamer. I added an ingredient that gave the sweet peaches depth, and also some apple pie spice to round the spicy and sweet flavors out. The crust was a bit more dense that other cobblers I have had, and slightly cakey, but I actually liked its richness.

Goodness this was divine!

Cobbler before I tore into it like an animal.