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.

Salads: They’re Only As Boring as You Make Them!

Many people frown up at the idea of eating a salad, providing endless excuses as to why they’re uneatable. With a little creativity, you can create appetizing salads, full or meat (or not) and fun toppings to satisfy the beast within. Below are quick tips to sprucing up greens, and adding a dash of colorful nutrition to your lifestyle.

  • Themed salads. Make salads with meats and follow through on flavor with themed ingredients. You can try a chicken taco salad, beginning with a layer of bagged salad, cheddar cheese, taco-seasoned chicken,  sour cream, tomato and beans. Adding rice underneath the layer of mixed greens can be a more filling option to give you carbs and a feeling of fullness.
  • Add fruit and be merry. Adding berries,  oranges and other fruits can fan any salad fun. Here’s an example. Take a half a bag salad, add mandarin oranges (1-2 8 oz. servings), a Asian Toasted Sesame flavored salad dressing, and add fried chow mein noodles. Stir until you’ve got a fun Asian-inspired salad your tastebuds will beg you for. This can be spruced up with cold grilled chicken strips or shrimp seasoned with peanut sauce. Adding cold noodles in place of the fried chow mein noodles will also rock your mouth’s tastebuds off.
  • Be creative and add seasonal touches to your salad. Fall usually beckons orange and red-colored fruits and veggies, savory flavorings such as apple or pears spiked with nutmeg and cinnamon, and the ever popular butternut squash. Why not try to expand the borders of plain salads and dressings to a mountain of colors, roasted veggies and ripened, yet tangy fruit? Cranberries, croutons and chicken with a balsamic vinaigrette would make anyone’s tastebuds rave. Here is another savory, autumn-themed salad for the spirit.
  • Pair up your salads with comforting and indulgent soups, sandwiches or fuller meals. Still think salads are for sissies? They can make fun side dishes and are a versatile, easy way to up your nutrition. The water content in salads hydrate your body and invigorates the living sludge out of your low energy levels. They perk up your day and are chock full of vitamins to help you live your best life possible. Just go out, have fun and make the salad your canvas.

Visit this site to find out more about salads and their purpose in life.  Don’t forget to rate, comment and subscribe to this blog for fun food ideas, restaurant reviews and must try products! 

What I’m Sippin On: Green Tea and Strawberry Smoothie (With Recipe)

Hello all! So, fun fact time: I love making and drinking smoothies. It’s a great way to get your fruits serving, calcium and even protein! It’s a great way to replace a meal, and you can even add veggies to your smoothies!!! (I think only carrots may work for this, though) I am currently drinking a green tea and strawberry (with orange juice) smoothie. I love the green tea’s light and herbal flavor, but I also appreciate its light caffeine content. I will be doing a post on why green tea is so epic of a tea, including health benefits, info on tea types (loose leaf, powder and bag). The only thing is I seldom measure when I create things, but I do want you guys to have the recipe. I do think these measurements are pretty accurate, though. It’s delicious! You’ve gotta try this recipe.

Green Tea and Strawberry Smoothie (2 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tsps.Matcha Powder (Green Tea Powder- I’m thinking you can also use 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of chilled green tea, just be sure to make sure you sweeten it prior to using it. You may need to adjust this as you go aing, because matcha powdered green tea has a different flavor than liquid green tea in drinks I find. So please, pour, mix and sip, then adjust if necessary! In order to make green tea, please follow the directions on the back of the green tea box.) I bought mine on ebay, but you can find it at Asian stores as well.
  • 1/2 cup Vanilla Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk (can be soy or regular)
  • 2 -4 strawberries (depends on how berry you want it to be. I used 2. Can also be frozen)
  • Vanilla flavoring (extract or syrup. I used French Vanilla Flavored Torani syrup) (Vanilla enhances whatever flavors you are using)
  • 1-3 tsps of sugar *to taste* (Can also be substituted with agave nectar, honey, or splenda)
  • 1/4 c orange juice (Really, I just poured enough in the container, and eye measured it.
  • ice cubes (I used about 5-6 whole cubes)

(I used a magic bullet blender to make this.)

1) Spoon 1/2 cup of Vanilla flavored yogurt into the container. This can be adjusted according to how much protein, yogurt content you desire. More yogurt will make the smoothie thicker in texture.

2) Add matcha green tea powder (or cold sweetened green tea) Then add 5 to 6 ice cubes. This can be altered to your personal taste level, but remember that more ice cubes equals a colder beverage, and too much ice can make the drink more slushy  in texture.

Smoothie will be more pink than green, because you are using a small amount of green tea.

3) Add 2-3 strawberries, vanilla flavoring, milk and orange juice. If you are also using a magic bullet, it should be nearly full of ingredients by now. Add desired sugar amount (I added about 2.5 teaspoons)

4) Blend until smooth. You may have to premix the smoothie to ensure the yogurt becomes well incorporated. Smoothie is finishes when it is light pink in color, and smooth in consistency. If you see green powder, or yogurt, please blend until it mixes well.

5) Garnish with a strawberry if necessary. Enjoy!! This can make 2 servings, but if you want more, you can add more milk, which shouldn’t alter the flavor of the smoothie. The consistency however, may be changed. Play with the  fruit content, as well as the yogurt content to get the balanced texture.

*Optional* For added protein content, add desired amount of protein shake mix to smoothie, or even use vanilla soy milk. I have made similar smoothies with soy milk, and it tastes wonderful! Also, you may use powdered sugar in smoothies as they contain a small amount of corn starch, which acts as a mild thickening agent! Info on matcha can be found here: http://www.google.com/search?aq=f&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=matcha

TTS Tips: Stuff To Do With Pesto Sauce

Pesto, the perfect mix of pine nuts, basil, garlic, parm and olive oil enhance bland dishes and can be quite a versatile condiment to have in your household. I’ll admit that I’m a pesto fanatic. Mostly because I love anything with garlic and basil, and find that pesto can really add pep (Oh, goodness.what a cheesy adjective.) To almost anything!! I’m going to give a few tips on what else your pesto may be good for. But mind you, I am *not* a pesto expert and these ideas will be from the top of me head, so here goes.

  • The most obvious use- in your pastas!  This is what pesto has been used for historically, and it’s practical, and delicious!
  • As a spread for sandwiches! Try this- Grab a toasted bagel, spread some pesto on there, and fill the center with whatever you want! From a veggie sandwich (using mushrooms, onions, sprouts, and sun dried tomatoes), or for a baked chicken sandwich, this spread is sure to please. Even add it to a wrap for a fun snack.

    Asiago Cheese bagel with baked chicken patty and *pesto sauce*

  • As a dip. Combine pesto and mayo to create a fun dip for company, or not.  (Honestly, I just came up with this one, and don’t have a recipe, but just combine both ingredients until it’s well balanced in flavor.) I’m curious abut what a pesto bean dip would taste like. You can even toast some Italian bread, add a little ore olive oil, and di it in the pesto-olive oil mixture.
  • As a pizza base. Yes, as a pizza base. I love pizza, but often react to the harsh marinara sauce, so I find that having a variety of pizza bases from a “white base” (usually olive oil and maybe garlic) or a “green base” are fun ways to enjoy my pizza in a new and exciting way, without the heartburn!You can build your own pizza by buying the ingredients at your local grocery store, and add some pesto on th crust, followed by cheeses, veggies and your meat. I do recommend chicken or a turkey with pesto, because I have had it and know it’s tasty. I cannot be certain of the darker meats, though.
  • Combine pesto with cream cheese and make a fabulous spread on a bagel or a cracker!
  • As a marinade for chicken/other meats. You can combine some salt, pepper, pesto and maybe a little white wine, whisk it together in a bowl and spread it evenly over the meat. Let it sit for a few hours/overnight, and you’ve got well seasoned, and tasty chicken!
  • In baked goods, or quickes/fritatas/strattas. Combine small amounts (or to taste) in quickes/fritatas/strattas to add a new element of flavor, or even make pesto+ veggie flavored breads, or savory muffins. Even make a pesto and cheese loaf (with a mozzarella, parm, garlic and cream cheese spread?)
  • Pesto butter!!! Combine pesto and butter until the desired consistency.
  • Pesto Bruschetta- Take a few slices of Italian(French or Cuban) bread, and either smear it with a fresh clove of garlic, and the pesto sauce, toasting it until crisp. Then, Add chopped tomatoes (fresh or sundried) and minced garlic (optional) as well as grated parm, mozzarella, or feta cheese. While I was writing this, I wondered if there was actually a recipe for this, because I didn’t want to make something up that was not going to taste good. I found one!! Here it is-http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Pesto-Bruschetta
  • And on a salad- either pasta, chicken salads or green leafed salads! There i actually a salad dressing that combines basil and balsamic. Though its not pesto, the basil flavor is strong and gives the idea of how basil would taste on a salad.

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.

Panera’s Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich- Reviewing My Obsession+Copycat recipe

Close Up

Everyone who knows me knows how much I love and often crave Panera’s Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich. Here’s why. It’s light and refreshing, healthy, full of both sweet and savory flavors, and it’s rather exotic in nature. First, let’s analyze this sandwich from inside out. Sun dried tomato and basil bread, with a sweet undertone around the crusts, a tangy hummus spread on the bread adding a nice kick of flavor and complexity,cilantro,  fresh cucumbers, lettuce, spicy Peppadew  peppers, red onions, and tomatoes…and FETA cheese!!!!  The bread is soft and full of flavor itself.

Inside Shot

And no, I’m not a vegetarian,but this sandwich is good enough to make me order it faithfully at Panera for over 5 years. I have tried other items as well, but this Panera’s Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich with a cup of their epic Iced Green Tea is all I need to have a great day. Plus, it’s under 650 calories!! (or a few little numbers above 650, but not above 670)

Copycat Recipe link!!!! alla *Debbie Does Dinner*

http://debbidoesdinnerhealthy.blogspot.com/2010/09/mediterranean-veggie-sandwich-with.html

Panera’s Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich Yumfactor- 5 tongues!!! I just only wish there were sun-dried tomatoes versus regular ones, but it’s still amazing! Cost- $6.30 including tax.

Buttermilk Biscuits From Scratch!!! Recipe and Review!

I have heard from biscuit enthusiasts that biscuit making was no joke. From the wide variety of methods to the variety of styles, biscuits are diverse, yet timeless. This essential food is one I often crave, and have been contemplating making. I searched from a biscuit recipe that I was not familiar with, offering my a sense of culinary innovation and a dash of a challenge/risk element. Would I even like these biscuits? Would this uncommon ingredients used in this recipe pay off, or disappoint?  Plus, it’s somewhat sweet! The recipe is adapted from P4  on food.com.  The link to the recipe will be available upon clicking on the 2nd biscuit photo below. I hope you enjoy it!

My biscuits. Not the best photo as it was taken on my phone. Sadly,I am *not* a phone photographer.

I made the biscuits today, and they came out fluffy, moist and provided my taste buds with an underlying richness that is not typical is the biscuits I have tried previously. They were slightly sweet as the recipe called for 2 tablespoons of sugar. (I suggest toning it down to one if you’d like to have a less sweet aftertaste)

Biscuits pictured on the site. Click photo for the recipe!

I also occasionally have an issue with the bottom of my stuff getting burnt, so I slapped some a thin layer of butter on the cookie sheet, and turned the oven down to 375 degrees, compared to the 400 degrees that the recipe called for. I’m not sure if you have that issue, but if you do, I recommend doing the same. Only thing is the baking time will change, (from 8-10 minutes, to almost 20!) but the inside will be done,baking evenly and the bottom a little darker than the top, but not burnt. More so of an average brown color. I also added some butter atop the hot biscuits, adding more flavor as it melted into the biscuits nooks and crannies.

Also, if you don’t have a jumbo size egg, I read you can substitute that with a regular sized egg and a tsp. of milk.  You can click the picture which should direct you to the site. Granted, mine don’t look as smooth, but the texture if fluffy and soft (and the darn things were delish!). Also, I’m not sure how much of a difference having a bicsuit cutter makes visually, but I didn’t have one. The glass I used was good enough, though. =)

I give these biscuits 4 tongues and a taste bud (4.5 out of 5) just because I’m not so used to sweet biscuits, however, the sweetness would make an excellent compliment to a savory dish. {TIP} Pair these beauties with savory meats like

  • sausage
  •  bacon
  •  turkey
  •  chicken
  • seafood based breakfast items (seafood grits,ect)
  • Savory seasoned eggs (like Southwest types) to balance the sweet undertone, giving the dish a nice balance.

Also, you can get creative and make a unique butter/spread for these biscuits. From Almond butters, to Honey butters (even with vanilla!) to garlic butters (which may be unflattering with this biscuit), or even a spicy cinnamon butter may be a nice touch! Even your tangy fruit, like blood orange jam, or cranberry relishes may bring out that depth you may want!