Please Sir, May I have S’more

I know, I know, s’mores were so last summer. All summer I just kept thinking I should make one of the many s’mores cookies or s’mores bars out there but I never got to it. This was a good one to flex my baking muscle though! They were a shortbread cookie with a layer of chocolate and a layer of marshmallow. They were topped with a little cookie crumble.
smores_cut_590_390
I made these for my bookclub ladies when I also served them calzones and I knew my colleague Ms. K deserved one after breaking some hearts at work for the youth program.

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2  cups chocolate chips
3 cups miniature marshmallows

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degree F. Spray an 8 inch square baking pan.
Beat butter and sugar until well blended in large bowl. Add egg and vanilla; beat well.
Slowly add flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, and salt, beating until blended.
smores_mix_590_390
Press half of dough in prepared pan. Bake 15 minutes.
smores_baked_590_390Sprinkle chocolate chips over baked layer then sprinkle with marshmallows.
Scatter bits of remaining dough over marshmallows, forming top layer.
Bake 10 to 15 minutes or just until lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. 16 bars.
smores_done_590_390

I liked that these weren’t overly sweet but the gooeyness of the marshmallows made these a fun treat. They’re also a great cookie bar I think everyone would like.

Swappin’ Cookies

I think this is the last of my holiday items to catch you up on. Do you have today off? Great! Make some of these cookies! If you’re working today then just stay tuned this week for a guest blog recipe post and a calzone!

I love all the cookies that come along with the holidays. Growing up I don’t think I realized how lucky I was that Mum made so many cookies, from scratch. I thought everyone was so lucky.

Normally when cookie swaps are mentioned everyone groans and isn’t into consuming more calories this time of year so I think I haven’t been to one since 2008? Wow.
cookieswap_store_590_390
Ms. L invited me to one at Flour that is also a fundraiser for Cradles to Crayons. I’m so glad I took on the challenge but brining cookies to Flour Bakery? Talk about pressure! Let’s also talk about the recipe I chose considering I don’t bake very often: Apple Oatmeal Toffee Drop Cookies. Go ahead, you can laugh.

I made a sugar cookie base thinking I’d make some more cookies soon afterwards…what was I thinking? During packing, buying the house, and preparing to move all during the holidays, I had no time.

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar (I used granulated brown sugar)
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup quick oats
1 green apple, chopped
1/2 cup toffee bits

Directions

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
cookieswap_dry590_390
Cut in butter and sugars together.  Add egg and vanilla, and mix until well incorporated.
cookieswap_wet_590_390
Add oatmeal and apple and stir by hand until combined.
cookieswap_apple_590_390
Form dough into ping-pong sized balls. Form an indent on the top and fill with toffee bits (see the top row). Cover the toffee with the dough from the sides of the well (see the bottom row).
cookieswap_pan_590_390
Bake for 12-15 minutes or until edges start to turn golden brown. Then transfer to a cooling rack.

I made a double batch since we were asked to bring 2-4 dozen. These suckers had lots of butter, brown sugar, and oatmeal. I mixed in granny smith apples but filled them with toffee bits. I think the apple did a lot to keep them soft and the toffee melts so much faster and might leave these with burn toffee oozes if it isn’t stuck in the middle.

Baking a double batch and filling each cookie was a test of my patience. I tried to just go slow and make them all perfect. They came out awesome but baking cookies is hard work! I had 2 trays going and my apt oven was terribly uneven. Two timers, fifty million cookies, and creative cooling racks I was done and ready for the swap. (Mine are in the middle in the back).
cookieswap_table_mine_590_390
There were some awesome cookies at the swap. I had to admit there were a few I thought were below par. I’d never bring chocolate chip cookies to a swap unless they were perfectly cooked and the best ever…these weren’t.
cookieswap_long_table_590_390
I was hoping Joanne Chang would talk more about baking, about Flour, about holiday cookies, etc. She talked about why they hosted this event again but I would have liked to hear about her cookbook or her favorite goodies. She had made Butter Breton Cakes that she was testing for her next cookbook.  They were reallllly good.
cookieswap_box_590_390

Foolproof Black Forest Bread Pudding

As you know, I’m not really a baker. This is a fool-proof dessert that will really wow everyone. It’s really rich and chocolaty. The cherries add a nice touch without too much of a chocolate and fruit combo.
bread_pudd_plate_590_390

Ingredients

8 slices of pumpernickel rye bread (without seeds)
3 tsp butter, melted
1 cup dark cherries, pitted
1 ½ cups chocolate chips
½ tsp cinnamon
¾ cup sugar
6 eggs, beaten
3 cups heavy whipping cream

Directions

Cut bread into 2” cubes
bread_pudd_bread_590_390
Mix bread chunks with with melted butter in a 9×9 baking pan.
bread_pudd_butter_590_390
In a double boiler, melt 1 cup of the chocolate chips with sugar and whipping cream.
bread_pudd_melted_590_390
Sprinkle the remaining chips and the cherries in with the bread chunks.
bread_pudd_cherries_590_390
Remove chocolate from heat and slowly mix eggs into the chocolate/cream mixture.
bread_pudd_3bowls_590_390
Pour over bread and cheeries in the baking dish.
bread_pudd_prepped_590_390
Let sit in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.
Bake 60 minutes at 350-degrees until the center has set.
bread_pudd_baked_590_390
Serve warm.

Fun fact: pumpernickel bread has cocoa in it! Who knew? I didn’t for awhile but when you think about it, cocoa isn’t sweet on it’s own. If you are serving extremely picky eaters I would leave that fun fact until after they’ve tried it.
bread_pudd_plate_590_390
This is an easy make-ahead dessert. I don’t even think you can over cook it! You can definitely add more bread and more eggs/cream in proportion. There should be enough liquid that the bread only peeks out but everything is covered.

Watch Out Now: Food Truck Critique

If you’re not too fooded out from the holiday, here’s a wordy nugget about a fun fall activity. On a whirlwind weekend I managed to fit in my first ever Food Truck Festival. I’m an avid watcher of the Great Food Truck Raceand I enjoy food trucks whenever I can. I was SUPER excited about this festival. It was $5 to get in and I thought it was totally worth it.foodtruck_sign_590_390
Once inside the Suffolk Downs racetrack we saw a swarm of people because it also was a race day. I wonder if they throngs of people would have been there if there weren’t races? It was a beautiful day and so fun.

foodtruck_meatball_390_590
I scoped out all the trucks before deciding. I’m not picky but I wanted my choice to be a good one.

foodtruck_redbones_590_390
I ended up enduring the line at Lobsta Love. This food truck is normally near Harvard. I was 100% NOT impressed and wouldn’t do it again.

I expected a line. I didn’t expect to wait 25 minutes AFTER ordering for my food. Literally. I timed it. I ordered the lobster mac & cheese but unfortunately I didn’t realize it was going to be instant mac & cheese (minus the instant).

foodtruck_line_390_590
It’s my own fault that I cheaped out. The sliders were $6 each and seemed very small. While spending some quality time in line (15 min or so)  I couldn’t see the menu and didn’t realize till afterwards that if I had chosen a slider I could have gotten the bisque shot for $1 which would have helped a tiny slider seem like enough.

foodtruck_lobstamenu_590_390
Mr. J waited in a line, got a crazy hot dog, ate it, and waited some more with me.

foodtruck_hotdog_390_290
While we waited and waited and waited, bisque came out of the truck, sliders, rolls, etc all came out. No mac & cheese. I was pretty disappointed when I saw the Annie’s Mac & Cheese powder go in. Bummer. I could have done that myself.

A bunch of us all waiting for mac & cheese asked if it was really coming or what. The owner said yes, but we were told it would take awhile when we ordered. I said no, I’d ordered from him and didn’t hear that. He’d give us our money back. I said I’d already put in 20 minutes of waiting after my order so I’d stick it out. I definitely gave him some ‘tude but he didn’t seem to care that we were waiting a pretty exorbitant amount of time. Watch out now sir, The Three Bite Rule was here!

I think he really could have thrown a few bisque shots our way, or opened the baggies of cookies they were selling to appease us. I’ve always felt really well taken care of when eating at Clover…not so much at Lobsta no-Love.

When I finally got my mac & cheese I was disappointed. There was about 1 normal fork-full of lobster split into about 3 bites. They dump some bisque on top of instant mac & cheese. Bahh. Sorry Lobsta no-Love, you weren’t impressive. Did I think you were cooking and cracking lobsters to order? Nope. Doubt it. How could it have taken so long? I still can’t figure it out.

foodtruck_mac&cheese_590_390
Now I’m going below the belt: why do they have a facebook page and a twitter account if they don’t use them? I get it you’re busy, but don’t have them if you a) don’t know how to use them or b) don’t bother to use them.

Anywho, the festival got a lot more fun when Mr. J and I discovered a FAST moving line for cookie ice cream sandwiches! Check ‘em out! Also, they know all about using their facebook and twitter accounts.

foodtruck_cookie_back_590_390
We chose a gingerbread cookie with pumpkin ice cream. AMAZING! We split it and it was plenty. The cookie was perfect. It was strong enough to hold the ice cream but soft enough to bite into. The ice cream? Woah. So good.

foodtruck_cookie_truck_390_590
What a great idea…and more importanly, they know how to move their line though. Follow them on twitter or facebook (they know how to use ‘em).

Bottom line for food trucks: don’t run with the big dogs if you can’t keep up!

Better Than Ice Cream

Happy almost weekend. Don’t ya just need some ice cream? I could probably go for some ice cream any day, anytime. BUT there’s ice cream, and then there’s gelato. One of my favorite things in Italy is all the gelato. It’s so amazing. I also just looks so much nicer than American ice cream too. I remember how much I loved it the first time I had some in 2011 in Rome.

honeymoon_flor_gelatto_sign_590_280
It was just as delicious this time. I was also psyched to introduce Mr. J to it. Of course he loved it! He imagined it to be more icy and less creamy than it is.

honeymoon_flor_gelatto_cups_590_390
Gelato was our “meal” during our six hours exploring in Florence. In Spain we spotted this stick place that had it coated in a hard shell. Mr. J had to try one. Afterwards we kind of felt like just experienced a European tourist trap.

honeymoon_flor_stick_390_590

It wasn’t as good as regular gelato. It also was quite pricey…darn those euros.
honeymoon_flor_gel_stick_390_590
Gelato is so pretty piled high overflowing from the metal containers. I scooped ice cream for a good portion of my high school & college life so I feel qualified to attest that 3 gallon tubs we hung over to scoop from never look this nice.

honeymoon_flor_gelat_590_390
The crisp stuck in is the perfect touch for gelato in a bowl. Love it!

Guest Blog: Dessert Diva

While I’m in NYC working an event I’d like to reintroduce you to Miss Liz.

Miss Liz writes:
For the last few months, I have been the de-facto “party planning committee” work (Me-physician assistant working at at hospital-this will be come important later). Collecting money=annoying, but menu planning=fun. Well, one of our physicians left for a fellowship position last week, so I made trifle, which is one of my specialities.
cupcakes_tray_290_200
But this presented a problem because I really couldn’t make the same thing for another physician’s going away party this week. Someone suggested cupcakes but I wasn’t completely sold on the idea. The next morning during rounds, one of our physicians is eating a frosting filled donut (Yes, physicians eats frosting filled donuts for breakfast and then talk to you about diabetes and heart disease!). The donut inspired me, why not try filling cupcakes with frosting?
cupcake_single_290_200
Overall, it was actually very easy and went well. I used boxed cake mixed and make the cupcakes as per the box.
After they cooled, I used a knife to pop the top off, then with a pastry bag filled with frosting I injected until the top of the cupcake bulged.
cupcakes_200_290
Then I frosted the cupcakes as normal. Everyone loved the cupcakes and thought they were so fancy. Its a great easy and fun dessert especially if you need to take it to go!
cupcake_stuffed_290_200
One suggestion-I made two batches chocolate and vanilla. The vanilla cupcakes were considerably smaller and I had a harder time getting the top off. So next time, I would air of the side of making bigger cupcakes.

cupcakes_tray_290_200
I also made mini-cupcakes. These are great and remind me of my childhood, when my mother would make small muffins for us which we called “baby girl muffins”. But I didn’t even attempt to fill these! I use this all the time, mostly for brownies. I know it sounds crazy, but I prefer brownies from the box. So, i just spray the tray with pam and bake. When the brownies are done, you don’t have to cut anything and it makes serving very easy!
Thanks Miss Liz! If YOU are interested in being a guest blogger email emily@thethreebiterule.com!

Tasti (Forgive The Spelling- It Wasn’t Me)

After majoring in English and Journalism in college it always annoys me when companies misspell words to be catchy. Tasti D-Lite? Yikes! Grammatical errors are the same. Toys R Us? Come on!

I put that aside and eat their ice cream none the less (Tasti’s ice cream, not Toys’). Boston got it’s first Tasti D-Lite a while ago, but I hadn’t been other than in NYC. When I saw one in Florida I knew it had my name written allll over it.

I scooped ice cream, for a living, as a summer job in high school so I sympathize when ordering ice cream especially if they have to sing, dance, or wear funky uniforms. Their staff don’t have to lean head-first into freezers so I only felt so-bad for them. Luckily my ice cream was just ice cream so there was very little explaining to do whereas they have to teach customers what it means.

I got mud pie…which wasn’t the best ever. I felt guilty asking for a sample but I probably should have gone with the Cinnamon Crunch or Toffee Crunch which I just assume I’d prefer.

Mr. J got cake batter with fudge and vanilla crumbles. I thought his was super sweet but he liked it enough even though soft serve is more my thing than his. He leans towards regular ice cream but as Mum would say he could “choke it down”.

I Hate to Bake (well, hate is a strong word)

Allow me to introduce you to the  I Hate To Cook Book by Peg Brackenand an easy chocolate cake!Anyone can make this cake…even a non-baker like me! I grew up with homemade cakes, cookies of all varieties, cream cheese frosting, trifle, yogurt coffee cake, and a different dessert all the time. Mum is the best non-professional baker I’ve ever met but I rely on her for my treats and I don’t bake much.

She makes a mean Milky Way cake. I don’t love fruit desserts so I lean towards something with chocolate or caramel or nuts…why not all three?!

choc.cake_piece
Our family doesn’t deviate from our favorites. Birthday cake is ALWAYS chocolate ring of coconut fudge cake. Nobody will choose anything different. I was at my parents house for lunch and Mum whipped up a cake to go with it. It’s one we made way-back-when and it’s like a wild card…play it when nobody is expecting it.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cocoa
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 cup water

Directions

choc.cake_ingredients_290_200
Assemble dry ingredients in a 9 x 9 pan and stir to combine.
choc.cake_flour_290_200
Add wet ingredients and stir well.
choc.cake_mixed_290_200
Bake at 350 for 20 – 30 minutes.
choc.cake_frosted_290_200
(It’s a bit tricky to remove from pan.  Don’t be in a hurry.  If you are in a hurry, serve it directly from pan.)

It is fluffy and actually tastes like chocolate. I hate cheap brown cakes…they’re not chocolate! I inherited an intense love for chocolate from both of my parents. Dad loves something chocolate after certain meals.

All desserts are welcome in my world, especially to help me celebrate my birthday on Thursday! Stay tuned for my Birthday Mac & Cheese Taste-Off!

Save The Day and Send ‘Em Brownies

I’m not a baker so I just LOVE baked items from others! I also love saying thank you with food. I’m lucky that at work we were thanked with food! We got a mixed box of Fairytale Brownies.Yay for treats in the conference room. Also, it happens to be a very warm part of the office so these delicious brownies seemed more like freshly baked goodies!
brownie_ad_290_200
We received a big box of snack-sized brownies. Snack size was perfect sample a bunch of different flavors. My favorites were toffee crunch and espresso nib.
brownie_box_290_200
Nib: (plural) crushed cocoa beans. Who knew? Now you can use that in Jeopardy.

These will be a fun thing to send, especially for a group!

“Easy” Oreo Truffles

These no-bake cookies, excuse me, truffles, are by no means easier than baking a cookie. I’m not an avid baker but this turned out to be about the same amount of work. Mrs. E saw them in a magazine add so we gave ‘em a whirl. They were fun to eat, didn’t use many ingredients, but they were definitely more of a challenge than we anticipated.

oreo_done_290_200
I think these “Easy Oreo Truffles” have been around for awhile but they seem to be a crowd pleaser. Kraft Foods included them in a recent magazine and the recipe is online everywhere!

Ingredients

-1 package Oreo Cookies, divided
-8 oz. Cream Cheese
-1 pkg. Baker’s Chocolate, melted

oreo_setup_290_200

Directions:

Set aside 6-8 cookies for the topping.
Crush cookies in food processor or in a sealed bag until finely chopped. Add cream cheese and blend.
Roll into 1″ balls with a mini melon baller or teaspoons.
Dip in chocolate, and sprinkle top with crushed cookies.
Refrigerate until chocolate hardens.

oreo_bowl_290_200
These are extremely sticky. Mrs. E and I would advise figuring out a few tool options prior to getting your hands oreo-ified! Refrigerating the cream cheese mix and crushed oreo might have helped make it easier to form.

I also recommend melting chocolate chips instead of solid chocolate pieces. We used a double boiler allowing us to take our time to dip them. I first attempted toothpicks, to no avail…maybe it would have worked if the formed balls were frozen. I ended up dropping the formed balls into the melted chocolate on the double boiler and spooning them out.

What else could go inside? Maybe nuts would have been good for a varying texture. The recipe calls for 1” balls, we made them smaller but maybe bigger would have been better. My last thought was making them a cookie bar with a chocolate topping or making them into mini muffin tins with chocolate topping, of course.