Categories
Appetizer Main Dish Snack

Don’t let delicious sandwiches slide by you

Turkey Cheese Sliders
Turkey cheese sliders are easy and cheap to make with a package of Hawaiian rolls.

Being the good aunt that I am, when my niece came to spend the night with us this past week, I made sure to have a bag of chocolate mini donuts ready for breakfast.

When my sister and brother-in-law came to pick her up, I asked her if she wanted me to send the leftovers with her, and of course, she happily took them home.

Joey just shook his head.

“You’re such a pusher,” he said.

That’s when I held up the package of Hawaiian dinner rolls my mother had somehow weaseled us into taking back to our house on a recent visit.

“I learned from the best.”

So, what’s there to do with leftover Hawaiian rolls? Well, you could work yourself into a carb-induced food coma, or you can do what we did and make some delicious turkey and cheese sliders.

The recipe I used came from the blog “The Novice Chef.” You can find the original post at https://thenovicechefblog.com/cheesy-turkey-sliders/. I changed the ingredients and removed the sugar, figuring I’ve had enough sweets over the past couple months.

Turkey Cheese Sliders
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Turkey Cheese Sliders

Turkey cheese sliders are easy and cheap to make with a package of Hawaiian rolls.
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Keyword baked, butter, cheese, deli turkey, dijon mustard, garlic, Hawaiian rolls, onion powder, sandwich, sliders, spinach, Worcestershire

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound deli turkey
  • 12 Hawaiian rolls
  • 6 to 8 slices cheese I used pepperjack
  • about 1/2 cup fresh spinach
  • 4 tablespoons butter melted
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • garlic salt and pepper to taste
  • sesame seeds to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a nine-by-nine-inch pan (or whatever size you have that can fit the entire package of Hawaiian rolls in it) by spraying it with cooking spray.
  • Leave the rolls all connected, and using bread knife, cut the Hawaiian rolls in half to create a top and bottom.
  • Place the bottom part into the prepared pan. Place the turkey evenly over the rolls, add the cheese, and then finish off with a layer of spinach leaves. Place the top layer of buns on top, and poke just a few holes in the buns with a sharp knife.
  • In a small bowl, combine the butter, garlic, dijon, onion powder, Worcestershire, garlic salt and pepper, and pour it evenly over top of the rolls, spreading it out with a spoon, if necessary to evenly coat the rolls.
  • Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 14 minutes.
  • Remove the foil and bake for another two minutes or until the tops brown.
  • Cut the sliders apart and serve immediately.

These were excellent. Joey and I ate them on New Year’s Eve while we played a board game, and it was the perfect, low-key night.

We recreated the recipe a couple days later (my mom actually gave us two packages of rolls) with deli-sliced pastrami, and it was excellent that way, too. I’m going to keep track of this one for when we’ll inevitably have folks over for the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl. It would be great for the snack table.

And now we know what to do with leftover Hawaiian rolls. As far as mini donuts, find yourself a willing 4-year-old.

This piece first appeared in print on Jan. 6, 2022.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Air Fryer Appetizer Side Dish Snack

Air fryer rangoon can keep you from ‘wonton’ eating

Making crab rangoon is an easy process, and they’re a bit healthier when you make them in an air fryer rather than dunking them in oil.

An article on the website “Atlas Obscura” called “What the Heck Is Crab Rangoon Anyway?” lays out the history of the crispy little Chinese restaurant staple.

The article notes that while crab rangoon are not from China, they’re an invention by Chinese-Americans, who began serving Chinese dishes to Americans of other backgrounds when they came to the United States.

Apparently, the boom of Chinese restaurants in the States was due to a racist policy restricting Chinese immigrants, who were able to use a loophole for “merchant visas” if they owned a restaurant.

“Chinese food was the first Asian cuisine to take hold in the United States; it was unlike the more Eurocentric restaurant scene at the time, and that made it exciting to some Americans,” the article notes.

But as can be expected, some ingredients immigrants were used to in China weren’t available in the U.S., forcing them to get creative with new dishes and allowing items like crab rangoon—those crispy cream cheese and crab filled delicacies—to become a reality.

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love crab rangoon. My love for the side dish came to a head this week when I found a package of wonton wrappers for sale at my local grocery store. The stars aligned, and I decided it was time to give them a try. Plus, I decided it was time to another recipe using my air fryer, which let me make these normally fat-filled little bundles in a much healthier way.

The recipe I used is from the Kansas-City-based blog “Stay Snatched.” You can find the original post at https://www.staysnatched.com/air-fryer-crispy-crab-rangoon/. I changed the cooking time/temperature in my version, because my first batch were a bit over crispy. You may need to adjust for your own air fryer.

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Air-Fryer Crab Rangoon

Making crab rangoon is an easy process, and they're a bit healthier when you make them in an air fryer rather than dunking them in oil.
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Chinese
Keyword air fryer, crab rangoon, cream cheese, garlic, wonton wrappers, Worcestershire

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 6 ounces lump crab meat drained
  • 2 green onions cut into small pieces (I left these out)
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • about 21 wonton wrappers
  • cooking spray

Instructions

  • Combine the cream cheese, crab meat, onions, garlic, Worcestershire and salt and pepper in a bowl.
  • To assemble, lay a wonton wrapper on your countertop. Using a pastry brush or your fingers, lightly brush water around the outside edges of the wrapper.
  • Place a heaping teaspoon of the filling in the middle of the wrapper. Bring two opposite corners up to meet in the middle, and then bring the other two opposite corners to meet them, pressing slightly to seal all of the seams of the wonton and pushing any air out. The wonton should look like a little bundle.
  • Place the wontons in the basket of your air fryer and spray lightly with cooking spray.
  • Fry at 350 degrees for eight minutes, turning the wontons halfway through for even cooking.
  • Serve immediately.

I adjusted my recipe to have a bit more cream cheese than the original. For me, I like the light flavor of crab along with the creaminess of the cheese. But the nice thing about this recipe is you can literally adjust any of these ingredients however you want to meet your personal tastes.

I also love that these are not deep fried, and it’s easy to substitute in fat-free cream cheese if you really want to make these a healthier treat.

I adore a good crab rangoon, and now that I know I have some cool Chinese immigrants who wouldn’t let jerks get the better of them to thank for this appetizer, I think I might like them even more.

This piece first appeared in print on Dec. 9, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Dessert Snack

The Sweet Granada’s avalanche bark truly rocks

Avalanche bark has a great texture, with crunchy rice cereal, fluffy marshmallows and chocolate chunks, along with the flavor of peanut butter.

I used to love field trips as a kid—visiting the Wichita Art Museum, the Kansas Cosmosphere, the zoo, the Kansas State Fair, etc.

It was always an adventure in a new place, and I’m the type of person who enjoys learning something new whenever possible.

As an adult, you don’t seem to get to do field trips as often, so when Joey told me we were going to go to Emporia to visit his new friend Kim, owner of The Sweet Granada: A Chocolate Cafe, he didn’t have to do any convincing for me to jump in the car.

Joey recently met Kim through a small business group, and she invited us to come hang out for a bit and see her operation.

Guys.

There. Was. Chocolate. Everywhere.

It was amazing.

When you walk in, you’re hit with a smell wall of deliciousness, and you immediately want to empty your entire bank account into their till when you see the display cases full of every kind of chocolate-y treat you can imagine. I was, almost quite literally, a kid in a candy shop.

We had a great visit with Kim, got a full tour of their operation, and she even sent me home with a recipe to share with all of you for a treat they make at the shop.

This stuff is not only easy to make but delicious, too. It’s a perfect treat for the upcoming holiday snack table. The only alterations I made was to pare this recipe down, since Kim is used to making everything in bulk.

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Avalanche Bark

Avalanche bark has a great texture, with crunchy rice cereal, fluffy marshmallows and chocolate chunks, along with the flavor of peanut butter.
Course Dessert
Keyword chocolate, crisp rice cereal, marshmallows, no bake, peanut butter, Sweet Granada

Ingredients

  • 22 ounces white chocolate or vanilla almond bark
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1/4 rounded cup crisp rice cereal
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chunks I used bittersweet

Instructions

  • Prepare a nine-by-13-inch baking dish by lining it with parchment paper.
  • In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the almond bark, heating 30 seconds at a time and stirring in between, until it is all melted. Stir in the peanut butter.
  • Once everything is smooth, stir in the marshmallows, cereal and chocolate chunks.
  • Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with a few more toppings, if desired.
  • Let the mixture cool completely on the counter or in the refrigerator and then cut into squares. Store in an airtight container.

This stuff was great. It was rich and had a fantastic texture. I had to immediately give away as much of the batch as possible to keep from eating the entire pan myself.

Plus, I had other goodies from The Sweet Granada that I needed to spend my calories on. (I highly recommend the dark chocolate pretzel caramel bar. That was my favorite.)

If you’re ever in Emporia, I highly recommend your own field trip to The Sweet Granada at 803 Commercial St. And if you can’t make it over there, get online and do your sweets shopping that way—they ship! You can find them at https://sweetgranada.com/. Locally made treats are a great gift for those hard-to-buy-for folks, or you can just let a group of experts make your holiday treats for you and save yourself some time and energy this year.

I love getting the chance to see how different small businesses do their thing around our state, and it was so fun to meet Kim and see her adorable shop and taste her delicious goodies.

That will definitely not be my last visit to The Sweet Granada. Joey just better watch out, because next time, it won’t be a field trip—it’ll be a shopping trip.

This piece first appeared in print on Nov. 4, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Dessert Snack

Love Reese’s eggs? Copy that.

Copycat Reese’s eggs are a delicious facsimile, making it almost impossible to stop at eating just one.

If you do some looking online about the best version of Reese’s candy, you’ll find quite a few articles that discuss the superiority of Reese’s eggs to the normal peanut butter cups.

Yes, I know. I need to spend my time more wisely, but I ended up down a strange rabbit hole, and I figured I’d share the gist so you don’t have to follow suit.

Apparently, the prevailing thought process is that Reese’s eggs are better than Reese’s cups, because they have a better chocolate-to-peanut-butter ratio.

A 2019 piece by Chloe Bryan explains that the ridges on the cup are the problem.

“The trouble with the ridges: The thick edge they create disrupts the cup’s delicate peanut butter-chocolate balance,” she writes. “A bite including ridges will not contain as much peanut butter as a bite containing exclusively innards—and the latter is superior.”

She goes on to say that the Reese’s eggs (or the trees at Christmas time) are just like biting into those “innards” only, making them the better choice.

If I’m being honest, I’ll eat any Reese’s option without hesitation—eggs, trees, cups, pieces, mini, jumbo, etc. I love them. But I do agree that there’s something special about the seasonal varieties, which is why I was drawn to this week’s recipe to make a copycat version of the classic Reese’s eggs, and I have to say, it’s a pretty good copy.

The recipe I used comes from a post on Facebook from Tabatha Swartz on a group called “Pennsylvania Dutch Recipes.” I added a little extra peanut butter, since it helped me use the whole container, but I also included the original measurement in case you’d rather measure it out.

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Copycat Reese’s Eggs

Copycat Reese's eggs are a delicious facsimile, making it almost impossible to stop at eating just one.
Course Dessert
Keyword copycat, cream cheese, milk chocolate, peanut butter, powdered sugar, Reese’s

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 28 ounces creamy peanut butter or three cups
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 2 pounds powdered sugar
  • 2 bags milk chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Beat all of the ingredients except the chocolate chips until well combined. When it comes together, you can turn it out onto your kitchen counter and knead it a bit to finish it out.
  • Form the peanut butter mixture into egg shapes (or whatever shape you like), and place them on a plate or cookie sheet that can fit in your freezer.
  • Freeze for about 30 minutes or until the eggs are completely frozen.
  • Before removing the eggs from the freezer, melt your chocolate by using a double boiler or a by microwaving, 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until the chips are melted.
  • Lay out sheets of waxed paper on your work surface and then, in batches, dip each egg into the melted chocolate, and then place the coated candy on the waxed paper to harden.
  • Store the finished eggs in the refrigerator or freezer in an air-tight container.

These were amazing. They wouldn’t pass a blindfold taste test, but they were so, so good. And if you’re like the dozens of people who have taken to the Internet to talk about how great Reese’s eggs are in comparison to the cups, this might be just the treat for you now that you have to wait all the way until October for Reese’s pumpkin shapes to be on shelves again.

I would caution that these get melty pretty quickly, so I’d highly recommend keeping them refrigerated or frozen in between enjoying them. Also, the great thing about this recipe is you can make any shape you want. You could easily use cookie cutters to get creative and make all kinds of seasonal peanut butter creations.

And, of course, you could put it into some cupcake liners and get the classic ridges, too. Just don’t post online about messing up the chocolate-to-peanut-butter ratio. You may not like the response.

This piece first appeared in print on May 6, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Appetizer Side Dish Snack

Dip into something awesome for game day

Cheesy bean dip elevates boring canned ingredients into something truly spectacular for your snack table.

Until the Chiefs became a part of the post-season, the best part of Super Bowl Sunday for me over the years has been the snack table.

From the days when our church youth group would watch the games while playing a football-themed bingo game to ones with friends gathered in our living room, there has always been a fabulous spread of great food to eat along with the fellowship the game brings.

Of course, it goes without saying that this year’s game will be very different than last year’s Chiefs victory. Last year, our house was packed with people, everyone screaming and yelling when the final seconds ticked down on the game clock, and we all realized we were the Super Bowl champs.

This year, there will likely be more yelling and screaming, and hopefully that will come along with another Lombardi Trophy, but it will be a much quieter din without the crowd of friends and family around us.

Despite the lack of a crowd, Joey and I will still be enjoying some favorite snacks, though, and after I test-drove this one for the AFC Championship game, I have to share it with you.

This comes from Lauren Allen over at her blog, “Tastes Better From Scratch.” You can find the original post at https://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/cheesy-bean-dip/. I doubled the seasoning in my version below and substituted refried beans for whole pintos.

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Cheesy Bean Dip

Cheesy bean dip elevates boring canned ingredients into something truly spectacular for your snack table.
Course Appetizer
Keyword bean dip, cheese, cream cheese, Greek yogurt, salsa, sour cream, taco seasoning

Ingredients

  • 2, 15- ounce cans of refried beans
  • 4 ounces cream cheese softened (I used fat free)
  • 2/3 cup sour cream or plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 packets 1/4 cup taco seasoning
  • 1/4 cup salsa any kind. I used a tomatillo salsa.
  • 1 to 2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese divided

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • In an eight-by-eight-inch baking dish, combine the refried beans, cream cheese, sour cream, taco seasoning, salsa and about 1/4-cup shredded cheese.
  • Mix it well so that the ingredients are evenly distributed, and then spread it evenly in the dish.
  • Top with as much cheese as you like and bake for 25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and just starting to brown around the edges.
  • Serve with tortilla chips or as part of a taco bar.

This was absolutely amazing. I know it isn’t a health food by any stretch, but by using fat-free refried beans, fat-free cream cheese and non-fat Greek yogurt to make this, I felt a lot better about placing a big scoop on my plate during the game.

And it certainly did not taste low-fat, either. The variety of cheese gave it fantastic flavor, and the leftovers quickly disappeared over the next few days, as we integrated them into tacos for lunch.

It won’t be the same to watch the Super Bowl without a crowd of friends this year, but I’m hoping that a few fun dishes on the coffee table might make up for it. Of course, another Chiefs victory wouldn’t hurt, either.

This piece first appeared in print on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Dessert Microwave Snack

This no-bake recipe is just ‘mint’ to be

Andes mint baking chips are the star of these easy, no-bake bars.

I suspect that one of my New Year’s resolutions this year is not quite compatible with most everyone else’s, mostly because it involves some treat making.

Joey pointed out that our freezer was starting to get a little ridiculously full of random ingredients I planned on using at a later date, so I started digging items out and realized he was definitely correct.

My pantry isn’t much better.

So one of my resolutions will be to actually use up the extra ingredients I have laying around and free up some space in the kitchen.

With that being said, if your resolution is to lose weight or eat better, you might want to avoid my column for a little while.

The first thing I decided to use up was a glut of Andes mint baking chips, and I found a great no-bake recipe to use them in.

I found this recipe on the blog “Inside BruCrew Life.” You can find the original at https://insidebrucrewlife.com/andes-mint-cookie-dough-truffle-bars/. I added extra vanilla in my version.

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Andes Mint Cookie Dough Truffle Bars

Andes mint baking chips are the star of these easy, no-bake bars.
Course Dessert, Snack
Keyword Andes mint, chocolate, cookie dough, no bake, truffle

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2, 10- ounce bags Andes mint baking chips divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons shortening

Instructions

  • Start by greasing an 8-by-8-inch baking dish and set it aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugars, vanilla and milk until the mixture is smooth.
  • Add the flour, cocoa powder and salt and beat until everything is well combined. It takes a little bit to get it completely mixed together. Mine started out looking really dry at first, and I was afraid I messed it up. Just keep mixing.
  • Set aside one cup of the Andes mint chips and fold the rest into the mixture. Press the mixture into your prepared pan.
  • In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the cup of mint chips and the shortening and microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until it is melted and smooth.
  • Spread it out over the top of the mixture in the pan and place the bars in the freezer to set up.
  • Once the topping hardens, cut into bars and serve.

The recipe’s author said she used to make this recipe but roll it into balls and dip it in chocolate. Making it in bar form instead made the process go a lot more quickly. I’d recommend putting these in your “I need to make treats but have no time to make treats” section of your recipe box.

These were a huge hit with my family and would be a great recipe for beginning cooks to tackle. I’m a massive fan of Andes mints, so I was extremely fond of these and had to try to stay away from them long enough to share them.

And now my freezer is two bags of baking chips lighter. I figure getting a head start on my New Year’s resolution in December isn’t a bad way to go. I’ll just have to get used to the fitness fanatics in my life avoiding me for a few months.

This piece first appeared in print on Dec. 26, 2019.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Dessert Snack

‘Hummus’ give a strange combination a try

Banana bread hummus is a surprising twist on the normally savory dip made with chickpeas.

When I’m searching for recipes, I sometimes stumble across ideas that seem so weird that I’m completely compelled to try them.

This week’s recipe is one of those: banana bread hummus.

I have made hummus quite a number of times, and it’s a favorite for us, especially when we’re setting up a snack table for guests.

Our normal recipe is a traditional one with tahini, olive oil and tons of garlic, served with carrots and pita bread, so the thought of a sweet hummus recipe threw me for a loop, but I also knew I had to give it a try if for no other reason to just say that I did.

So if you’re like me and enjoy trying weird, new ideas, this is the recipe for you.

This comes from the blog “Make the Best of Everything.” You can find the original post at https://makethebestofeverything.com/2015/09/banana-bread-hummus/. I added extra cinnamon and vanilla and left a hint in the recipe to sweeten the hummus up, if necessary.

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Banana Bread Hummus

Banana bread hummus is a surprising twist on the normally savory dip made with chickpeas.
Course Dessert, Snack
Keyword banana, chickpeas, cinnamon, hummus

Ingredients

  • 15.5- ounce can of chickpeas rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 3/4 cup walnuts roughly chopped, plus more for topping
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Instructions

  • Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until it’s smooth. If the mixture isn’t quite smooth enough, add a little more coconut oil to get it to the consistency you like.
  • Also, I’d recommend taste testing this, and if your bananas weren’t quite sweet enough, you might add a little powdered sugar or a sugar substitute to sweeten it to your liking (I wouldn’t recommend regular sugar, since that might make it taste a bit grainy).
  • Top with some more walnuts and serve with vanilla wafers or animal crackers for dipping.

Truth be told, I don’t think banana bread hummus is going to be on my regular rotation for snacks, but we enjoyed it at a game night with friends. Also, any time I can get ahold of a reason to eat more vanilla wafers, I’m in.

It was a bit tough to get past the idea of eating a sweet dip made with chickpeas, I thought.

It also would be a good snack for someone looking for a wheat-free, egg-free option to enjoy the flavors of banana bread, especially if you can find a good gluten-free cookie to go with it.

I won’t be ready to give up on the classic garlic-y hummus any time soon, but it’s fun to go outside of your comfort zone with ingredients and see what you can do.

Sometimes, the results can be surprising.

This piece first appeared in print on Oct. 31, 2019.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Dessert Snack

Cherry Garcia brownies makes friends ‘Grateful Fed’

Cherry Garcia brownies are patterned after the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor of the same name.

Over the seven years since I started writing this column, my family has gotten very used to being guinea pigs for new recipes.

So much so, that when I showed up with a dish of still-warm brownies for a board game night with my sister and brother-in-law last weekend, my sister looked at me and said, “I’m going to get quoted about this, aren’t I?”

I just shrugged, but yes, Sis, you are.

As I often do when summer rolls around, I bought a big bag of fresh cherries last week, and these brownies seemed like the perfect candidate to include them. I also might have spent some time sampling cherries while I baked, too. Job hazards.

My sister said she generally hates the taste of cherries and chocolate together (she might be adopted), but she gave two thumbs up for the new recipe.

I found this one by Lauren Miyashiro on the website “Delish.” You can find the original at https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a48932/cherry-garcia-brownies-recipe/. I doubled the vanilla, added more cherries and specified a dark chocolate brownie mix in my version.

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Cherry Garcia Brownies

Cherry Garcia brownies are patterned after the Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor of the same name.
Course Dessert
Keyword brownies, cherry, dark chocolate

Ingredients

  • 1 box dark chocolate brownie mix plus ingredients it calls for
  • 8 ounces cream cheese slightly softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup pitted and quartered fresh cherries
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and prepare an 8-by-8-inch baking pan by spraying it with cooking spray.
  • Prepare the brownie mix according to package instructions and dump into the prepared pan. Set it aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, vanilla, egg and sugar until it’s light and fluffy (mine actually ended up mostly soupy, which works, too. Just make sure it’s well combined).
  • Stir in the cherries and chocolate chips and dump the cream cheese mixture over the brownie mix in the pan. Swirl the mixture with a knife to get some of the cream cheese layer into the brownies.
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted down into the brownie layer comes up clean (mine took a bit longer than 45 minutes) and the cheesecake layer on top is set up.
  • Let the brownies cool a bit before slicing. I stored mine in an airtight container in the fridge.

I would recommend cutting these on the smaller side, because they’re a bit rich. The top is creamy, and the bottom is dense and chewy. And then there’s a little layer in the middle between the cheesecake and the brownie layer that’s perfectly gooey.

We had a great time playing games and eating brownies together, and we all decided the recipe was a winner, which was the only winning I did all night.

Maybe next time we get together I can earn some victories with the board games in addition to the kitchen.

This piece first appeared in print on June 13, 2019.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Appetizer Snack

A good dip recipe can go ‘onion’ and on

Onion and corned beef cream cheese dip is an addictive addition to the snack table and takes almost no time to put together.

When I rented my first house after I graduated from college, I got the experience of regularly mowing my lawn—a chore my dad normally claimed when I was a child.

My first lawnmower was electric, leading to me learning to wrangle an extension cord around the yard and moving it to various outlets as I reached different corners.

I’m proud to note that I never managed to accidentally run over the cord in the process.

Now that I’m married, Joey has lawn mowing duties—something I was all too happy to relinquish with my grass allergies, but I couldn’t help but have flashbacks with all the rain this week to having to clean out a clogged lawnmower when Mother Nature soaked the grass for a few days in a row.

Part of that memory of mowing my first lawn is the distinct smell of onions.

A past owner or renter of the house must’ve had a vegetable garden at some point, and mowing the backyard meant encountering quite a few volunteer green onion plants.

I never minded the aroma, actually preferring it to cut grass, and once I figured out where the patches were, a few onions made their way into my kitchen, too.

I don’t know how those of you who have gardens are faring so far with the floodwaters, but I hope the green onions still manage to make their way into the local grocery stores and farmer’s markets this summer.

My favorite way to use green onion is in a cream cheese dip my mom makes for family get-togethers. I’m sure the recipe exists somewhere online or in a cookbook, but I know this as one of her specialties.

A couple notes: the corned beef it calls for is a small package, sliced for sandwiches. If you can’t find corned beef, another thin-sliced beef can be substituted. The idea is to have little wisps of meat throughout the dip rather than big chunks.

Also, you can form this into a cheese ball rather than keeping it in a bowl for serving once it sits in the fridge over night, but I’m a firm believer in making it easy to store leftovers and not making more dishes than necessary, so I always just serve it straight out of the bowl.

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Onion and Corned Beef Cream Cheese Dip

Onion and corned beef cream cheese dip is an addictive addition to the snack table and takes almost no time to put together.
Course Appetizer, Snack
Keyword corned beef, cream cheese, dip, onion

Ingredients

  • 2, 8- ounce blocks cream cheese
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1, 2- ounce package sliced corned beef
  • 1 box of sturdy crackers

Instructions

  • Slice the green onion into about quarter-inch slices and dice the sliced corned beef into small pieces.
  • In a microwave-safe bowl that also has a lid for storage, add the cream cheese and microwave on half power for about 30 seconds, until it’s soft and easy to stir.
  • Dump the green onion and corned beef into the cream cheese and stir to combine well.
  • Cover and store the dip in the refrigerator over night and serve with your favorite crackers (my recommendations are Wheat Thin or Ritz type crackers).

If you’re not a fan of onions, you won’t be a fan of this dip (if that wasn’t obvious on its own). Our family loves it. My mom will often double this recipe for our get-togethers, because it’s always a huge hit. Make sure to have plenty of crackers on hand to enjoy every last bit of it. Also, definitely let it sit in the fridge overnight. The flavors will meld much better, and the consistency will be perfect.

Since I no longer have free onions out in my backyard, I had to resort to the grocery store for my ingredients this time. Maybe someday I’ll have to try growing my own.

For now, though, with all the moisture, our backyard has begun to resemble a jungle more than a garden. Maybe I’ll have to try growing something tropical instead.

This piece first appeared in print on May 30, 2019.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Breakfast Snack

Even granola bars can get into the mix

Trail mix granola bars come together without the oven and with lots of flavor and protein.

I made the cardinal sin of grocery shopping while hungry recently and came home with some awesome trail mix. 

It had raisins and craisins, pepitas, sunflower seeds, peanuts, etc.

Joey saw it and commented that it looked like the perfect mixture to go into some granola bars.

As always, he was right, and I started looking online for the right recipe to use my trail mix in.

The recipe I found comes from the blog “The Chunky Chef.” You can find it at https://www.thechunkychef.com/no-bake-chewy-trail-mix-granola-bars/. If you want to make your own mixture, see her post to get the amounts of each item, or just use your favorite trail mix. This recipe is infinitely customizable. I upped the amount of vanilla and cinnamon in my version, too.

Print

Trail Mix Granola Bars

Trail mix granola bars come together without the oven and with lots of flavor and protein.
Course Breakfast, Snack
Keyword granola bar, peanut butter, trail mix

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned or quick oats
  • 2 1/2 cups trail mix a combo of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, etc.
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter crunchy or smooth
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

  • Prepare an 8-by-8-inch pan by lining it with waxed paper, hanging the paper out over the edges to easily remove the bars later.
  • Add the oats and trail mix to a large bowl and stir to combine.
  • In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the peanut butter, honey, coconut oil, vanilla, salt and cinnamon. Microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until the mixture is smooth. (It won’t take long.)
  • Pour the mixture over top of the oats and trail mix and stir until the dry ingredients are well coated.
  • Dump it into the prepared pan and top with another piece of waxed paper. Using a glass or another pan, compact the mixture down as much as possible in the pan so it’s as dense as you can get it.
  • Refrigerate for at least two hours before removing from the pan and slicing into bars. Refrigerate the bars in an airtight container.

The best part about this recipe is you can literally use whatever trail mix ingredients you want. If you’re into the raisins, M&Ms and peanuts mix, that would be delicious, or if you just want to put your favorite kind of nut or dried fruit in, that would work, too.

My bars fell apart a little, which I think was because I cut them long and skinny instead of a little wider and shorter. I also wonder if I didn’t compact them down as much as I should have.

But falling apart or not, they were really good. The honey and vanilla added just the right amount of sweetness, and the cinnamon gave them a warm, homey flavor.

These would be a great summertime snack to have around, especially since you don’t have to heat up the whole house to make them, and it’s nice to have a granola bar that isn’t full of preservatives, too.

I’m always in the mood for a good trail mix. Having some peanut butter and oats tossed in makes it even better.

This piece first appeared in print on April 18, 2019.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.