Red Velvet Rice Krispies – A Quick, Easy Last Minute Valentine’s Treat!

A festive spin on an old classic.

Yes, I know, two posts in one day. What can I say? I’m on a roll.

Being a baker while at school is difficult. I SHOULD be spending my time studying and working, but I just can’t help but bake! Sometimes, though, I have no choice but to spend the majority of my time focusing on my studies, this is where this awesome recipe comes in.

As everyone and their mothers (hopefully) know, tomorrow is Valentine’s day. As mentioned in my  last post, it is tough to get baking done for a holiday mid week. Whether you are working, studying, or busy being a mom, there are other more pressing things to deal with besides baking.

For those of us who have had no time up until the last minute to bake ,this recipe is perfect. It takes less than twenty minutes, start to finish, to produce these delicious creations. They are simple and quick to make, yet unique, delicious, and not so horrible for your waist line (or at least that is what I like to tell myself! :P).

So if you STILL don’t have anything made for tomorrow, or if you want to munch on some yummy snacks to get through the pain of tomorrow (I don’t judge!),  run to the supermarket really quick and make yourself a batch!

Adapted VERY slightly from Foodbeast

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 (10.5 ounce) bag mini marshmallows
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup red velvet cake mix (you can decrease to 1/4 for milder flavor, or increase to 3/4 for more cake flavor)
  • 6 cups Cocoa Rice Krispies cereal
  • Chocolate Candy Coating or Chocolate Chips (The original calls for vanilla candy coating or white chocolate chips, but I have always been a chocolate kind of gal 🙂 )

1. Line a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper and coat well with cooking spray. Set aside.

2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add marshmallows, cake mix, and vanilla, stirring until smooth. Fold in the cereal until well coated.

3. Transfer sticky cereal mixture to the prepared pan, pressing down until the top is level.

4. Once cooled, drizzle with melted candy coating or chocolate top. Once set, cut into bars and serve.

***Some tips!***

Don’t press down too much on your treats; doing this will make them harder.

Also, use a new bag of mini marshmallows. Previous opened packages often affect the overall outcome of rice krispie treats.

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Jelly Stuffed Cinnamon Donut Holes

They HAVE to be healthy... they contain fruit!

I get into this recipe, I feel it is necessary for me to say a few words about Joe Paterno.  As many of you know, he passed away today after a short battle with lung cancer. Joe Paterno dedicated over fifty years of his life to Penn State, donating millions of dollars, and positively influencing thousands of young men and students. To look past all of the good he has done for my university, and to instead focus on his one mistake is wrong. He was quoted as saying, ‎”They ask me what I’d like written about me when I’m gone. I hope they write I made Penn State a better place, not just that I was a good football coach.” His family has requested donations to be made in his name to THON, the worlds largest student-run philanthropic organization that helps fight pediatric cancer.

Now on to happier subjects…

Last week, I received an EXTREMELY unexpected (but none the less AWESOME) gift from my friend Giulia: a Babycakes Cake Pop Maker! There are certain things that I, as a baker, are afraid to make. This list includes (but is not limited to): cinnamon rolls, fried donuts (or fried ANYTHING for that matter), and cake pops. I don’t know, the whole process of making a cake (only to ruin it), mixing with frosting, shaping into a ball, etc.etc. seems SO lengthy and time consuming. With this new gadget, I can make cake pops in FOUR minutes.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have all the ingredients I needed to make this awesome cake pop recipe today. However, this cake pop maker can make another one of my favorite treats…Donut Holes!!! I made a batch with grape jelly, and one without (since some hate fruit with their dessert!).

The results? They turned out great! A flavor-filled pop-in-your mouth dessert. They are sweet, moist, and the grape jelly really makes the donut hole THAT much better. The best part was how quick they were to make! It’s dangerous to have an awesome recipe that you can make and fill in less than 30 minutes!

If you don’t have a Babycakes Cake Pop Maker, don’t worry! You can still make this recipe in a mini muffin pan! 

This recipe is from the Babycakes Cake Pop Maker Instruction Manual.

Ingredients:

1/2  cup sugar

1/3 cup shortening

1 egg

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup milk

6 tbsp butter, melted

Cinnamon-Sugar Topping:

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions for Cake Pop Maker:

  1. Beat together sugar and shortening in mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in egg.
  2. Stir together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.
  3. Alternately blend in flour mixture and milk into shortening mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
  4. Fill each cooking reservoir with about 1 tbsp batter ****
  5. Bake 4 to 5 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into puffs come out clean.
  6. For cinnamon-sugar topping, combine cinnamon and sugar in small bowl. Immediately roll hot puffs in melted butter then in cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  7. Once cooled, stuff donuts with your choice of jelly, jam, or even chocolate! Mine came with a little tool for stuffing, but you can stab the side of your donut holes with a pastry bag tip and fill it through the pastry bag!

**** I found it easiest to put the batter in a ziplock bag, and snip the bottom corner to pour the batter into the machine.

Directions for Mini Muffins:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and generously spray a mini muffin tin.
  2. Beat together sugar and shortening in mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in egg.
  3. Stir together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.
  4. Alternately blend in flour mixture and milk into shortening mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
  5. Fill each muffin cup half full. Bake for 9-12 minutes, or until tops are golden brown.
  6. For cinnamon-sugar topping, combine cinnamon and sugar in small bowl. Immediately roll hot mini muffins in melted butter then in cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  7. Once cooled, stuff donuts with your choice of jelly, jam, or even chocolate! Mine came with a little tool for stuffing, but you can stab the side of your donut holes with a pastry bag tip and fill it through the pastry bag!

 

Cinnamon Swirl Loaf Cake

Cinnamon-y goodness

I am THIS close to being finished with the first week of classes  for the semester and I CAN’T WAIT for this upcoming three day weekend. I am not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination; I am the type who NEEDS her beauty sleep or I become what I like to call a “cranky pants”. Most people describe me as cheerful or outgoing, however if you stumble into me at 8:00 in the morning I am more like a grumpy, hungry zombie.

With the extra day of relaxation, I will definitely be catching up on some sleep AND some recipes that I have been dying to make! One recipe that I have always wanted to try have been Cinnamon Buns. For a college student who lacks a ton of free time, though, most Cinnamon Buns recipes seem complex and time consuming. However, I have found the PERFECT solution: Cinnamon Swirl Loaf Cake!

This recipe is super simple to make, using ingredients that bakers have right in their kitchen! It is also extremely quick to put together: in less than 15 minutes I had this bad boy in the oven. The delicious cinnamon scent filled my entire apartment (and made me salivate :P). I didn’t think it was possible, but the only thing better than the aroma given off by the loaf cake was the TASTE. It tasted exactly like a cinnamon bun! The cake was moist and filled with flavor. My official lab taste testers, Cori and Giulia, gave this recipe two thumbs up calling it “amazing”. Even Nicholas ate it up and praised the recipe!

This recipe is from Tried and Tasty.

Ingredients

1/3 c sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 c sugar
2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg (I didn’t have an egg, so I used applesauce and it infused a great flavor!)
1 c milk

1/3 c vegetable oil

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease/flour/spray the bottom and sides of a 9″x5″x3″ loaf pan.
  2. Combine 1/3 cup of sugar, and cinnamon. Set aside. Combine 1 cup of sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl or mixer bowl. In a separate bowl, beat egg. Then, stir in milk and oil .
  3. Make a well in the flour mixture, and add the egg mixture. Stir just until mixed. Do not over mix. Pour half of the batter into loaf pan. Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon mixture. Repeat.
  4. With a wide rubber scraper or spatula, swirl mixtures together with a down and up circular motion. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until done. Cool in pan for about 10 minutes. Then, cool completely on a wire rack.

Cherry Cheesecake Bars

There are cherries on here...does that mean it's healthy?

I’m baacckkkk…. at school that is. Which means two things: my stress levels are going to go through the roof, and the quality of my blog pictures are going to go WAYYYYY down.

When I went home my father made a baking request; these are rare and always granted. He told me that both himself and my mother LOVE Cherry Cheesecake.  Now, I don’t know if you have noticed, but I don’t like to make “traditional” desserts: I combine things, and I love to change their form. So when I saw this Betty Crocker recipe,  I KNEW that I had to try it.

I was never a humongous fan of cheesecake; I enjoyed cream cheese exclusively on my bagels (and in certain crock pot recipes). After trying out this recipe, however, I have to admit that my position has changed. This recipe was SPECTACULAR. It was simple (with my KitchenAid Mixer), decadent, and delicious. The rich, creamy cheesecake layer was paired perfectly with the sweet cherries. What makes this even better? The crust! Instead of a traditional graham cracker crust, this recipe calls for sugar cookie mix instead! A sweet treat and a great alternative! I omitted the almonds that the recipe calls for since my mother doesn’t like them, but I am sure that they would have made this dessert even better.

Ingredients:

Cookie Base and Topping:

1 Pouch Sugar Cookie Mix (1 lb 1.5 oz)

1/4 cup cold butter or margerine

4 oz (half of 8 oz package) cream cheese

OPTIONAL: 1/2 cup sliced almonds

Filling:

2 1/2  packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

2 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 tsp almond extract (I did not have this on hand, so I substituted vanilla extract)

2 eggs

1 can  (21 oz) cherry pie filling

1.Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom and sides of 13×9-inch pan with cooking spray. Place cookie mix in large bowl, or bowl of a standing mixer. Cut in butter and 4 oz cream cheese, using pastry blender or fork, until mixture is crumbly (I personally just mixed this in with the mixer). Reserve 1 1/2 cups mixture for topping. Press remaining mixture in bottom of pan. Bake 12 minutes.

2.Meanwhile, in large bowl, beat 20 oz cream cheese, the sugar, flour, almond extract (or vanilla) and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.

3.Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over partially baked cookie base. Spoon pie filling evenly over cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle with reserved topping and almonds.

4.Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 30 minutes. Refrigerate about 2 hours or until chilled. For bars, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.

My First Attempt At Making Bread! Quick and Easy French Bread

My First Loaf!

Bread has always been an intimidating, scary area of baking for me; the concept of kneading is downright frightening. Since receiving my new KitchenAid Standing Mixer, I have decided to let go of my fears since this nifty kitchen gadget can do all of the kneading for me!

This recipe was great for beginners! Simple, direct, and yielding excellent results. My family is bread lovers; being Italian, bread is served at essentially every dinner. When my dad told me that this bread was excellent, I knew that I was on to something! The bread is perfect: not to light, and perfectly heavy. The interior is soft with a nice and perfectly crispy exterior. It pairs perfectly with some butter, margarine, or some olive oil!

This recipe is from Urban Strawberries! Thanks for the phenomenal bread!

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp. yeast
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. salt
5 1/2 cups flour
1 egg white (or 2 Tbsp olive oil)

Directions
Preheat oven to 450*F.

In a large bowl, mix warm water and yeast until yeast has dissolved.  Next add sugar, salt and flour. Knead ingredients together till it’s a soft uniform dough.

Now place a thin towel over the bowl with the dough in it and let it rise in a warm place for 15-30 minutes.

Seperate dough into two, and begin shaping dough into long loaves, and place on a baking sheet.

Make slits with a knife and brush with egg white or olive oil. If you are garnishing with herbs or cheese, do so now.

Cover the dough with the towel once more and let rise 5 minutes or so (the longer the better).

Remove towel, and bake for 12-15 minutes or until tops are brown and crusty.

BARK the Herald Angels Sing!

Ooey-gooey goodness

The holiday season can be a HECTIC time. Between all of the shopping, the wrapping, and the visiting, it is easy to not have enough time to bake!

For a college student who is broke, baking is a perfect, easy, and inexpensive way to give gifts to friends and loved ones. With all of the hustle and bustle of the season, sometimes all you need is a quick and easy treat to bring to a get-together. This, my friends, is that quick treat: let me present to you what I call Tree Bark. This is one of the first treats that I learned how to bake…EVER. I learned how to make it in high school, lost the recipe, and have been DYING to make it since. I found it online the other day under a different name: Toffee Crack…ers.  It is the easiest, simplest, and quickest dessert to make!

The best part of this treat, however, is the TASTE. The blend of salty and sweet is phenomenal; it will totally satisfy your sweet tooth and rid you of any craving thats you might be having. Oh, and did I mention that it only requires FOUR INGREDIENTS?? Yeah, I know, it does not get any better than this.

Ingredients:

40 Saltine Crackers

1 Cup Unsalted Butter

1 Cup Brown Sugar

2 Cups Semisweet Chocolate Chips

  1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet or a jelly roll pan with foil and spray with nonstick spray. Lay saltines across the sheet on top of the foil.
  2. Melt the sugar and butter in a saucepan until it reaches a boil. Lower the heat, and let the mixture simmer for 5-6 minutes, or until mixture thickens/ sugar is dissolved. Pour the mixture overtop the saltines, spreading it evenly.
  3. Bake for 5-8 minutes or until the toffee is bubbling.
  4.  Upon removal, pour the chocolate chips over the toffee. Once the chips start to melt, spread evenly. Let cool and/or refrigerate to harden the bark quicker.

Baked Chocolate Donuts (or Doughnuts?) and I’m Home!

Looking at this picture makes me salivate.

I am home! I have finished my last few hellish weeks of the semester. I don’t mean to brag, but, I GOT STRAIGHT A’s! There is only one way to celebrate this accomplishment…baking!

All of my stress hasn’t gone away, however. My NickyPoo is going to Italy for TEN DAYS. Not only am I SUPER jealous, but it is stressful knowing that I will not be able to speak with him. There IS something that I can do to make the time pass by (and I bet you all can guess what!). Essentially I am planning on baking (almost) every day that I am home; I hope that by the end of this break my family will not hate me for their weight gain!

There are times when I experience INTENSE cravings. And of course these cravings aren’t for healthy things such as fruits or vegetables. My  cravings always include chocolate. This past week, finals week, I have been hardcore craving chocolate glazed donuts. Nick and I walked to Dunkin Donuts on a Saturday night to fulfill my cravings and THEY HAD NO DONUTS. Dunkin Donuts without any donuts is like McDonalds without any hamburgers. I was PISSED to say the least.

I eventually was able to get a donut on campus, but my cravings still haven’t disappeared! Donuts are not the healthiest treat, yet baking them certainly cuts a lot of the calories. In order to make these goodies you will need to splurge and buy a donut pan (I got mine for around nine dollars).

For these donuts alone it was worth purchasing the pan. They are moist, chocolatey, soft and DELICIOUS. It is a nice change-up from the every-day cookies, brownies, and muffins. You can also add a variety of glazes (I tried one and it did not turn out well, so I am still on the hunt for the perfect glaze. I will keep ya posted!).

This recipe is from SquirrelBakes:

Donuts:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp butter, chilled
1/4 cup whole milk ( I used 2% since I did not have whole milk on hand)
1/4 cup plain yogurt (I only had low-fat plain yogurt and it turned out fine!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease donut pan, if you don’t have one use a muffin pan or mini-bundt pan.
  2.  In a large bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar; whisk till completely mixed. Using a pastry cutter or two forks cut the butter into the dry mixture till a course texture is formed.
  3.  In a small saucepan heat milk till simmering, set aside. In a medium bowl combine egg, yogurt, vanilla, and warmed milk; mix till incorporated. All at once add wet mixture into the dry ingredients and blend just until incorporated, do not over mix.
  4. Spoon mixture into donut pan and bake for 8-10 minutes or until a toothpick entered in center of a donut comes out clean. Remove and let cool in pan for 5 minutes; flip pan over and let donuts cool completely on metal rack.

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