Thursday, January 29, 2015

Fruit Berry Marshmallow Treats

Last week, I decided to make a special treat for our K-4 Bible Buddy students. What I had planned on making were fruit-flavored rice krispie treats. However, our local grocery store had sold out of the bargain bags of puffed rice, or rice krispies, cereal. This happens when you live in a rural town with one grocery store. After five minutes of looking over the bags and boxes of cereal, I decided to buy fruit berry crunch cereal because I knew it would look festive. Plus, most children life fruit and berry flavored cereal.

Tonight, the twenty-seven Bible Buddies unanimously declared the fruit berry marshmallow treats to be wonderful and delicious. High praise indeed from elementary school students! 

Making fruit berry marshmallow treats is easy. My go to marshmallow treat recipe is:
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, or margarine
  • 1-10 oz. bag miniature marshmallows
  • 6 cups of cereal 
Microwaving times are based on my 900 watt microwave.
  • Place butter in a large, microwaveable bowl.
  • Microwave for 15-20 seconds, or until melted
  • Add 10 oz. bag of miniature marshmallows to the melted butter
  • Stir until the marshmallows are coated with butter
  • Microwave the butter-coated marshmallows for 1 minute.
  • Remove bowl from microwave and stir until the melted marshmallows and the butter are combined. If necessary, microwave an additional 30 seconds.
  • Add six cups of cereal
  • Stir gently until the cereal is well coated with the melted marshmallow mixture. 
  • Spoon the cereal mixture into a buttered 8"x 8" square cake pan.
Warning: Before touching the marshmallow-coated cereal, butter your hands liberally and keep a tablespoon of butter handy to recoat your hands to prevent the melted marshmallows from sticking to you.
  • Press the cereal mixture into the pan with clean, well-buttered hands until the cereal is level and contains no gaps. I tried using wax paper, plastic wrap sprayed with pan coat, and other methods of pressing the cereal into the buttered pan. In my opinion, using well-buttered hands is best.
  • Let the pan set at room temperature for about an hour.
  • Turn the square of  marshmallow cereal mixture out onto a cutting board.
  • If the mixture is still soft, place the square back into the pan, bottom side up and let sit for another thirty or forty minutes.
  • Turn the cereal treat square back out onto the cutting board.
  • Slice the square in half. 
  • Slice each half in half. You will now have four long slices of cereal treat that is about two inches wide.
  • Slice each piece into fourths. You should now have sixteen squares that are about two inches by two inches. 
The Bible Buddy students loved these festive looking treats.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

SalleeSix - Six Ways to Frost Cupcakes

"MyCupcakeAddiction" with Elise Strachan is a YouTube channel that I love, love, love. Elise has helped me with my cake decorating, fondant making, and all things related to cake and cupcake decorating.

Today, I want to share a video with you that shows how to frost cupcakes in six different ways using a star piping tip. After all, it wouldn't be "Sallee's Six" if the number six wasn't involved! 

I used the 1M Swirl, the green cupcake with chocolate sprinkles in the above video, to decorate the cupcakes for my birthday. My goal was to make them look like white roses and I believe I succeeded.

Happy baking and decorating! 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Crock pot BBQ Baby Back Ribs in January

Tangy parsley potato salad and crockpot BBQ Baby Back Ribs. 

Saturday was a gorgeous day! Fifty-five degrees and sunshine is almost unheard of  in Missouri,during January. It was a perfect day to get some yard work done, get some sun, and eat barbecue. 

The unseasonably warm weather kicked in my desire to eat BBQ. 
Of course, it doesn't take much for me to start craving barbecued baby back ribs. My love of pork ribs slathered in honey hickory BBQ sauce has been well known for years, but I didn't discover crock pot BBQ ribs until last year when I saw a recipe over at The Country Cook. Now I can get my BBQ fix and get the yard work done at the same time. Sound good? I am happy to share my "secret recipe" with all of you.

The Country Cook's Crock pot BBQ Ribs                Click here for the recipe 

For marvelous, oven baked ribs that are finished in the broiler, try the recipe below.

Sallee's Simply Terrific BBQ Ribs                           Click here for the recipe

Parsley Potato Salad

  • 4  medium white potatoes
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. sweet pickle juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper, or black pepper
  • 2-3 teaspoons of dried parsley. I usually use 3 teaspoons.
  • 1/4 tsp. celery seed
  • 1/4 cup minced white, or yellow, onion
  • Peel and cut potatoes into bite size squares.
  • Place potatoes into a pot of water with water that just covers the potatoes.
  • Simmer potatoes until just fork tender, about 15-20 minutes. 
  • Drain the water off of the potatoes and set aside.
  • Mix mayonnaise, lemon juice, sweet pickle juice, salt, pepper, and parsley in a medium bowl. 
  • Add potatoes and minced onion. Gently stir until well mixed. (A minute or two)
  • Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of three hours. The flavors develop and blend in a wonderful way if you chill the potato salad for four to six hours.

1. After chilling, your potato salad may be too thick because the potatoes soaked up all the moisture. Add a tablespoon,or two of milk, and gently stir it into your potato salad to regain a creamy consistency. 

2. Another option is to use chicken broth.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

SalleeB's Extra Large Strawberry Chocolate Hearts

Here is another version of my strawberry chocolate crispy treat hearts. Instead of making three inch hearts, I divided the cereal mix between to eight inch, heart shaped, cake pans. My husband loves Cocoa Dyno-Bites and I use them to make these yummy, cereal treats. 
Generously butter two, eight inch heart pans and pack with strawberry chocolate crispy treat mix. Firmly pack the warm mix together to rid the treats of air pockets.
After letting the packed cereal mix cool for about an hour, gently loosen the edges of the heart. I used a butter knife blade.Then, turn the cake pan upside down on a prepared cake board. Gently tap the bottom of the pan. The treat should release from the buttered pan easily.
I used butter cream frosting and fondant to decorate this eight inch treat for my daughter's birthday.
I frosted the treat with tinted, butter cream frosting. Next, using a piping tip, I made a "squiggle" border, piped alternating dots, flowers, and the hubby's name. The decorating possibilities are endless!
Click here for the Strawberry Chocolate Crispy Treat recipe.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

SalleeShares: Top Chef's Final Five

SalleeShares on Season 12 Episode 10 of "Top Chef Boston"

Really? Ramen Noodles?
In my opinion, the opening quick fire challenge -  ramen noodles with food from a college student's dorm room - was proof that Top Chef is running out of ideas for interesting challenges. 

Seriously, making a dish from ramen noodles? What a joke!  Andy Cohen and his college roomie were on hand to judge. Unfortunately, Andy just wanted to talk about who was sleeping with each other, but Padma put the talk back on track.

A Julia Child Inspired French Dish
The challenge? Cook a classic French dish a la Julia Child and serve it to Jacques Pepin and a formidable table of chefs, restaurateurs, and judges with three hours to cook.

Undoubtedly,the contestants are in a figurative, pressure cooker at this phase of the show. Pressure caused several contestants to flub dishes that they would normally prepare and cook well, but the three hour deadline did not help any of the competing chefs. 

Mei Lin Wins
In the end, Mei won with her take on Duck a l'Orange with Chinese five spice. Mei was true to her cooking style and did a masterful job of incorporating the two styles, classic French and Chinese. She received praise from Jacques Pepin and that is high praise indeed!

Doug Adams Bottomed Out
Doug bottomed out of the competition by serving fairly raw, seared goose liver. I did learn that foie gras comes in a loaf. Poor timing and nerves can cause even the best chef to serve a poor dish.

Have any of you ever eaten foie gras? 
I come from a long line of Midwest farm folk and fried chicken liver is the extent of my personal knowledge of poultry liver.  Now where was I? Oh, back to the show.

Gregory Gourdet and Melissa King were also on the bottom. Despite a poor showing with their main dishes, deliciously prepared vegetables kept both chefs in the competition. 
Top Four
The top four are Melissa King, Gregory Gourdet, Mei Lin, and George Pagonis. However, one of the chefs who had to pack up their knives will be coming back for the finale from Last Chance Kitchen.

Last Chance Kitchen Cookout
Adam Harvey and Doug Adams are facing each other next.

A Look at Season 12
Click here to see an overview of each competing chef's performance on each episode of Top Chef Boston and Last Chance Kitchen.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Pickup Truck Cupcake Pull Apart Cake for a Second Birthday

Wow! This is my 200th published blog post! 

A Family Project

I am a happy Grammy! Getting to make a cupcake pull apart cake for my grandson Ashton was a lot of fun! 

Ashley, my daughter, talked to me in December about making Ashton's birthday cake. Ashley was trying to decide between a John Deere tractor cake, a pickup truck cake, or a pickup truck cupcake pull apart cake. 

I sent Ashley several cake pictures for her to choose from. Ultimately, she choose a pickup truck, cupcake pull apart cake. I had never made a pull apart cake with cupcakes. However, I knew it should be easier than the camouflaged teddy bear cake that I made for Ashton's first birthday. 

Details in Above Picture

  • To make black fondant, start with chocolate fondant, dye the fondant black with gel food coloring. I used Wilton gel food coloring.
  • Two inch black fondant circles were cut using a cookie cutter.
  • Letters and number were piped onto the two inch circles with a #5 decorating tip. 
  • The "bolt" details on the wheels, bumper, and door handle were made by taking the narrow end of the #5 frosting tip and poking it into rolled out gray fondant. 
  • Then gently remove the fondant from the tip with a toothpick.
  • The next step was to roll the small pieces of fondant into a ball, place the tiny balls of fondant where desired, and then gently flatten them into place with a fingertip.

Making a Cereal Treat Tire

  • Make one batch of cereal treats.
  •  Butter the inside of two - five inch bowls.
  • Pack each bowl with about two inches of cereal treat mix. Pack the remaining treat mix into a buttered eight or nine inch cake pan and reward yourself with cereal treats later.
  • Remove slightly cooled, molded rounds from the bowls and place wide end down.
  •  Form a dent into the narrow end to be the "wheel" later. The shape the round into a wheel shape. 
  • Each marshmallow cereal treat tire received fondant "treads" before covering the entire wheel with chocolate fondant that was tinted black with gel coloring.
  • I used a small, square cookie cutter to form the fondant "tread". Each black fondant square will yield three tire treads. First, cut a square of fondant out. Second, move the cutter diagonally and cut a chevron shape out of the fondant square. Repeat a third time. 

  • My cake board is 28 inches by 28 inches. I made it from heavy cardboard and covered it with aluminum foil.
  • I used prepackaged cake mixes to make the 29 chocolate and vanilla cupcakes that form the truck body.
  • Aluminum cupcake liners would have looked nice, but I was out of them. I decided to remove the white paper liners so the children did not have to contend with them.
  • Each cupcake was frosted and put into place on the cake board. I used a picture to help me with placement.
  • After all the frosted cupcakes were in place, I filled in the small gaps between the cupcakes with more frosting to create the cake top.
  • A final coat of frosting was smoothed onto the cake top using a long, narrow spatula.

The frosted pickup truck cake with rolled butter cream fondant details in place. 

Rolled buttercream fondant recipe            Click here

Buttercream frosting recipe                          Click here

Friday, January 2, 2015

No-Bake Triple Layer Pretzel Squares

My first blog post for 2015! 
My Inspiration
Bill just happened to come home while I was watching Trisha Yearwood cook on her show, Trisha's Southern Kitchen. Trisha was making her layered dessert, No-Bake Chocolate-Pretzel-Peanut Butter Squares. You already know what happened next. 

My sweetie says," Boy, that sure looks good! Honey, do you think you could make that?" I am chuckling as I write this because he didn't know all of the ingredients were sitting on the pantry shelves.  

Shopping Tip
In November and December, I always stock up on holiday sale ingredients such as: pretzel rods, mini-pretzels, semisweet chocolate chips, cream cheese, and a variety of instant pudding mixes. 

Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
In the original recipe, the chocolate layer is made with milk chocolate chips. However, I thought semi-sweet chocolate chips would give a slight hint of bitter to contrast with the crunchy, creamy, banana, and peanut butter flavors. 

A Banana Cream-Cream Cheese Layer
In my triple layer version of Trisha's dessert, the top layer is banana cream pudding and cream cheese. How decadent does that sound?

  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter, melted
  • 1/2 stick of butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups of pretzel rods, crushed plus about 1/4 cup to use for topping
  • 2 1/2 cup of confectioner's sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 -3.4 oz package of instant banana cream pudding
  • 1-8 oz. package cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 cup of undiluted, evaporated milk
  • 1/2 tsp. clear vanilla extract
  • Break pretzel rods into pieces and measure with a dry measuring cup. I used a mini-food chopper to crush the pretzels. Put the crushed pretzels into a medium bowl. 
  • Add 1 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, 1 1/2 sticks of melted butter, and 1 cup of creamy peanut butter.
  • Stir the pretzel mixture until it is blended well.
  • Put the pretzel mixture into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch casserole dish. You do not need to grease the dish because of the butter in the pretzel mixture.
  • Spread the pretzel mixture into an even layer in the bottom of the casserole dish. Do not worry if you think the mixture is too loose, or thin. The mixture will tighten up, or thicken, on it's own.
  • Next, put the semi-sweet chocolate chips and remaining 1/4 cup of peanut butter into a microwavable bowl.
  • Microwave the chocolate chips and peanut butter for 30 seconds, then stir. 
  • Microwave the chocolate chip mixture for another 30 seconds, then stir until the mixture is smooth and blended.
  • If the mixture will not become smooth after stirring 2-3 minutes, microwave for 10 seconds. The mixture should be nice and smooth this time.
  • Spread the chocolate peanut butter mixture evenly over the pretzel layer, using light pressure.
  • Cube the room temperature cream cheese and 1/2 stick butter into a medium size bowl. 
  • Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until it is blended and smooth.
  • Add the 1/2 tsp. clear vanilla, 1 cup undiluted, evaporated milk, and 1 cup of powdered sugar.
  • Beat the mixture until it is just blended, then add the package of instant banana cream pudding to the bowl.
  • Beat the cream cheese/pudding mixture on low until it is smooth and thick. 
  • Spread the cream cheese/pudding mixture evenly over the chocolate peanut butter layer.
I crushed a few more pretzels and sprinkled the crumbs as a topping.You can see this in the first and last pictures of this post. 
  • Cover the casserole dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. 

Bonham Taste Test

1. Bill and I each ate a piece of the triple layer pretzel squares after it had been refrigerated for an hour. 

2. We loved the crunchy, chocolate, peanut butter flavor, but the peanut butter in the pretzel layer and the chocolate layer overwhelmed the banana flavor

3. We ate another square the next day. The peanut butter flavor had mellowed, and the banana flavor was much stronger. 

Taste Test Conclusion
The Triple Layer Pretzel Squares need to be refrigerated overnight to let the banana cream flavor develop fully, and to let the peanut butter flavor mellow.
Adaptations for Next Time
I like peanut butter, but the amount called for in the original recipe was too much for me. This is just my personal preference. There is not anything wrong with the recipe. I am just adapting it to suit my own taste buds next time. 

1. Decrease peanut butter to one cup. Put 3/4 cup in the pretzel mixture and 1/4 cup with the chocolate chips. 

2. Sprinkle a little bit of sea salt on top of the chocolate/peanut butter layer. Again this is a personal preference. I wanted to taste a little more salt and I like sea salt and chocolate together.