The One and Only: Scotcharoos

.  Oh hey.  Yes, I'm alive.  Barely.

Telling from the lack of posts the last couple of weeks, you can most likely guess that the CWS and Tasty Bites kept both Robbie and I fairly busy.  Fairly may be an understatement though.

But regardless, the crazy crowds, too many cheese curds, and ample family time are things that I wouldn't have traded for anything.  It was a crazy time but I think we all had too much fun.  And you can bet I'd do it all over again!  Pictures to come...

Unfortunately I had to miss the last couple of Foamer softball games [the cheese curd trailer was a-callin'!] and I'm also missing tonight's game because Robbie and I are heading to the Olympic Swim Trials here in Omaha.  I wish I could say I was a bit sad I'm missing out on softball, but Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte won't wait around.  Sorry, Foamers!

But I did want to leave you with the treat I made for the last softball game I went to and let me tell you.  I'm proud.   A little addition to this classic, nostalgic goodie is what takes it over the edge.  And fortunate for you, I'm sharing ☺

I actually got this recipe from my softball BFF's mom, who used to make these Scotcharoo Bars every once in a while for weekend games.  And until I got the recipe, I never could quite put my finger on what made these things so dang addicting.

You may have heard these bars called many things: Special K Bars, Rice Krispy Treats, etc.  But in the end, they're all one in the same.  Except for this recipe.  And being involed in sports my entire life, you can bet I've had my fair share of different versions of Rice Krispy Treats.  And this one is easily, most definitely, my absolute favorite.  And in the spirit of getting you to make these simple bars, I won't fill you in on the secret ingredient.  Looks like you'll have to make them for yourself, my dears!  .

1 c. light corn syrup
1 c. sugar
1 c. creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 c. rice crispy cereal
2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
2 c. butterscotch chips

  1. Spray 13x9-inch pan with non stick cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat together light corn syrup and sugar until boiling.  Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla extract.
  3. Stir in rice crispy cereal and then gently pat into prepared pan (the harder you press, the thinner your bars will be).  
  4. In a microwave safe bowl, melt together chocolate and butterscotch chips and stir until smooth.  Evenly spread mixture over the top of the rice crispy bars.  Let cool until topping is set.  
Yield: 2 dozen bars

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TWD Baking with Julia: French Strawberry Cake

.  It's time for Dorie!  No, not the cartoon.  Dorie Greenspan.  Or Tuesdays with Dorie to be more specific.

This month, I decided to try out the French Strawberry Cake.  First, because it's fruity.  And Summer.  And those two things go hand in hand, right?  So my selection seemed fitting.

As you [may] know, things have been crazy around our neck of the woods for the past week and will continue to be madness for the next week until the CWS is over, so I had to strategically plan out how I was going to get this here cake finished.  I decided to make the cake one day, freeze it, and assemble the following weekend when all of our guests would be in town.  And I will assure you, breaking up recipes really does make it easier.  Regardless that this cake is rather simple, making the elements on different days definitely cut down on time. Hooray!

So what's there to say about this treat?  Well...

It was a bit of a botch.  To no fault of the recipe, but I've come to the conclusion that I just didn't make the cake right.  The cream and strawberries were absolutely wonderful, I could have eaten those two together all night long [which I may or may not have done] but that dang cake.  Not quite sure what happened but it turned out extremely dense and eggy tasting...basically a mess.  Robbie was so bold to say that it was one of the worst things to come out of the oven.  Ha!  Oops.

I would actually give this recipe a second go around though because it must have had something to do with the way I mixed the cake batter.  I'm assuming I wasn't careful enough.  And the not so pleasant cake may have had something to do with the fact that I froze the cake, thawed it thinking I was making it one day, and then threw back in the fridge because I didn't have time.  Hmm... I also struggled with actually cutting the cake into three layers, so I opted for two.  Blah!  All in all, the cake turned out not so pretty.

Oh well.  Failures make you better, right?!  Well, I hope so.  Next time around, Dorie!

But head on over to our hosts for this month, Sophia's Sweets and Think, Love, Sleep, Dine, for the French Strawberry Cake recipe!  .

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Secret Recipe Club: Bacon, Egg and Toast Cups

.  Dang.  It's been a loooong time since I've had the privilege to do an SRC post.  Anyone notice that I didn't have one during May?  Well, that was completely my fault.  For some reason, I felt like filling out the June participation form but forgot to fill out May!  So unfortunately I had to sit out for the month.  I learned my lesson though.

But for my "debut" back, Angela graciously paired me up with the cutest little blog: Christine's Kitchen Chronicles.  From what I read of Christine, she's actually quite similar to me!  A 20-something cooking and baking her heart away.  Well, minus the cooking for me.  We all know I have barely scratched the surface of the cooking world.  Maybe that'll come some day.

The majority of Christine's recipes are savory, which actually worked out perfectly for me this month.  Remember the craziness of the CWS, Tasty Bites, and friends and family I mentioned?  Well, it has been crazy and I was in desperate need of some quick snacks and breakfast items [everyone works at the trailer 'till the wee hours of the night, hence, breakfast is the only meal we'd possibly eat at my house].  Some of my favorites from Chrinstine's blog included Cheesy Chili Mac,  Oven-baked Sweet Potato Chips, and Baked Green Bean Fries.  but Christine must have known I was coming because she had the most wonderful breakfast recipe waiting for me!

Bacon, Egg and Toast Cups.  Oh, and cheese.  Sound delish?  Well it is!  And beyond simple.  A couple prep steps and you have breakfast in a cup in no time flat.  Fo' reals.

I can't really explain how timely this recipe was, what with everyone bustling in and out of the house to work at the trailer and no one really having time to think about any meals.  So thank the good Lord for this one.  And Christine ☺  I think everyone left the table this last Sunday morning pleasantly full and ready to sell some cheese curds!  .

My Notes:
  • Since we had a number of people to feed, I doubled Christine's recipe, which is reflected below in the ingredients list.  However, most everything is a 1:1 to ratio, so you can adjust the recipe to fit whatever crowd you're feeding.
  • Feel free to use whichever type of bread, meat and cheese you like.  I think a nice ham and swiss would be scrumptious, but what possibilities are endless!
Adapted from Christine's Kitchen Chronicles

12 slices bread (your choice)
12 slices bacon
 1 dozen eggs
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and Pepper

  1. Heat oven to 400°F.  Spray a muffin pan with non stick cooking spray; set aside.
  2. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter or wide-mouthed glass, cut out 12 circles of bread and gently press into pan.
  3. Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat.  Cook bacon until partially cooked but still pliable (about 3 minutes).
  4. Shape bacon strips into the the pan, and fill with 1 tablespoon of shredded cheese.  Bake 5 minutes, allowing the bacon to toast a bit more.  Remove from oven.
  5. Crack an egg into each cup and sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste.  Bake an additional 8 to 10 minutes or until the egg whites begin to set (the yolk should be creamy but continue to cook if you desire a more firm egg yolk).  
  6. Use a spoon to pop out toast cups and serve warm.
Yield: 1 dozen toast cups

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The Tasty Bites Debut

.  Alright.  It's finally time for the big reveal.

The big cheesey reveal.  No pun intended.

Remember how I kind of apologized for my lack of posts?  One of the reasons is simply because I've been busy with a number of things.  And one of those things is what we're going to talk about.  Right.  About.  Now.

Tasty Bites.

If you know me or my family whatsoever, you've most likely heard this phrase buzzing around.  Or if you're friends with my dad on Facebook, you've seen it in your newsfeed just about every other post.  Just kidding, dad.  Kind of.

Well about one year ago, my dad decided to start a little venture that we know today as Tasty Bites.  The concept is quite simple.  Sell as many cheese curds as humanly possible ☺

Cheese curds?!  It seems that the only people who actually know what I'm ever talking about when I mention these little heavenly fried bites of cheese are people from either Minnesota or Wisconsin.  Shocker.

But that's really what they are.  Chewy bites of gloriously fried cheese.  Served with a side of some of the best homemade Ranch your taste buds will ever encounter.  And I know Ranch.  I was a professional Ranch dipper in my younger years, so I know what I'm saying.  Baaa-lieve me!

And Tasty Bites is not only selling one type of cheese curd...but two!  Of course, we'll have the classic cheese curd.  But my dad also picked out [my personal favorite]: the jalapeno cheese curd.  Uh, yum.

I guess it's probably important to fill you in on exactly where Tasty Bites will be selling these aforementioneed cheese curds that I can't rave enough about, huh?  Well, you probably guessed it.  The upcoming College World Series (CWS) ring a bell to anyone?  If you're reading this blog, I sure hope so.

Tasty Bites will be located [for you local Omaha-ers] at the Old Mattress Factory, which is basically right next to the field.  So you really have no excuse to not drop on by and say hi.  At the very least you'll see some friendly faces, as both friends and family have graciously offered to help out with Tasty Bites debut event so it's sure to be great time, to say the very least.

Oh and guess what?!  My dad has kindly offered to let me sell some baked goodies from his trailer as well.  To appeal to the masses, we opted for various types of cookies.  But I guess you'll have to stop by our corner of fun to find out which types we chose.  They're good ones, is all I'll say.

Anywho.  That's the big news!  As you can probably guess, the next week and a half will be a complete whirlwind, in addition to work, puppy-sitting, and a little 5K.  But I can't wait to spend it with my family and friends.

Blessed ☺  .

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Lemon Blueberry Bread Pudding

.  I'm sorry.

Not sure if you've noticed, but my posts have been lacking as of late.  Not quite sure why but I guess I haven't felt like it.  I've been a bit busy with work, our recent trip to LaLa Land, and I think I've been mentally preparing for the month of June, which will be one crazy time.  But there will be more about that later this week.

But what I will let you in on is that our month of June will involve a number of out of town visitors.  And.  I.  Can't.  Wait.

If you haven't heard, I live for entertaining.  Granted, I'm not the best at it.  But I love planning meals and getting to watch people enjoy the things I have for them.  One of those particular reasons I can't get enough of baking, actually.  But anywho, the fact that we'll be having some guests is what brings me to this post: Lemon Blueberry Bread Pudding.  Odds are my visitors will be shoveling this in their face sometime in the next couple of weeks...

First, it's ridiculously easy.  Like most bread puddings I would say.  Second, stupid good.  Yes, 'stupid' in this context is a good thing.  A great thing.  There's a few things that make this bread pudding extra special, too.  Let me fill you in: local, luscious blueberries bursting in every bite, a slightly crunchy sugary topping, and of course, bready goodness bringing it all together with the help of a thick, creamy custard.  Doesn't get much better, my dear friends.  

I'll admit, I'm a bit bias when it comes to any bread pudding.  I'm like my mama and can't get enough of this breakfast/dessert.  It's just irresistible.  And when I get a quality one, it's all over.  I may or may not have eaten the majority of this goodness-in-a-pan all by myself.  You'll never know though...

Now that you have this on your baking list [yep, you do], make sure to keep an eye on LSM later this week to hear about the big news!  Especially you Omaha'ers ;)  .

My Notes:
  • When placing the blueberries in the pan, you'll have excess flour left over in the bowl.  Make sure to leave it out of the bread pudding, the flour is only to keep the blueberries from sinking and you don't need the excess.
  • This time around I used a nine-grain loaf from Great Harvest Bread Company.  I personally  liked it and it made me feel a bit better knowing I was at least eating a healthier bread.  But some found that the graininess of the bread didn't work for them, so I would definitely go with a great challah or brioche.  Nom, nom, nom!

Adapted from Heirloom Baking

Bread Pudding:
3 c. blueberries
2 tbsp. all purpose flour
6 tbsp. butter, melted
2 c. milk
1 c. heavy whipping cream
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. nutmeg
1-1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
3/4 tsp. lemon extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 eggs, beaten
1 round loaf bread (e.g., challah, nine grain, brioche), cut into 1-inch squares

Sugar Topping:
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1/3 c. sugar

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.  Spray 13x9-inch pan with non stick cooking spray; set aside.
  2. Toss blueberries and flour together in a small bowl.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine butter, milk, heavy whipping cream, salt, nutmeg, sugar, lemon zest, lemon extract, and vanilla extract.  Add eggs and beat to combine.  
  4. Place half of bread pieces evenly into prepared pan.  Pour half of custard over bread and sprinkle with half of blueberries.  Add remaining bread pieces, then custard and blueberries.  Cover bread pudding loosely with plastic wrap and gently press down to ensure the custard has moistened all of the bread.  Let stand 15 minutes.  Remove plastic wrap and brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.
  5. Cover pan with foil.  Bake 30 minutes .  Remove foil and bake an additional 45 minutes or until pudding is bubbling, topping has caramelized, and a toothpick inserted in center comes out relatively clean.  Allow to cool 1 hour before serving.
Yield: 16 servings

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Creighton Baseball in...Hollywood?

.  Yep, that's right!  You recall that Robbie and I made the trip to L.A. this last weekend to cheer on the good ol' Creighton Baseball team in the UCLA Regional, right?  Well if you didn't, we did.  And it was the bomb.com.

Okay, kind of.

Not gonna lie, Robbie and I both agreed L.A. was a bit underwhelming.  You don't exactly get that glamourous feeling Hollywood seems to have inaccurately portrayed in every movie.  Don't get me wrong, we both had an absolute blast wandering through Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Santa Monica, and Manhattan/Hermosa Beach.  To say the least, it was extremely interesting!  But I don't know, I can't really pin point what it was that didn't strike our fancy.  Oh well, to each his own!

And of course, we can't forget about the true reason for our venture.  Baseball!  The Creighton team made an amazing post-season run, winning the MVC tourney and then beating both New Mexico and San Diego to make it to the Regional Championship against UCLA [who's #2 in the country, I might add].  Needless to say, Creighton lost in the championship, but it was ridiculously fun to watch them plow through some teams that most likely weren't expecting it.  I would say you can go ahead and pencil in UCLA to the CWS.  Just our opinion though.

Anywho, on to some pictures!  I don't have TOO many but I picked some that would give you a good feel for our trip.  Please note that Robbie may have smiled in one picture.  That may be stretching it though...

On our way to L.A.!

Cha Cha Chickens, easily one of the best meals we had!  I had the Cubano on the bottom and Robbie had Coconut Fried Chicken.  

Santa Monica Pier.

Beachin' it.

Stumbled upon a winner of the 2011 Cupcake Wars!
Ridiculously gorgeous houses on Manhattan Beach.

Championship game!

Bluejay fans!

Robbie is apparently allergic to the sun ;)

Strolled through UCLA's campus on our last day.  Very impressive.

That's all folks!  .

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