Showing posts with label back-to-school. Show all posts
Showing posts with label back-to-school. Show all posts

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Back-to-School: Fancy Krispie Treats

When the kitchen decided to do a back-to-school week, my first impulse was panic.  I don't have kids, and "back to school" for me is about the start of new classes and a huge rush of work.  Back to school is when I rely on take-out, not when I work magic in the kitchen.

But then I started thinking about my own youth and all the food memories associated with school starting.  I usually ate lunch in the cafeteria.  The cafeteria was a source of perpetual conflict, since they made you drink milk and I HATED milk . . . and stare-offs between me and the cafeteria monitor often ended with me in tears.  I got a break from the cafeteria, though, when we'd go on field trips to places like the Toledo Zoo, and the Detroit Institute of Art, and Greenfield Village.  On field trip days, we'd all load into a line of yellow school buses and head off onto the interstate.

(In retrospect, I cannot imagine how the teachers survived, taking the entire third grade on school buses and corralling us in public for a full day.)

Wendy/Annie - 3rd Grade
On those magical outings, far from the cafeteria, we'd have sack lunch.  Oh, sack lunch!  Bologna sandwiches on white bread with mustard.  A stack of Pringles.  An apple.  A can of soda wrapped in foil to keep it cold.  And dessert.

Sometimes dessert meant a snack cake . . . a Twinkie or a Little Debbie oatmeal cream pie.  But sometimes it meant my mom would make my absolute favorite treat:  her special rice krispie treats!

Krispie treats are, by definition, delicious.  How can you go wrong with sugar, butter, and crunch?  But my mom took genius to a whole new level.  First, she added peanut butter to the krispie mix.  It added that hint of salt that kicks all desserts up a notch.  And then she poured a melted mixture of chocolate and butterscotch chips over the top.  Heaven.

Oh, wow.  After half a day sitting in a warm bus, the chocolate topping would get a little soft and melty, and the whole thing was a block of ooey-chewy wonder.

So thank you to all the teachers who faced down the terror of leaving school grounds and opening up a whole wide world to us, even though I'm sure we were little hellions.  And thank you to my mom, for keeping the Coke cold and never forgetting to include dessert in my sack lunch.

Fancy Krispie Treats

3 Tbs. margarine or butter
7 oz. jar marshmallow fluff
1/2 c. peanut butter
6 c. puffed rice cereal

1 c. butterscotch chips
1 c. chocolate chips

Grease a 9 x 13 pan and line it with parchment or wax paper; grease the paper, too.

Place margarine or butter in a large saucepan over medium low heat until melted.  Add marshmallow fluff and stir until combined.  Add peanut butter and stir until combined.  Remove from heat and stir in the cereal until the cereal is coated with the marshmallow combination.  Turn into the greased pan and flatten/compress until the cereal is a fairly uniform thickness in the pan.

Allow to cool/harden.

Melt the chocolate and butterscotch chips in a bowl set over barely simmering water.  Spread the chocolate mixture over the treat and allow to cool, harden.

Use the wax/parchment paper to lift the treats from the pan.  Cut with a sharp knife and serve!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tomato Gorgonzola Soup

We have a WINNER for this week’s Mystery Lovers Kitchen contest! And that winner’s name will be announced very soon!!

Happy Fall (sort of)

I’m very excited to be the first person to post in September. I know it isn’t technically Fall yet, but here in the Chicago area the temperatures have been ridiculously low, and with the kids back at school it’s feeling very Autumn-like to me. I’ve always loved this time of year.

I was one of those oddballs who was excited about each new school year. I couldn’t wait to browse through the textbooks (can you say “nerd”?) and wonder about what projects might be planned for that year. All through grammar, high school, and college I always, always enjoyed the beginning of school and was thrilled by the possibilities it held. To this day, a crisp fall day brings back all those feelings, that great sense of possibility. Good thing, because I'm about to embark on a new manuscript :-)

Okay, back to the recipe and today’s “food” posting…

Fall means soup to me. Yum. And, if you remember, I was hoping to recreate two appetizers from a wonderful downtown Chicago dinner. (Update – the mushroom appetizer recipe I posted a week ago, though unsuccessful atop croissants, was *exceptional* when used as a sauce over a beef roast at dinner the next evening. I will use this recipe over and over. It’s a keeper!) You may also recall that my oven died. It’s now fixed (hooray!), but I didn’t need it to create the tomato-gorgonzola soup recipe I’m about to share.

I have to admit, my tomato-gorgonzola is not nearly as good as the one at Marche restaurant. I’m going to have to tweak it, but for now, here are my two offerings:
Tomato Gorgonzola Soup

Option #1 – the more intricate version

3 T olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
9 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 leaves fresh basil, chopped
1 c heavy cream
1/3 lb. gorgonzola cheese
2 T fresh chives, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, fry onions in olive oil until soft, not brown. Add in tomatoes and basil and simmer for about 40 minutes, until the mixture is more soup than solid. Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until all the chunks are gone. Return mixture to the pot, add cream, and turn heat to low.

Add cheese to the pot, a little at a time. Simmer the soup for about another 30 minutes until the cheese is fully blended into the mixture.

Serve hot, garnished with chopped chives.

Option #2 – the much, much easier version

1 can of Campbell’s Tomato Bisque (Hey, my fictional president’s name is Harrison Campbell, so I figured, What the heck! :::grin:::)
1 soup can full of heavy cream
2 leaves fresh basil, chopped
1 T fresh chives, chopped
1/8 lb gorgonzola cheese

Heat soup according to package directions, using cream instead of water. Simmer, then add basil and gorgonzola. Heat through until gorgonzola is well blended. Serve, garnished with fresh chives.

You know that the White House Chef often arranges for taste-tests for the First Lady before official functions, right? Well, I decided to hold my own taste-test here at home with my two tomato soup versions. The lighter colored one is the version made with fresh tomatoes. The darker one is Campbell’s based.

We tried them side-by-side and no one in the family knew which was which except me.

The hands down winner?

The fresh-tomato version was tasty, but a little light on body. Too soupy and thin. I think I need to try this again (much later. We’re tomato-souped out right about now), using more tomatoes and allowing them to stew much longer.

The gorgonzola didn’t blend with either version as easily as I expected. Maybe Avery can suggest a better cheese to use that might deliver the flavor of gorgonzola, but melt at a lower temperature? In either case, this was a great experiment. We enjoyed both versions, and I’m happy about the attempt.

If you have any great soup recipes, please be sure to send them my way. You can always reach me via my website, or e-mail me at JulieHyzy (at) aol. (dot) com.

Hope you enjoy!

Julie Hyzy’s White House Chef Mystery series features State of the Onion, Hail to the Chef, and Eggsecutive Orders (coming in January). All from Berkley Prime Crime.

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