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    Monday
    Apr092018

    Pineapple Sweet Tea

    I’m pretending like it’s summer! It’s still pretty cold and rainy here in Salt Lake, but I’m moving onto warmer weather, with or without Mother Nature. The truth is, Whole Foods had pineapples on sale the other day so I bought one. I’ve used the cores to make pineapple water in the past, but somehow, this time, I had the brilliant idea to try putting it in sweet tea. It did not disappoint!

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    • The core of a fresh pineapple 
    • 3 quart size tea bags (sometimes called family size)
    • 3 cups water
    • 3 cups ice
    • ⅓ cup sugar

    This recipe ended up being all 3s which makes it really easy to remember. First, bring your water just to a boil. I just do it in the microwave, but you could do it in a kettle or on the stovetop. Add your teabags and allow them to steep for 3 minutes. (see what I mean about the 3s?)

    While that’s doing its thing, put 3 cups of ice in a pitcher. After 3 minutes, the tea should be nice and dark. I should probably say, I like my tea quite strong. Not bitter, (that’s actually caused by steeping too long) just lots of tea flavor. If you like yours a bit less strong, go ahead and just use 2 teabags.

    To squeeze the water out of the teabags, I like to just place them on a spoon and then wrap the string around and squeeze. I usually do this twice on each one.

    Now, go ahead and pour in the sugar.

    Stir until it’s completely dissolved, then pour that hot tea over the waiting ice.

    Stir briskly until all of the ice has melted.

    Now for the pineapple. I like to use pineapple cores for stuff like this. That way they get some use before going in the trash. I’m sure fresh pineapple or even frozen would work just fine if you don’t want to process a whole pineapple. Although, it’s actually quite simple to do. I’ll show how to do it the next time I buy one.

    Whatever you decide to use, go ahead and just drop it into the tea. Into the fridge for 24 hours. Yeah, unfortunately this is not an immediate gratification kind of recipe, but you’ll be so happy it’s there tomorrow anyway.

    Remove the pineapple and now it can go in the trash.

    Pour the finished tea over a nice tall glass of ice.

    My usual go to for sweet tea is fresh squeezed lime, but I gotta be honest, I may never go back. This pineapple version is nothing short of amazing!

    In the winter, I like my tea hot and black with vanilla sugar, and sometimes cinnamon and milk, but in the summer, it’s cold, fruity and sweet. How do you like your tea?

     

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    Friday
    Mar302018

    Extra Special K Bars

    Growing up we had bars similar to these but they were made with Rice Krispies and they were called Scotcheroos. Well, a local bakery sells Special K bars, which, as the name implies, are made with Special K Cereal. Apparently, in some parts of the country, that’s how they’re always made. Who knew? Both varieties are basically a chewy, crispy, peanut butter bar, topped with chocolate, butterscotch topping. For me, that’s where they have always come up a bit short. Butterscotch chips have a very strong, artificial flavor and smell about them. So much so, that Hubby hates it when I buy one from the bakery because my whole kitchen will smell like them. Well, I have discovered a delicious alternative, and as usual, the homemade version beats out any I’ve had before.

    Here’s what you’ll need: 

    • 6 cups Special K Cereal
    • 1 cup peanut butter
    • 1 cup syrup
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 Tablespoons butter
    • ½ teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 ½ cups milk chocolate chips
    • 1 cup Ghirardelli Caramel chips 

    I realize the ingredient “syrup” sounds a bit vague. The thing is, I don’t use corn syrup. Ordinarily, I use brown rice syrup, but when I was at Target picking up ingredients, they didn’t have that, but did have Sugar in the Raw Cane Syrup. I’ve never seen that before, so I thought I’d give it a try. It worked wonderfully and tastes way better than corn syrup. That being said, if the only thing you can find is corn syrup, it will work.

    First up, measure your cereal into a really big bowl and set it aside. (keep in mind, you’ll need plenty of room for stirring)

    Next, put the sugar, syrup, and butter into a pan over medium low heat.

    Here’s the secret to bars that are deliciously soft and chewy... don’t overcook the syrup. When I was researching recipes, the most common question I came across was, “Why are my bars always hard?” I’ve seen some recipes that say to boil the mixture for 3-5 minutes… nope. That’s just asking for bars you’ll break your teeth on. Basically, you want the sugar to be dissolved, and it’s ok if it just barely starts to bubble. If you're having trouble getting all of the sugar to dissolve without it boiling, add 1-2 tablespoons of water. That way you can cook it longer and/or bring it to a boil without overcooking it. 

    Turn off the heat and add the peanut butter. Mine was a new bottle that hadn’t yet been refrigerated so it was of pouring consistency, which made for easy measuring, but not a very pretty picture.

    Add the vanilla and stir until everything is incorporated.

    Pour that over your waiting cereal.

    Stir to coat all of the cereal. Keeping it all in the bowl, rather than all over the bar and floor, will be the hardest part. Just be patient and eventually it will all cooperate.

    Glop it into a parchment lined 9x13 pan. Yes, glop is the appropriate term for that.

    Press it into the pan, slowly working it toward the edges. If it’s cool enough, you can use your hands. Otherwise, a spatula will work fine, it will just take a little longer.

    Now, onto the topping. Remember how I said I don’t care for butterscotch chips? Well, it turns out, Ghirardelli has started making caramel flavored chips, and they are delicious!

    Place 1 cup of those and 1 ½ cups of milk chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl.

    Nuke 30 seconds, stir, 30 seconds, stir, 30 seconds, stir… until it’s all melted and smooth.

    Pour that over the bars. (Is it just me, or is there something seriously delectable about flowing chocolate?)

    Spread that over the top, getting all the way to the corners. Then, another hard part, walk away and leave it to cool and set up. It will probably need a good 3 hours. You can speed it up by putting it in the fridge, but they’re better served at room temperature.

    When they’re ready, go ahead and cut them into whatever size bars you want. I recommend small because I guarantee you’ll be coming back for a second, regardless of the size. As you can see, cutting is not my strong suit. Having two different sizes was done purposely because I needed some big ones for pictures, but not having one straight line in the bunch, well, that’s just how my brain works. I guess I’ll have to blame it on cooking while intoxicated again.

    Regardless, they taste amazing! They are perfectly chewy, peanut buttery, and sweet, with a subtle underlying caramel flavor. And best of all, no artificial, butterscotch weirdness.

    What’s your favorite childhood treat?

     

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