Baking

Pintertest #8: Raspberry Pinwheel Pastries

These were really fun to make and eat, but unfortunately, they didn’t turn out as pretty as the Pinterest version. I believe that if you add in a couple additional steps, these would turn out pretty close. And they’d also be really cute to make for Valentine’s Day which is coming up on us quick.

 

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Not very pretty, but still fun to make and very yummy!

 

I’ve been wanting to use pastry dough for some time now, so shout-out to Yvette for picking this recipe! (You can find the original recipe from Just a Taste here.) Keep in mind that you will need to thaw your dough for 20-30 minutes at room temperature so that it’s soft but still cold.

In a nutshell, you’ll cut your two pastry sheets into four squares each and lay them on greased baking sheets. (The original recipe says to use wax paper, but I never seem to have any luck with the wax paper not sticking to everything.)

 

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These are really messy because I had to use frozen raspberries. Don’t use frozen raspberries.

 

Then you’ll mix up your cream cheese with sugar and lemon juice (make sure these are all around room temperature), place a spoonful of cream cheese and then raspberry jam in the center of your pastry squares, and plop some fresh raspberries on top. Next, you make cuts in the dough so that you can fold it up and make it look like a pinwheel.

 

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Fold ’em up and stick a toothpick in the center to hold it together.

 

I found that there was a lot of leftover cream cheese, which really bothered me because I had no idea what to do with it. I ended up eating it straight up and it tasted just like my Lemonade Freezer Pie. I imagine if you had some bagels, it’d go great on them as well. Down below, I’ve tweaked the recipe to avoid this problem. On the topic of leftovers, if you’ve got some leftover raspberries and lemon juice, my Lemon Raspberry Mug Cake can help take care of that.

These are best eaten the day you make them, but they can be refrigerated in an airtight container for a few days. I found that you can heat them back up if you pop them in the toaster oven, and they’re even still crispy and flaky! They’re great for both breakfast and dessert!

 

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In an attempt to use all the cream cheese, I probably put too much on the pastries, which may have been a factor in them not holding together.

 

One note of caution: do not use frozen raspberries. Thawed, previously frozen raspberries just make a huge mushy, juicy mess and look more like jam than raspberries. The store was cleaned out of fresh ones and I thought the frozen would be okay, but I was wrong. Anyway, hopefully with that note and the following tips, yours will come out looking much prettier than mine.

Raspberry Pinwheel Pastries

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. cream cheese (1/2 package, room temperature)
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 sheets puff pastry (17.3 oz package)
  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 egg

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease up a couple of baking sheets.
  2. If your pastry dough is significantly smaller than 10″ square, roll it out until it’s pretty close. The dough I used was already about 9 1/2″ square, so I didn’t bother rolling it out. Then, cut your dough into four equal squares and place on the baking sheets so that they’re not touching. Prick them several times with a fork.
  3. With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese with the sugar, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla until smooth. Place about 1 tablespoon of cream cheese into the center of each square, forming a small circle. Next, place a tablespoon of jam on top of that. Place about four raspberries on top of the jam.
  4. Make cuts in the dough from the edge of the cream cheese circle to each corner. Whisk the egg with 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. Brush around the edges of each square.
  5. Take one corner slice and fold it on top of the raspberries. Brush the top of it with egg wash to help it stick better. Repeat for the other three corners, and brush the top of the pinwheel with egg wash. Take a toothpick and stab it through the center of the pinwheel to ensure it doesn’t come apart while baking. (The original recipe does not use toothpicks, but I think they would be very helpful.) Repeat for the remaining seven pastries.
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown and puffy, rotating once halfway through.

(Find the original recipe here.)

Books and Beverages

Books and Beverages (#15)

Here are the books I’ve read and the beverages I’ve sipped while reading them over the past few months. A couple of them are continuations of series, and one is a self-help book. The beverages this month happen to be herbal teas, which I imagine I’ll still be drinking until the snow melts in April.

Books

18966806Morning Star by Pierce Brown

If you haven’t read the Red Rising trilogy yet, you’re missing out on some great stuff. Brown does a fantastic job combining space exploration and sci-fi with dystopia and action. And the best part is that the books don’t lose quality the further you get in the series. Morning Star offers more world-building and we get to see what life is like for some of the other colors besides Red and Gold. There is plenty of action and the pace doesn’t slow down for too long a time. Just like the previous two books, this one has several twists. Ofttimes, the reader doesn’t even know what the characters are planning, which adds suspense and mystery. Basically, it’s got a little bit of everything, including romance.

6662976Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny by Suze Orman

I read this book mostly because it was lying around the house and I needed something to read while I waited for my books on hold to arrive at the library. I have seen a few episodes of the Suze Orman Show, and in the book, she reminds us of some of her big dos and don’ts. Given that, there are some points Orman brings up in the book that I don’t think I’ve heard a lot on her show. I thought she had some interesting things to say about managing money and I think they’re good things to ponder over. You probably won’t agree with everything she says (I know I didn’t) but it’s good to see other ways of doing things nonetheless.

8115818The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

This book started out really slow. It didn’t pick up until about a third of the way through. But once the action got rolling, it was great! Basically, Lisbeth Salander has been connected to three murders and the police believe she is their prime suspect and also a dangerous lunatic. However, Mikael  Blomkvist can’t believe that she would murder anyone without a good reason, and knows she isn’t a madman. That starts Blomkvist on his own investigation, along with the fact that one of the murders is connected to Millennium magazine. A mystery man named Zala might be the key to the whole thing, but there are no records of him. The second installment of the Millenium series delves more into Salander’s life and background, and there is plenty of action and mystery once things start going.

Beverages

Celestial Seasonings Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland Tea

I love when holiday teas come out! This was a flavor I had never seen before, but it sounded good enough so I thought I’d give it a try. It tastes the same as the name, although I might argue there’s more vanilla in it. The box says it’s got cranberry and vanilla flavor along with rooibos, hibiscus, and cinnamon. I wish they had it year-round!

Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend Herbal Tea

When I saw this in the Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer circular, I knew I needed it. Unfortunately, they were all out the day I went, but they would have more in stock on Friday–Black Friday. Thankfully, Trader Joe’s isn’t insane on Black Friday, so I was able to get some. Taken from the box, it’s “a blend of cinnamon, ginger, hibiscus, chamomile, roasted chicory, orange peel, and apple flavor.” Basically, a steaming hot cup of fall-flavored goodness. I hope they have it next year!

Baking

Salsa Pork Chops

 

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Salsa pork chop served with yellow rice and steamed broccoli.

 

I told you I was going to start branching out into savory baked foods, and here you go! Lately, I’ve been getting tired of my plain garlic pan-seared pork chops and I wanted to spice things up a little (pun intended). Several years ago my brother made these pork chops baked in salsa and topped with cheese, and I thought that would be a great way to add flavor and keep in the moisture.

The recipe I’m about to share makes 1-2 servings. Since I’m cooking only for myself these days, I really don’t want to cook 3-4 chops and have to eat that for the next two weeks. And freezing/reheating pre-cooked pork chops doesn’t sound like a great idea to me. (See above about moisture.) If you’ve ever done that, though, let me know if it works!

 

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Always check your meats for doneness! Go here for tips on cooking pork.

 

Anyway, enough of my rambling. I found this recipe very yummy. I used a medium salsa and a Mexican cheese blend and it was perfect, but feel free to use whatever salsa and cheese that make your taste buds happy. I also made some yellow rice for a side and it went very well with the salsa. Spanish rice or that cilantro lime rice from Chipotle would probably pair nicely as well. Overall, it was a delicious meal and I plan on making it again!

Salsa Pork Chops

Ingredients

(Makes 1 pork chop. Scale it up if you desire more than one.)

  • 1 thick boneless, skinless pork chop
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/4 shredded cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and heat up the cooking oil in a frying pan. (If you have an oven-safe pan, use that.)
  2. Once the pan is hot, carefully place the pork chop in the oil. Sear for about a minute on all sides, including around the edges. Sprinkle each side with a little salt and pepper for flavor. Remove from heat.
  3. Place your pork chop in an oven-safe dish (or keep it in your pan if it’s oven-safe). Pour the salsa on top and place in the oven for 30-40 minutes. Check for doneness with a meat thermometer. (145°F for medium-rare or 160°F for medium.)
  4. Once it’s done, sprinkle the cheese on top and put it back in the oven for 1-2 minutes to melt. (This won’t make a huge difference to the doneness of the pork.)
  5. Let the pork chop rest before serving.

 

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Cheesy salsa goodness!

 

Bonus Blog · Books and Beverages

More Gadgets for Your Books and Beverages!

I did another gadget post like this one over a year ago, and in that time I’ve discovered a few more awesome things that I think book and beverage lovers will enjoy as much as I do.

Tea and Books Mug

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I found this mug from the Etsy shop, Lenny Mud. They also have a website. It looks like this mug isn’t available anymore, but they do have another really cute reading mug.

This mug is perfect for Books and Beverages and I had to have it. There are so many cute details included on the mug like it’s an actual book. The handle looks like pages and the opposite side looks like a spine. It’s so adorable!

Electric Kettle / Hot Pot

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When I’m too lazy to venture to the kitchen, or when I don’t want to wake everyone up with a kettle whistling, my electric kettle comes to the rescue. When I was living in the dorms I also used it to cook box mac and cheese and soup, so it’s really a versatile little device.

Amazon has a similar one here. (Gotta love Amazon!)

Kindle

I bought myself a Kindle before I went to Japan. I thought I would never use an e-reader, but I’m really glad I got my Kindle. It was so handy to have on the long airplane rides to and from Japan, and it was also great on the trains. It’s really lightweight and I could check out e-books from the library so that I didn’t have to buy or bring any books on the trip. My Kindle isn’t backlit, so it was a good thing I had my handy dandy reading light.

Additionally, since I moved I don’t have access to as nice of a library system, but I can still get e-books from it. Although nothing beats a physical book with pages, the Kindle sure has its advantages.

Baking · Uncategorized

Brownie Bit Cookies

My roommate was about to throw away some overbaked brownie edges when I told her that I might be able to use them. After all, I hate seeing food go to waste. That’s how I came up with the idea to make cookies with them.

 

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Creamed butter and sugar. What’s your name, man?

It’s pretty basic. You take your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and substitute brownie crumbs for the chocolate chips. It even works with regular brownie edges, if you’re not into overbaking yours. I wouldn’t recommend the fudgy center, however, as that would be hard to crumble.

 

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The following recipe assumes that you’ve already made your brownies and taken the edges off. You want about a cup of crumbles, which I found to be most of the edges of a 13 x 9 pan.

Brownie Bit Cookies

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I discovered that these are really good for dunking in hot cocoa!

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup brownie edge crumbles

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars until creamy. Add in the egg and vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure it’s well incorporated.
  3. On a low speed, slowly add in the flour mixture until it just starts to form a dough. Be careful not to overmix.
  4. Fold in the brownie crumbles. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased baking sheet. Leave about 2 inches between cookies as they will spread out a bit. Bake for 22-24 minutes or until golden brown around edges.
Baking

Mint Oreo Coal Treats

If you’re looking for a quick and easy recipe for your Christmas party, you’ve come to the right place. Made just like Rice Krispie treats, these Oreo “coal” treats are simple and delicious.

 

First, you start by crushing up some Oreos in a gallon-size bag. Then, you melt some butter in a pot and stir in mini marshmallows. Then you add the Oreos to your marshmallow goop and plop portions out onto a greased baking sheet. After that, they just need to cool for a bit. It takes all of 30 minutes from crushing to cooling. It makes about 1-2 dozen treats depending on how big or little you make them.

 

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Melted marshmallow goop.

 

Yvette showed me this YouTube video by HeyKayli, which is how I came upon this recipe. Instead of regular Oreos, however, I used mint Oreos, as per Yvette’s request. It gave the treats an interesting pale green complexion, but they taste like Thin Mints, so I’m not complaining. I also used mini marshmallows because they tend to melt a bit faster than regular ones.

 

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They’re just like Rice Krispie treats, only with Oreos instead of Rice Krispies.

 

I recommend that when you make this, deviate a bit from the directions in the video. Instead of plopping your treats onto wax paper, use a greased cookie sheet instead. I used wax paper and when I pulled the treats off, the paper stuck to them. I imagine using a greased cookie sheet and scraping the treats off with a spatula would work a lot better. Let me know how that turns out.

Mint Oreo Coal Treats

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Ingredients

  • 1 package of mint Oreos
  • 10 oz. (about 5 cups) mini marshmallows
  • 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter

Directions

  1. Crush up Oreos in a gallon-size bag. Prepare a greased cookie sheet.
  2. Melt butter in large pot over medium heat. Add marshmallows and stir constantly until smooth.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in crushed Oreos.
  4. Use two spoons to drop portions of the desired size onto cookie sheet. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before eating. They keep up to 5 days in an airtight container.
Books and Beverages

Books and Beverages (#14)

It’s been a struggle finding time to read lately, so here’s my latest three books for you to read about and maybe read for yourself. Let me know what you thought of any of these books if you’ve read any of them!

Books

2767793The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

This is the third and final book of the Mistborn series, and I have to say I really didn’t like the way it ended. At the beginning of each chapter was an excerpt as if from someone’s diary, and we don’t find out who until the end of the book, although it’s pretty easy to guess well before then. Each excerpt explains something about how the different magics involving metals works. This was what I liked least because I couldn’t get over the feeling that they were spoilers. The characters weren’t learning about these things themselves, but rather the reader was being blatantly told. It really spoiled any mystery and resulted in way too much dramatic irony. The first two-thirds of the book were pretty slow going, but it did get pretty exciting toward the end. I found the end of this series to be a bit of a disappointment, but maybe you’ll think differently.

1358350Empire: A Very Short Introduction by Stephen Howe

I had to read a few chapters of this book for a history class, but it’s so short I figured I’d just read the whole thing. If you want to learn a little bit more about imperialism, especially European imperialism, without being overwhelmed, this is probably a good book to read. I found it to be enlightening in some ways and I learned a few things, so it was worth it.

 

17851885I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

This book was a little scary in the sense that something so horrible could happen to a young woman. In case you haven’t heard about Malala, she is an outspoken advocate for women’s education, which the Taliban threatened to take away. The Taliban shot her, but she survived. I learned a lot from this book, especially about Islam and how the Taliban and other terrorist groups have perverted a religion to justify the things they do. If you’re looking to learn more about Malala’s story or looking to learn about a different culture, then you’ll want to read this book.

Beverages

Starbucks’ Chile Mocha

I figured I’d try one of these since it’s a new fall beverage. It wasn’t too spicy for me, but after every sip, a bit of heat hits you, which was really interesting. I think they also sprinkle some cayenne or something on top, but I’m not sure what exactly it was.

Bailey’s Hot Chocolate

I’ve been waiting to have some of this and now I legally can. Just add about a tablespoon of Bailey’s Irish Creme to your hot cocoa and you’re good to go. It’s really not enough to do anything and it adds a nice flavor to the cocoa. Great for those cold days!