Salted Caramel Rice Krispie Treats

Over the past year or so, Artie and I attended a couple dozen potluck events – Supper Clubs, work events, parties, etc. And pretty much every single time, I brought Rice Krispie Treats. It is my go-to potluck item. Easy to prepare, easy to transport, sort-of homemade, relatively low-cost, enjoyed by all. All the wins.

Recently I was wondering how I became the Rice Krispie Treat lady at every function, and I remembered that while I was writing my dissertation, I had to make a dessert for a fundraiser bake-off at work. What could be easier than Rice Krispies? Nothing. And so the obsession began dessert niche was formed.

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Rice Krispie Treats are made with cereal, so they are a part of a balanced breakfast, right?

Given how many Rice Krispies I’ve made, I’ve taken to experimenting with flavors and mix-ins. Some were winners (sprinkles!) while others were not so good (candy corn). But one recipe that consistently receives rave reviews is Salted Caramel Rice Krispie Treats. So by popular request, I give you the recipe (it is so easy, I almost hesitate to call it a recipe!).

Salted Caramel Rice Krispie Treats – adapted from the recipe on the Rice Krispies cereal box + many Pinterest finds

Ingredients:

  • Stick of unsalted butter
  • Large box of Rice Krispies (generic cereal works just fine)
  • 10-ounce bag of marshmallows (Publix brand are my favorite)
  • 2/3 bag of caramel candies (I prefer the Kraft caramels pictured below)
  • Salt (sea salt or fancy salt is great, but regular salt works, too)

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Directions:

  • Rice Krispie Treats come together quickly, so start by getting all the ingredients and dishes prepped.
  • Remove the caramel candies from the bag and their individual wrappers. Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, cut the candies into quarters. Do NOT put these in a bowl – they will end up stuck together (#learnedthehardway). Instead, lay the chopped up candies on a piece of parchment paper or wax paper.
  • Use one tablespoon of butter to grease a 9×13 baking dish. Hold onto the rest of that little pat of butter for later.
  • In a large pot, melt 7 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat.
  • When the butter is melted, add the entire bag of marshmallows. Stir until the marshmallows are completely melted.
  • Add about 10 cups of Rice Krispies cereal and a pinch of salt.
  • Stir until everything is combined.
  • Pour about half the mixture into the 9×13 pan, pushing into an even layer with the back of the spoon. Sprinkle evenly with the chopped caramel candies. Top with the remaining Rice Krispies mixture.
  • Use the little pat of butter left over from earlier to grease a sheet of wax paper. With the greased side down, use the wax paper to gently press the Rice Krispies into the pan.
  • Sprinkle the top with just a little bit of salt. Press down to make sure the salt adheres.
  • Then comes the hardest part- allow the mixture to cool for at least an hour. The Rice Krispies will be much easier to cut if you let them sit for a while, but let’s be clear that I usually dig in right away.
  • Cut into squares with a sharp knife. Enjoy!
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Salted caramel Rice Krispie treats x 2 minus quality control bites.

This “recipe” is pretty flexible – you can experiment with less or more butter, marshmallows, or cereal to get the flavor and texture you like best. You can also experiment with other mix-ins like chocolate chips, crushed cookies, sprinkles, etc.

I have found these will keep in an airtight container on the counter for a few days (if they last that long!). I’ve also been known to freeze individually wrapped leftovers for a sweet weeknight treat. Enjoy!

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Food in Jars: Roasted Cherry Parfaits

A few weeks ago, I found a recipe on Pinterest for Roasted Cherry Parfaits. Cherries are in season and I’ve been looking for an excuse to make these yummy looking parfaits. When we went to a breakfast for dinner potluck, it seemed like the perfect occasion.

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IMG_2316And they were delicious. The end.

Pimento Cheese Love

I should probably start by saying that this post is not sponsored by Sweet Grass Dairy and I did not receive any products from them for this endorsement. I just really like their cheese and thought I would share some of my favorite ways to serve it.

Pimento cheese. Not normally something I would say I like. Growing up, those sandwiches with the bright yellow/orange filling and the little red bits weirded me out. I also don’t really like mayonnaise. It wasn’t until I (reluctantly) tried the pimento cheese at Sweet Grass Dairy that I fell in love.

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The first time I tried this pimento cheese was at a wine and cheese tasting. It was tucked into a deviled egg. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t like it, but I didn’t want to say so until I gave it a try. And I was pleasantly surprised.

The pimento cheese at Sweet Grass Dairy has great texture and flavor. It is creamy, tangy, and slightly spicy with just enough mayo to hold together the delicious Thomasville Tomme cheese and Piquillo peppers. Oh my. This pimento cheese is perfect on crackers, on crusty bread, in a deviled egg, or by itself on a spoon (don’t judge!). More than once, I’ve gone to a potluck with a tub of this cheese and a sleeve of crackers and there is never any leftover at the end of the night.

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Our favorite way to eat Sweet Grass Dairy pimento cheese is on bread, open-faced and topped with a pickled green tomato slice. We serve these yummy open-faced sammies alongside a simple salad dressed with olive oil and vinegar.

I highly doubt I would like any pimento cheese other than this one. We try to get up to Thomasville every few weeks and you can be sure whenever we are there, I come home with a tub of this cheese and plans for a simple, delicious dinner.

If you are interested in trying this yummy cheese and don’t like anywhere near Thomasville, you can order it online here: http://sweetgrassdairy.com/products.

Tour de France

Every year for the past few years, we’ve invited over a few of our friends who like cycling to watch the final stage of the Tour de France. This year, folks showed up around 5:00 for snacks and drinks.

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The spread included some of our favorite Sweet Grass Dairy cheeses and delicious accompaniments.

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Artie hard at work in the kitchen, doing what he does best.

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Olives with salami, baby dill pickles, and prosciutto.

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Pimento cheese (favorite!!!) with pickled green tomatoes and spicy pickled okra.

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Brie cheese with honey and fig jam. 

IMG_1869A salt block with watermelon, feta, and mint.

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Perfect bite of brie with fig jam.

There was also wine and beer (duh). Around 6:30, we had Decent Pizza delivered. We paired the pizza with a big salad that Artie had prepped in advance (romaine lettuce, baby peppers, cherry tomatoes. homemade croutons, and homemade dressing). The plan was to spend our time/energy on appetizers and keep dinner simple. We probably had some desserts, too, but I guess I didn’t get a picture. If I had to guess, I’d say they were cupcakes 🙂 It was a perfectly simple and delicious menu – great for spending time with friends and watching more of Le Tour. I’m looking forward to next year and another Tour de France gathering with good food and good friends!

Deconstructed Shortcake

Alternate title for this post: Red, White, and Blueberry Shortcake

A few weeks ago, we celebrated a life milestone for one of the people in my office. I signed up to bring a dessert. I was looking for something low-maintenance that I could easily transport to work and would capitalize on the delicious fresh berries that are currently in season.

Behold the deconstructed shortcake!

photo(5)This dessert could not have been easier to prepare. The secret – one store bought ingredient for convenience, one fresh/high-quality ingredient, and fresh/seasonal produce. And a pretty platter for serving.

The store bought ingredient was the Sara Lee pound cake. It was on sale at Publix – buy one, get one free. I defrosted the pound cake for about 10 minutes and then cut it into cubes.

The fresh/high-quality ingredient was the whipped cream. Using the whisk attachment on my mixer, I whisked a medium-sized carton of heavy whipping cream until soft peaks formed (careful not to let it go too long or you’ve have butter). I added a few teaspoons of sugar and a splash of vanilla at the very end to give the whipped cream a little bit of sweetness. Cool Whip and the artificial stuff in the cans have nothing on freshly whipped cream.

The fresh/seasonal produce was a carton of strawberries (rinsed, dried, and cut in quarters) and a pint of blueberries (rinsed and dried). Easy peasy. Blackberries would work well, too.

photo(4)Another option for this dessert would be to get small plastic cups and layer the ingredients to create individual parfaits – start with a layer of cake cubes, then berries, and then a few spoons of whipped cream. One more layer of each and top with a berry or two.

A berry delicious seasonal dessert that is easy to make, easy to transport, affordable, and a huge hit.

V is for Very Delicious Veggies

 

 

On Friday, I hosted the Doctoral Visiting Days Social at my house. The gathering was a potluck so fortunately I didn’t have to do a lot of cooking. Whenever I’m going to a potluck and I’m not sure there is going to be 1) anything I like or 2) anything healthy, I make sure to sign up for something that fulfills both of these criteria so I know I’ll have something to eat.

This delicious veggie tray certainly fits the bill. It turned out much better than I imagined.

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First, I whipped up two quick batches of White Bean Dip and Black Bean Dip in the food processor. These were inspired by this recipe for Simple Black Bean Dip. The White Bean Dip wasn’t very good (it was kind of runny and lacked flavor) so I won’t bother with posting the recipe. The Black Bean Dip was really good though. It included 1-1/2 cans drained and rinsed black beans, olive oil (I didn’t measure but I’m guessing 1 tablespoon or so), cumin (a few hearty shakes), garlic, and a dollop of plain nonfat Greek yogurt. Whirl in the food processor until smooth. Yum.

For the dippers, I had (clockwise from top): English cucumber slices, (pre-cut) carrots, zucchini slices, cherry tomatoes, celery sticks, yellow bell peppers strips, and orange bell pepper strips.

This Very Delicious Veggie platter made for a yummy, healthy appetizer. I especially liked the bell peppers, zucchini slices, and cherry tomatoes with the black bean dip. This is the perfect, healthy way to start a party and a quick, easy dish for any potluck. Enjoy!