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!

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!

Tasting Plate for a Hungry Girl

Anyone who is my friend on Facebook or follows me on Twitter knows that for the past six months I have been enthusiastically riding my bike, preparing for the Miles for Miley ride 🙂  I feel like I’ve come a long way: my first ride in May was a slow 10 miles and two days ago I rode a speedy, solo 40 mile ride (which would have been 50 miles if I hadn’t run over a piece of glass and popped my back tire).  One thing I’ve noticed about training for an endurance ride is that I am hungry (well, not right after a long ride but during the next day or two, my belly is growling)!  Food is fuel for my long workouts.  Today, my belly has been rumbling since right after breakfast but I wasn’t hungry for anything in particular, so I made what I consider a blog-worthy tasting plate:

My lunch nibbles included (clock-wise from top):

A few thin slices of sharp white cheddar cheese

Crackers: two sweet and two savory

A spoon of sunflower nut butter (read about my love for nut butter here)

A Honeycrisp apple (best apple variety ever!), cut into slices

1/2 of a medium avocado, cut into slices

2/3 of a red bell pepper, cut into slices

A small pour of Annie’s Goddess dressing (so yummy!)

Served with my favorite beverage: grapefruit flavored La Croix

What a fun lunch!  I enjoyed putting together different yummy bites: apple with sunflower butter on a sweet cracker, apple slice with cheese, avocado with cheese on a savory cracker, red pepper dipped in dressing, red pepper dipped in sunflower butter, etc.  I didn’t finish the avocado, cheese, or sunflower nut butter, but everything else was eaten up!  On the nutrition side, this was a great combo of fruits/veggies, carbs, and healthy fats.  I’m not sure why I don’t eat meals like this more often – it was easy, affordable, versatile, and fun.

Sweet Cuppin’ Cakes

I love cupcakes.  Especially pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  This delicious treat from Lucy and Leo’s Cupcakery is a-maz-ing.

I like to eat my cupcakes with a tiny fork and make sure there is an equal distribution of frosting with each bite.  Artie is a little more creative – he pulls the bottom off the cupcake (which he calls a muffin) and smushes it on the top to make a cupcake sandwich.  Perhaps a visual would help.

No matter how you eat it, this moist, spicy cake with creamy, sweet frosting is the perfect bite to welcome fall.  Dessert doesn’t get much better than this!

Shannon’s Bean Dip

Because our house is mostly back together (pictures coming soon!) and because today is college football and I’m craving bean dip I think it’s time to post this recipe.  It’s the perfect recipe for the blog comeback – simple, delicious, and a real crowd pleaser.

The first time I had this dish, I was a freshman in college and Shannon baked a bean dip and brought it to the ladies of 2 East Landis Hall as a finals week treat.  I quickly asked for the recipe and I’ve make it countless times since then.  The students at my office rave about the bean dip and when I show up with one at potluck events I am met with “Yes!  Jillian brought the delicious dip!”  So I’ll pass along the recipe because it is delish and perfect for tailgates, holiday parties, and (if I’m being totally honest) dinner.  Enjoy!

Shannon’s Bean Dip

can of refried beans

can of black beans, drained and rinsed

jar of salsa

6 – 8 ounces sour cream

6 – 8 ounces cheese

tortilla chips (for serving)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl, gently fold black beans into refried beans, making sure not to smush the black beans.  Spread the bean mixture on the bottom of an 8×8 or 9×9 glass baking dish.

Spread the sour cream on top of the bean mixture.

Spoon the salsa on top of the sour cream, keeping the two in distinct layers.

Top the salsa with the cheese.

Bake uncovered for 20 – 30 minutes until hot and bubbly.  Serve warm with tortilla chips.

Sometimes, if I’m going to a gathering with a lot of people, I’ll double this and bake it in a 9×13 pan.  If you like cilantro, chop a handful of cilantro and sprinkle on top of the bean dip as soon as the dip comes out of the oven.  You could also top with diced avocado.  Or, if you are me, you can top it with both!

The photos above are courtesy of Shannon.  I don’t have a picture of the dip after it has finished cooking (probably because in all the times I’ve made it, it goes directly from oven to table to mouth without pause!) but I guarantee that if you prepare this for any gathering, your dish will look like this in no time:

Tzatziki Sauce

A few weeks ago, we hosted a Greek themed party. For this party, one of my contributions was tzatziki sauce. Tzatziki is a creamy, cucumber flavored sauce that is very versatile. This sauce is good spread on pita bread, as a topping for gyros and grilled meats, or as a dipping sauce for foods like spanikopita  or cut vegetables.

Here is my recipe for tzatziki sauce:

Ingredients for the tzatziki sauce
Ingredients for the tzatziki sauce

Ingredients:

  • 17.6 oz plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1 english cucumber, peeled and finely diced.
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill

Place the diced cucumber in a paper towel lined bowl and cover with another paper towel. This will help absorb some of the moisture from the cucumber, resulting in a thicker, less watery tzatziki sauce. Let the cucumber sit for about 15 minutes. In another bowl, mix together the Greek yogurt and sour cream until combined. Stir in the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and fresh dill. Add the diced cucumber. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator overnight. Stir again before serving.

This tzatziki was a hit at our Greek-themed party and this recipe is one I would make again.

Tzatziki with pita
Tzatziki with pita

Birthday Gorp

Sorry we are so behind on posting! After vacation, I attended a conference and then as soon as I got back into town my sister came to stay with us for two weeks.  She and I have been BUSY for the last two weeks: watched four chick flicks, went to see Eclipse, made friendship bracelets, went shopping at the outlet malls, tie-dyed shirts, baked cookies, baked muffins, had a spa day complete with pedicures and haircuts, and ate at all Jenna’s favorite Tally establishments (Chick-fil-A, Moe’s, Coldstone, and TCBY). Whew! Pretty much the best sister visit ever. No wonder I haven’t made it to the computer for a while! But enough with my excuses – on to the recipe!

Last week, my friend Elizabeth turned the big 3-0. Happy Birthday, Elizabeth!  She loves gorp (aka trail mix) so there was no question as to what she was getting for her birthday. I love that trail mix is endlessly customizable.  Here is my favorite recipe, which I used for Elizabeth’s birthday gorp.

Note: I never use exact measurements when I’m making gorp, so the amounts in the recipe below are approximations.

  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 cup unsalted peanuts
  • 1 bag of M&M’s
  • 1/2 bag of the new Pretzel M&M’s (not pictured – last minute addition!)
  • 3/4 box of Kashi Heart to Heart cereal (my favorite – also mentioned here)
  • 1 lb. bag of mini pretzels
  • Generous sprinkle of sunflower seeds
  • 6 ounces dried cranberries

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and stir gently to combine.  At this point you want to eyeball the mixture and make sure it looks good to you.  I always end up with more trail mix than I intend to make because I just keep adding ingredients until the mixture looks right to me.  But that’s okay because trail mix is a good snack to share with friends 🙂

When you are satisfied with the mix, pour the mixture into a large plastic bag or container or portion into individual snack bags.

Like I said above, trail mix is endlessly customizable.  I like to make the mix above (minus the chocolate because chocolate makes my tummy hurt) and keep some in my desk at work or in my gym bag for a quick afternoon snack or pre-workout fuel.

This is how Elizabeth’s finished birthday gorp looked:

Yes, I broke down and did it up right for her with Gator colors.  Happy Birthday, Elizabeth!

Leave a comment and let me know: what is your favorite trail mix combo?