Mango Key Lime Pie Bars

mango bar 3

Most of the kids have headed back to school this week and I can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic, especially with next year being 10 years since I graduated from high school. I don’t necessarily miss school but I do kind of miss that feeling of excitement for the first day. What to wear that first day?, who were you going to meet?, what teachers were you gonna have?, how many classes were you gonna have with your best friend?, any cute new guys? On my way to work as I passed those kids standing at the bus stop laughing and having animated conversations probably about what they did this summer or what they think the new school year is going to be , I can’t help but to feel a little anxious and excited for them.

But as we all know the novelty of that first day feeling wears off fairly quickly and your back to sitting in class anticipating the last day and daydreaming about all the fun things  you are going to do for the next summer vacation. It’s a funny cycle.

And as the fall closes in and the summer winds down I figure I would wrap it up with some desserts that are kind of summer inspired. Mango is a fruit I totally associate with the summer. I mean sure you can get it year round but to me it will always be my favorite summer fruit. In fact I think I commemorated last summer with this awesome recipe for Mango Ice Cream. So when Mango key lime pie came on to my radar a couple of years ago (thanks to a killer sweet tooth and stroll through Publix bakery) I was so totally excited. I immediately decided to make one myself because ….well because I had to or else I would have ended up stalking the bakery crew at Publix and breaking the bank trying to feed this new found obsession.

From that obsession came the transformation of a mango key lime pie into this bar. This mango key lime bar is really a labor of love. The recipe for mango key lime pie is simple enough but believe it or not it took about 3 or 4 different test to get this recipe which is exactly what I wanted. It’s basically a mango key lime pie but with a few extra goodies going on. The crust is a toasted coconut shortbread crust and the filling is pretty much your basic mango key lime pie filling but with chunks of sweet mango throughout.

mango bar1

 

Crust

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

½ cup powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups all- purpose flour

1 cup toasted coconut

 

Filling

1 mango , diced

1 tablespoon sugar

1- 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

6 egg yolk

½ cup key lime juice

Zest of two limes

Sautéed mangoes

2 mangoes, diced

2 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons sugar

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In bowl of electric mixer cream the softened butter and powdered sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add vanilla. Add the flour and toasted coconut and mix until just combined. Press into the bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan and using a fork poke holes throughout the crust. Bake at 350 for 12 to 13 minutes. Allow the crust to cool completely.
  2. Peel and dice 2 mangoes. In a large sauté pan, place two tablespoons of butter and the diced mango. Add two tablespoons of sugar and sauté over medium heat stirring constantly until mango is softened and just starts to break down. Set aside.
  3. Peel and dice remaining mango and place in a small bowl and sprinkle 1 table spoon of sugar over it and stir. Set aside. In a blender combine the egg yolks, key lime juice, sweetened condensed milk, mango and lime zest. Blend until mixture is smooth. Gently stir in the sautéed mango and pour the mixture onto the crust. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in 350 oven.
  4. Allow the bars to cool completely then place in the fridge to chill for 2 to 3 hours of overnight. Remove from pan and cut into even squares.

 

 

Bittersweet Honesty and Moving Foward

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In all honesty guys I have to admit  that this blog was kicking my butt. I think I had begun to put so much pressure on myself that it was actually leaving me kind of frustrated and blocked. My whole point for starting this blog was to have fun and share and connect with other food lovers like me but somewhere along the way the Virgo in me took over and I started comparing myself and my blog to others.

My blog is a little over a year old and still very small, and instead of being excited about going into the kitchen to whip up something new and captivating, I found myself becoming really frustrated. Lately every kitchen session was on this pressure of “Gotta create new content! Gotta create new content!” and it was really affecting my baking mojo. So I had to take a deep breath and realize that no one really cares and no one is putting that pressure on me but me.

I also realized that everybody works differently, and to put out the best content I can I just have to work the way that’s best for me and be true to myself. If I pressure myself like that and just start posting things just to have content or because I feel like I have to keep up and not because I am truly excited or really want to share something that would be cheating myself, my readers and my future readers.

So I’m revamping my work methods and possibly my blog. I have decided to enjoy this place and time and my blog. I will take my time and make sure that what I’m posting is quality and that it took time, effort and a considerable amount of trial and error. This is the place where I get to share a part of myself and express my creativity.

Every day I would browse my favorite blogs with mixed emotions. There would be joy because I love reading them and being inspired and then there would be a little bit frustration and I would start to think my pictures will never be that beautiful or I can never be that funny and clever and everything they post is so amazing and  I can never be that good. Then a thought occurred to me, the hell with it. This is my blog, my rules and my way. I truly believe (Cliché alert! Cliché Alert!) If you build it they will come”.

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So I guess I’m just asking you guys to bear with me and to come along with me on this journey. I’m still learning and growing and I’m okay with that. I may not be able to blow your mind with new and exciting content 3 times a week But know that what I am posting I’m excited about and I’m busting at the seams to share it with you. Maybe my baby blog will be huge one day and that would be awesome but if it doesn’t so what. I’m in it for the food, the possible new friends and the fun.

 

Getting Smart about Cooking for One

grocery

Since I’ve started my new job, I have begun to spend a crazy amount of money eating out (which I totally cannot afford to do) and I can admit that most these places don’t have particularly healthy options. Every week I vow to pack a lunch and not eat out but it’s usually to no avail. I don’t really cook much during the week which means I never have anything to take for lunch and dinner is usually something prepackaged or simple like cereal or PB & J.

Am I proud of this fact…. NO…. I love food and I love to cook but I do have (well had) a couple of good reasons. (1) I’ve been living on my own for about two years now and I have to say I have found it really difficult to shop and cook for one. I always seem to make waay to much which usually means I have spent way too much on ingredients. I have kind of started to embrace the freedom of it now and am learning to shop better. Instead of buying way too many ingredients for one dish I am learning that I can buy smaller portions of more things and make many meals. Another part of the freedom is that if I have a taste for something or see a recipe I want to try I completely can with no ones to cater to but me.

(2) Sheer and utter laziness. Sometimes I just don’t gosh darn feel like it especially in the summer. I think I stated in another post that I don’t have central AC in my little apartment, I have a little window unit but it can still get pretty uncomfortable at times. During these times let’s just say I’m not thrilled to turn my oven or stove on. But I have figured out how to combat this with a little smart shopping and advanced planning. That’s why this weekend I decided to make a menu and a master list for several different options for the week or possibly two weeks. The plan is to try doing this as much as I can. The picture above shows the results of my pillage to the grocery store.

I am going to turn all this into my stash for the next week possibly longer. And the best part is I control what goes in each dish which means it’s a healthier option than the stuff I’ve was getting eating out. And I also get to save money which is always awesome. So this post doesn’t have any recipes. I didn’t initially plan for this to be a post, but I plan on doing more post like these so hopefully over time I will be able to manage to incorporate recipes and better photos( But hey! You got to start somewhere)

1 pkg celery

1 container butter lettuce

1 bunch scallions

1 large sweet onion

1 cucumber

3 Roma tomatoes

1 lemon

1 bag spring mix

1 small bunch grape

1 bottle of hot sauce

1 pkg bleu cheese crumbles

2 pk Croissants from bakery

1 tiny wedge parmesean cheese

1 box of chicken stock

1 pkg of 2 large chicken breast

1 bag of frozen medium shrimp

1 box Linguini

1 bulb garlic

 

The first thing I did was make a big container of salad. It’s simple and healthy and I can pull from it throughout the week and it can go along side just about anything.

salad

 

 

From the stash pictured above I was able to make

*Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

*Chicken salad (croissant sandwiches or just on its own)

*Shrimp scampi and linguine

Once everything I was made I was able to spit it into containers and pop them in the fridge and the freezer. When it was all said and done I was set for lunch and dinner for the coming week and a half. After seeing what I had left I was able to plan my menu for the next week and only pick up one or two thing from the store instead of a whole shopping cart full.

 

 

 

Sweet Tea Sorbet

sorbet 1

Sweet Tea is a staple here in the south. It’s offered pretty much everywhere and it’s usually branded “southern style” which in some cases means so sweet it almost syrupy.  I remember my mom telling me about my great-grandmother and the tea she used to make. My mom swears it was and still is the best tea she has ever had. My great-grandmother used to make Sun Tea. You pour water into a glass pitcher or container and add the tea bags and sit the pitcher in a nice sunny spot and watch the magic happen. Every ice cold glass was not complete until she dropped a few mint leaves in each glass which she grew right the bottom of her front porch steps. You can’t get more refreshing than that and you can’t beat memories like that either.

 

I enjoy iced tea a lot too, although to be honest I don’t really like a lot of the overly sweet versions that most place offer so I tend to go for unsweetened tea when I go out. I think one of the funniest experiences I had was ordering my food and when it came time to order my beverage I politely asked the lady behind the counter for “unsweetened tea, please” and I swear it seemed like the entire restaurant stopped and the girl behind the counter said “Did you say unsweetened?, Are you sure?”.  It’s almost blasphemous to order unsweetened tea in the south. I however find it quite hilarious when I get that reaction. This of course means I have to keep ordering it.

I’ve been patiently awaiting the hot months so I can dust off the ice cream maker and get inspired to come up with some fun frozen treat recipes, and I’m thinking what better way to break it back in than making sweet tea in frozen form. And before you panic …IT IS NOT UNSWEETENED PEOPLE! It is definitely sweet, smooth and refreshing.

sweet tea 2

 

 

Sweet Tea Sorbet

3 cups water

2 family size tea bags

2 cups sugar

½ cup lemon juice

1 bunch fresh mint

 

  1. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. As soon as water begins to boil, remove from the heat and add the tea bags. Allow tea to steep and turn dark amber color ( I prefer stronger tea, but if you don’t you can use one tea bag) about 30 minutes.

 

  1. Remove 1 cup of the brewed tea and set aside. Put the saucepan with the remaining tea back onto the stove and add the 2 cups sugar and bring to a boil for 1 minute making sure the sugar is dissolved.

 

 

  1. Remove from the heat again and drop in the mint. Allow the mint to steep and the mixture to become completely cool.

 

  1. Strain and stir in the reserved 1 cup of brewed tea and the lemon juice.
  2. Pour the mixture into the ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instruction. About 30-40 minutes.
  3. Scrape the mixture into a chilled container and freeze until hardened or until ready to serve.

Peanut Butter Snickers Stuffed Double Chocolate Cookie

I stuffed a mini peanut butter snickers into a chocolate cookie. I guess I have to explain more than that, but if somebody told me that I pretty much wouldn’t have to hear anything else. My hand would be out and I would be salivating.

These cookies were not planned; In fact I went to the grocery store for supplies intending to make a totally different cookie recipe. I walked into the store and once again those freaking buy one get one free signs started calling me and I found myself instantly distracted from my initial goal. I’m not to upset because the cookies came out that distraction.

I found a giant bag of mini peanut butter snickers which was essentially half priced, how could I possibly pass that up and plus I have been dying to stuff something inside of a cookie ever since I laid eyes on this recipe for Blahnik Baker ( btw how awesome is her blog, If you havent checked it out you so totally should). So that leads us back to my first statement: I stuffed a mini peanut butter snicker inside of a chocolate cookie.

pb snicker

This cookie satisfied every part of the chocolate lover in me and plus the ooey gooey peanut butter snicker in the center made these EPIC!. I think Inhaled about 3 of these while they were still warm and then I realized at some point if I was going to share the recipe I would have to save some to photograph. Trust me it was a very very hard thing to do, but that is how much I love you guys.

pb snicker cookie 2

Peanut Butter Snickers Stuffed Double Chocolate Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened

½ cup sugar

½ cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon cornstarch

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In medium bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer cream together the butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined. With the mixer on low speed add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Gently stir in the chocolate chips.

Allow the cookie dough to chill for 2 hours. Once dough is chilled drop one tablespoon of dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet and press an unwrapped mini snickers in the center. Drop another tablespoon of cookie dough on top on mini snickers. Roll the dough to form a cookie dough ball and completely cover the candy.

Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes or until edges are slightly set. Once removed from the oven allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes then gently transfer to a baking rack and let cool completely.

 

Strawberry Coconut Margarita Pops

straw pops

I’m pretty sure this wont be the last no bake treat you see on this blog in the coming months. The temperature outside is starting to go up and that means that so is the temperature in my little apartment. If I had central AC it would be fine but at this moment I am making due with a little window unit in my bedroom that chugs and chugs away like the little engine that could to cool my apartment down.

No central AC …..How do you survive in this heat! I guess I just do…am I happy about it no especially since its just the beginning, we haven’t even gotten to the insane 100 degree weather of the summer, but you learn to make due. I was promised the issue would be resolved when I moved in and that was almost 2 years ago so at this particular point I’ve just accepted it and found other ways to try to beat the heat plus I’m hoping to move this year anyway. I’m guessing its one of those things that they just label “I’m working” on it and add it to a list of other stuff that their “working on”. But let’s just say I don’t really look forward to turning on my oven that much on those particularly hot days.

 

But on the bright side, it leaves me open to finding and sharing recipes that don’t require me to turn on the oven and do require me to get a little creative. I also figured out how I know I’m a hardcore baking addict ….when the heat gets bad it pretty much turns my little apartment into a giant proof box…. So it kind of makes me itch to bust out some bread recipes. Nuts, right!?

 

The ideas for these pops actually came from a drink recipe I was and still am working on. The flavor combo was so amazing together that I knew I wanted to do something else with these it. It finally clicked when I looked up and saw some popsicle molds that I had scored a while ago during one of my thrift store raids. I have been dying to use ever since I bought them, and what is better on a hot day than an ice pop.

Just as a side note let me mention that I am completely and totally in love with my ice pop molds now that I finally got a chance to use them. It might actually be dangerous because now I am constantly fighting the urge to make everything into ice pops just so I can use them (meatloaf ice pops …hmmm….probably not a good idea).

 

 

These Strawberry Coconut Margarita Ice Pops are everything you need for a cool refreshing treat, and the best part is that they are super easy to put together. You basically just dump everything into the blender, stir in a little vanilla, lime zest and a little coconut flakes (optional) freeze and devour!

 

Strawberry Coconut Margarita Pops

 

1 can Coconut milk (the full-fat sweetened kind a.k.a the good stuff)

½ cup Vanilla Greek Yogurt

½ cup sugar

½ cup honey

1 pint strawberries (washed, hulled and chopped)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Zest and juice of one lime

½ cup sweetened coconut flakes (optional)

 

1. In blender combine Coconut milk, Greek yogurt, sugar, honey, vanilla strawberries and lime juice and blend until smooth and combined.

 

2. Pour the mixture through a strainer into a large bowl. Stir in the lime zest, vanilla and coconut flakes (if using).

 

3. Transfer the mixture to a pitcher or large measuring cup, this makes it easier to pour the mixture into Popsicle molds and freeze for 4 to 6 hours but overnight is the best.

 

straw pop2

 

Red Velvet Waffles

red velvet waffle1

I guess I should talk about the magic that is Red Velvet Cake for a minute. If you’re from the south like I  am you have had just about every variation of it. Actually Red Velvet Cake is just one of those classics, so you really don’t even have to be a southerner to have grown up with it. Everyone’s mother, grandmother, great-aunt, first cousin Judy has a red velvet cake recipe. Some people swear by nuts, some people don’t. Some people are heavy on the cocoa, some just add a pinch. Then there’s the butter vs. oil debate and lets not even get into the color (It should be bright red, No it should be dark). It can go on and on, but the point is you have had every version at some point. Fair to say some good and some not so good. It’s just one of those cakes that people get really persnickety about. This is why we will save that debacle for another day and just stick with these amazing waffles for now….

Does anybody else feel slightly guilty eating cake for breakfast? I know I’m a grown lady (which is debatable sometimes) but I still feel a twinge of guilt. Don’t get me wrong im not gonna stop …lol… at this point I have just accepted it. I’m not talking about coffee cake or little dainty glazed tea cakes these are acceptable, im talking about waking up in the morning and remembering you have a delicious and sinful frosted hunk of goodness sitting in your kitchen. This is a judge free zone and because it is I can tell you that yes I have sat at my dining room table with a big hunk of cake and a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning.

So to assuage some of my guilt I decided to just turn one of my favorite cakes into a breakfast food…well…..it’s in the breakfast food family anyway. There are always loopholes people. So yes I made Red Velvet waffles. Red velvet cake meet Waffles…..Waffles meet Red velvet cake. I think you two will be very happy together.

The first time I made these waffle it was really just a whim. My mom was staying over and I knew I was going to make us breakfast in the morning and I was just in the mood to switch it up. So a quick glance in my cabinets and fridge and a look at the shiny new waffle maker my mom had gotten me for my birthday (and also a quick internet search) and Red Velvet Waffle it was. I even whipped up some cream cheese frosting to dollop on the top. I knew it was a winner when I got the thumbs up from mom, especially since red velvet cake is her favorite. So it seems only fitting to share this recipe around Mothers Day.

Red Velvet Waffle

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup cake flour

½ cup cornstarch

2 ½ tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

4 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 ¾ cup buttermilk

1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled

2 teaspoons vanilla

½ teaspoon white vinegar

3 teaspoons red food coloring

 

  1. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cake flour, cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside
  2. Preheat waffle iron
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together buttermilk, eggs, butter, vanilla, white vinegar and food coloring.
  4. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir gently until combined.
  5. Cook waffles according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Waffles are generally done when they stop steaming or if your waffle iron is similar to mine it has a little light that lets you know when the waffles are done (Gotta love technology!)
  6. You can whip up a batch of cream cheese frosting if you want or just drown them in some good ol Maple syrup. However you decide to eat them Enjoy!
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