Craisin Pistachio Magic Bars

IMG_4717When I was a wee Ella, one of my favorite holiday treats were those Magic Bars. You know the ones with the graham cracker butter crust, condensed milk, coconut, chocolate and nuts? Yes, those.

They’re still one of my favorites, but now I make them a little differently. (As I am wont to do because I like things to be different so I change up the ingredients.)  Sometimes I use toffee, sometimes cranberries and white chocolate, sometimes dried cherries and dark chocolate. You never know what I’m going to toss on them!

I haven’t tried this particular combo, but I do love Craisins and Pistachios so I decided to give it a whirl. If you try it and hate it, so sorry. I’m anticipating this to be delicious.

You’ll need:

  • 8 or 9 inch round pan (I used a foil disposable one)
  •  Sleeve of graham crackers crushed up
  • 1/2 cup of butter – melted (one stick)
  • can of sweetened condensed milk (I used about half of it, you can fix having left overs by making two of them if you’d like, just double everything else…or make two different ones!)
  • 1 cup plus a small handful of shelled pistachios
  • 1 cup plus a small handful of craisins
  • 1 cup plus a small handful of coconut
  • 1 cup plus a small handful of dark chocolate chips (I used mini ones)

What to do:

  • Preheat oven to 375*F.
  • Melt butter in microwave safe dish big enough to mix crushed graham cracker into too.
  • Use the butter paper to grease the inside of the pan. If you don’t have enough on the paper, use your non-stick spray I’m fairly certain you have or use a little more butter.
  • If you haven’t already, put sleeve of graham crackers in zip lock freezer bag and smash them up.
  • Mix crumbs into melted butter and press them into the pan for the crust.
  •  Drizzle a little of the condensed milk around the top of the crust and use the back of a spoon to spread it around.(NOTE: When drizzling, hold the can of condensed milk up high and pour slowly so it doesn’t GLOB onto the surface.)
  • Use about half a cup of each of the pistachios, craisins, mini chips, and coconut and layer them on the condensed milk. Press them down so they stick.
  • Drizzle another layer of condensed milk and use the back of a spoon to spread it around a little. 
  • Use other half cup of pistachios, craisins, mini chips, and coconut and layer them on the condensed milk. Press them down so they stick.
  • Then you want to drizzle a little more of the condensed milk on and toss a the handful of each on top.
  • Cover with foil and put in the oven for about 25-30 min. I like to check after 20 or so to keep an eye on it.
  • It’s done when the coconut is browned and it doesn’t look soupy.

Here is the crust:

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Here’s what the first layer looks like:

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And with both layers and final toppings:

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And done!

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I wish you luck. What would you put on these bars if you didn’t want (or have on hand) crasins and pistachios?

Five Questions for Your Friday

Today is Friday (as if I needed to point that out?) I don’t know about you, but my brain is ready to be done for a few days so I’m going to try to make this easy.  I’ve done Friday Fives before but now I think I’ll specifically feature food related and cooking questions. If you have questions you might like to add to the list, please email them to me!

Last week was fun! This week’s sort of theme is Romance!

  1. What’s the most romantic meal you’ve ever had? Where was it
  2. What meal tried to be a romantic meal, but it just wasn’t happening. What killed the mood?
  3. What meal do you cook (or order in) for that someone special when you’re hoping for a little somethingsomething?
  4. What food is an aphrodisiac for you?
  5. What food is a total turn off for you?

I can’t wait to see your answers! First set of answers will get mine answered in the comments below.

#fivequestionsforfriday

Sassy and Salty Chocolate Chip Cookies

IMG_4341We were the cookies that live in the bag and we have a story to tell.

We were made on a whim one day and some of our comrades were taken to the Track for a day out and about. They were good cookies and we will miss them.

Some were sent to their death as munchies for the return trip to one of Cute~Ella’s friends road trip

There were many of us, but now we are but a few.

The other day we heard Cute~Ella talking about how she was going to take us to work to share, but we just sat on her desk all day.

Wanting to get out of our misery of life in the bag, we stared at her all day long. Our salty peanuts and dark chocolate begging her to be eaten.

She held out though, wavering around 3pm when the snack time kicked in and we really thought we had her!

But alas we did not.

IMG_4344Apparently she had plans for us later that evening and she rose to our challenge…Armed with a glass of milk and a bad attitude, she savagely ate us one by one.

Some of us were munched on. Some of us were drowned in the icy cold milk.

Some were shared with that guy she lives with and while that sped things along, well?

We never stood a chance.

She faced that challenge head on and won.

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I alone am left. Although nibbled at and a little worse for wear, I am the one left to tell our tale.

***

modified from Hershey’s recipe

Ingredients:

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) HERSHEY’S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips
1 cup cocktail peanuts

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 375°F.
  2. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until creamy. Add eggs; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if desired. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. I use my mini ice cream scoop.
  3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. About 5 dozen cookies.

***

Please note that I received no compensation from Hershey’s for writing this post. The Special Dark Chips are just the ones I like to use when I have them on hand. They were paid for by my own money. Or Franks.

Five Questions for Your Friday

Today is Friday (as if I needed to point that out?) I don’t know about you, but my brain is ready to be done for a few days so I’m going to try to make this easy.  I’ve done Friday Fives before but now I think I’ll specifically feature food related and cooking questions. If you have questions you might like to add to the list, please email them to me!

Last week was fun! This week’s sort of theme is Travel!

  1. What type of food (or drink) is your area well known for? Do you enjoy it?
  2. If I came to visit, what local place would you be sure to take me to? Why?
  3. Where would you like to travel to in order to try the local cuisine? (Say, more than a 3 hour drive or flight)
  4. Have you gone back to a place just for the food? (Say, more than a 3 hour drive, just for a specific food item) Where did you go? What was it?
  5. What trip (vacation or business) had the best food? Where did you go? What did you love?

I can’t wait to see your answers! First set of answers will get mine answered in the comments below.

#fivequestionsforfriday

Helpful Hints: Give that low fat ice cream a little flavor boost!

IMG_4338When you’re trying to eat better but still want to feel like you’re getting a treat it can be hard. Let’s face it, low-fat and low calories generally can mean low flavor too.

Next time you want a little extra flavor and crunch in your lower fat ice cream without adding bunch more fats and calories? Crunch up a handful of non-fat pretzels and sprinkle on top of your favorite flavor.

This one happens to be no sugar added Edy’s Slow Churned Fudge Tracks (with fudge and mini peanut butter cups) and it adds a rich buttery crunch with a little salt.

Go ahead, try it!

What’s your favorite low calorie, low fat treat or topping?

#helpfulhints

***

Please note that I received no compensation from either Rold Gold or Edys for this post.  This was just what I had on hand and delicious so I thought I’d share.

Change it up!

I don’t know if you know, but I’m trying to get back in the healthy eating game and to shed some of these pounds I’ve put on over the last year. If you’re inclined, you can follow me here with it.This post was originally over there.

One of the things I dislike about getting back on the healthy eating train is that I find myself eating the same things over and over again if I’m not careful. This is because a) I’m lazy about making lunch and what not and b) once you’ve got some good food that you like with good numbers, it can be hard to change things.

But then I get bored and want to have something different or exciting. (Which equates often to me eating out, eating food that doesn’t represent the best choices and is generally WAY too much.

What’s a girl to do?

Here are a few ways I make myself think I’m changing it up:

  1. Heat it up! Seriously, 20 seconds in the microwave and my lean meat, mustard or peanut sauce and cheese on a sandwich round takes on a whole new flavor. (If you’re a mayo and veggie on the sandwich fan, put these on AFTER it gets heated.) The flavors mix in a totally different way and it tastes more decadent once it’s been heated.
  2. Spice it up! A sprinkle of Adobo or Emeril’s, a hint of garlic or whatever your favorite spice happens to be on your sandwich, in your whole wheat pasta, or salad can totally change your lunch. One of my favorite salad “dressings” is a ginger rosemary blend on the salad with a little pepper and white vinegar drizzled over it. Just a bit. So yummy! If it’s your favorite to cook with, try a little on your lunch.
  3. Alternate what you’re having. Sometimes I bring a sandwich, sometimes left overs, sometimes leftovers on a sandwich (zucchini and mushrooms with Gouda on a sandwich round anyone? SO GOOD). Go crazy, but be honest with yourself about how much you’re eating.
  4. Piece it together. Sick of sandwiches? How about a yogurt with sliced fruit mixed in and some whole wheat crackers? A toasted English muffin, with tomatoes and string cheese?

Give it a whirl. What can it hurt? What do you do to change it up?

Cherry Chocolate Muffins: A Photo Essay

Previously from here.

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You take these.

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Mix it in this.

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Add these

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And get this!

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