January: Homemade Pop-Tarts

Pop-tartBaking is a lot of fun for me. However, I never seem to make enough time for it. That is why my resolution this year is to bake one new recipe a month. It will give me an excuse at least once a month to roll up my sleeves and bust out the apron.

This month I decided to try homemade Pop-Tarts. Yes, as a child I enjoyed those cardboard like pastries. There is something so amazing about putting a pastry in the toaster. The warm filling…ah.  When I was tempted by the box on my way through the grocery store, I decided to resist and instead try it at home.

I used a recipe from Smitten Kitchen. The filling combinations are endless. However, I decided to stick to the basics for my first batch. Half were apricot pineapple jam (ok maybe a not so basic flavor) and the other half were brown sugar cinnamon. Some other future combinations to consider:

  • Smores: Use mini marshmallows or leftover homemade marshmallows plus chocolate chips. With the dough change out the sugar for honey and replace some of the all-purpose flour with graham flour.
  • Nutella + Bananas + Sea Salt: My mother saw this brilliant combination on a cooking program after I’d made my batch.
  • Two jams together: Perhaps I ate too many seasonal Pop-Tarts but I recall flavors that were combinations of colors. What about a blueberry and strawberry jam swirl?
  • Lemon curd: The tang of the lemon would help pack a punch to these buttery treats. Consider a simple icing over the top once they are fully cooled.

Ultimately the exterior was like making pie crust. If you decide to make Pop-Tarts here are the lessons I learned from my first batch:

  • If you have a food processor use it. The recipe gave multiple options. I like the ease and clean up of the food processor.
  • The dough does show the pea size butter chunks in it when you are rolling it out. Don’t be worried.
  • If using a jam filling, thicken the jam while the dough is chilling. The jam needs time to cool too or else it will start to melt the dough. I mistakenly did it later and had to shove the jam in the freezer.
  • When poking holes in the dough, I used a fork like the recipe recommended. However, you may want to consider a toothpick or bamboo skewer instead to have more control over where the holes are placed.

Let me know if you try making them. I would love to hear about the filling you use!

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2012 Food Flashback

Looking back at the last year is a funny way to start a blog. However, I’ve been meaning to write this for a while. It only makes sense to share a few delicious highlights of 2012.

Chicago-style hot dog

Pasta

Carrots

January: A wonderful trip to Chicago. At the Wilmette Chuck Wagon, I enjoyed my first Chicago-style hot dog.

February: Made pasta from scratch for the first time. A rolling-pin played substitute for a proper drying rack. Fresh pasta is much tastier than the stuff you buy at the store. Ravioli are on my list to try next.

March: With the arrival of the endless supply of girl scout cookies purchased earlier in the year, little room was left for any baking. However, my rediscovery of the Dutch Baby at the Original Pancake House was glorious.

April: Harvesting carrots of the winter season was thrilling but the carrot size was a little disappointing. I have so much more respect for the farmers who sell carrots at the market.

Alton BrownJamBirthday Pancakes

May: Attended the Cooking for Solutions at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (highly recommend the event) with my wonderful mom. At the event we had the opportunity to go to the book signing of one of my cooking idols, Alton Brown.

June: My first batch of cucumbers became ready for pickling. The results were varied. I made the mistake of adding some sugar to one batch and was not happy to discover I’d essentially made bread and butter pickles.

July: My family jammed together. By that I mean we made a ton of jam together. The volume was somewhere around a gallon (maybe two). Flavors included peach, apricot and apricot-pineapple (the family favorite).

August: Enjoyed some amazing food at Outside Lands. However, the food highlight of the month was cake batter pancakes for my birthday.

Baby shower cookiesThanksgiving dinnerHoliday Party

September: Had fun making sugar cookies for a baby shower in duck and moon shapes.

October: Devoured an incredible surprise cake at Simply Hired. The chocolate was drool worthy. Thank you Simply Hired!

November: Thanksgiving was of course the food highlight. Found an awesome recipe for butternut squash soup that cuts the time down over normal soup (no squash roasting). My family also enjoyed the two giant loaves of bread that I picked up from Tartine. The olive bread was a treat.

December: Hosted a holiday gathering. Treats included a hot chocolate station with homemade peppermint marshmallows and star-shaped plain marshmallows, nutella fudge, the softest sugar cookies I’ve ever made (thanks Pinterest) and cookie dough pops. I’ve pinned all of the holiday recipes to my  Sweet Treats Pinterest Board.