My Foray Into Food Storage

A regular gal learning about Food Storage, Home Cooking, Canning, Gardening, and more!


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Almond Joy Oatmeal Cookies

Before I begin, here’s a quick reminder to enter my 2nd April giveaway here.  Simply visit Emergency Essentials’ website, find something you’d like to try, visit this post, and tell me what it is.  It’s a Quick, Simple, and FREE entry!

 

Yesterday, as I was preparing to go to a surprise birthday party for a dear friend, I was trying to think of some yummy treats to bring along with me.  I planned to bring some homemade artisan crackers to serve with goat cheese and vanilla pear jam (click here to learn how easy it is to make these delicious crackers!), but I wanted to bring something sweet like a cookie.

 

Yummy homemade crackers served with Vanilla Pear Jam over goat cheese.  YUM!

Yummy homemade crackers served with Vanilla Pear Jam over goat cheese. YUM!

 

I took a look in my baking cupboard and found that I was running out of chocolate chips.  Not too great for a so called “food storage expert,” huh?  I took a quick inventory of what I had in my baking cupboard and found that I had a 1/4 full bag of coconut and some almonds in addition to the chocolate chips.

 

Then, I had a burst of inspiration: Almond Joy Cookies!  Of course, I had never made Almond Joy cookies, and I didn’t have a recipe for them, but I thought I could adapt my favorite chocolate chip oatmeal cookie recipe and come up with something respectable.  So, I decided to go for it.  I mean, what could go wrong?  Actually, a lot could go wrong, but worst case I could bring the crackers, right?

 

Here’s the recipe I created.  Just so you know, I didn’t pull this recipe out of a hat.  I started with a good oatmeal cookie recipe and adjusted some of the ingredients to make them more like an “Almond Joy” candy bar.  They turned out pretty yummy, if I do say so myself.  They were also a hit at the party, so I think this recipe is a keeper.

 

So yummy!

So yummy!

 

Almond Joy Oatmeal Cookies

Adapted from Nestle’s Choc Oat Chip Cookie recipe (found here)

 

1 cup of salted butter, softened

1 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed (I used 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon molasses.  Click here to learn how to make your own brown sugar.)

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cup flour

1 1/3 cup sweetened coconut

1 1/3 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped almonds

2 cups oatmeal (I prefer old-fashioned oats)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Mix together softened butter and brown sugar (or granulated sugar and molasses).  Add eggs and mix until well combined.  Next, add the milk, vanilla, and almond extract and mix well.  Stir in baking soda and salt, then add the flour and mix well.  Add coconut, chocolate chips, and chopped almonds and stir to combine.  Finally, add the oatmeal and mix until all ingredients are distributed pretty evenly throughout the dough.

 

Drop cookies onto a cookie sheet by tablespoons.  (My cookies were formed using a 2 tablespoon scoop.)  Place cookie sheet in preheated oven and bake for 6-12 minutes (depending on size of the cookie).   Rotate cookie sheet halfway through bake time.  When done, remove from oven and put cookies on a cooling rack.  Enjoy!

 

Here’s my photo step-by-step.  (I didn’t include as many pictures as I normally do, because I was more concerned about getting the recipe “right” than taking pictures.  Sorry!)

 

First, I put 2 sticks of salted butter into my mixer along with 1 1/4 cups of granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon molasses.  Then, I turned the mixer to medium and let it go until they were well incorporated.

First, I put 2 sticks of salted butter into my mixer along with 1 1/4 cups of granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon molasses. Then, I turned the mixer to medium and let it go until they were well incorporated.

 

I scraped down the sides of my bowl, then added the milk, vanilla, and almond extract.

Next, I added the eggs and mixed well.  Then, I scraped down the sides of my bowl, then added the milk, vanilla, and almond extract.

 

After mixing the ingredients together, the texture was quite wet.  But that's how it should be!

After mixing the ingredients together, the texture was quite wet. But that’s how it should be!

 

Next, I added the salt and baking soda to the mixer and turned it on medium for about 30 seconds to ensure that they were well incorporated into the cookie dough.

Next, I added the salt and baking soda to the mixer and turned it on medium for about 30 seconds to ensure that they were well incorporated into the cookie dough.

 

Then came the flour.  Again, I mixed it on low to ensure the flour was well incorporated.

I scraped the sides of the bowl, then added the flour. Again, I mixed it on low to ensure the flour was well incorporated.

 

Then came the fun part!  I added the sweetened coconut, chocolate chips, and chopped almonds and mixed well.

Then came the fun part! I added the sweetened coconut, chocolate chips, and chopped almonds and mixed well.

 

Until it looked like this.  Then, I added the oatmeal and let the mixer go for a minute or so to ensure all the ingredients were evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Until it looked like this. Then, I added the oatmeal and let the mixer go for a minute or so to ensure all the ingredients were evenly distributed throughout the dough.

 

The cookie dough was ready to go!  I used my 2 tablespoon scoop to measure the dough and put it on an ungreased cookie sheet.

The cookie dough was ready to go! I used my 2 tablespoon scoop to measure the dough and put it onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

 

I almost forgot to take a picture of this!  I put the cookies in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for a little more than 10 minutes (rotating the cookie sheet once during baking).

I almost forgot to take a picture of this! I put the cookies in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for a little more than 10 minutes (rotating the cookie sheet once during baking).

 

When they were done, I transferred the cookies to a cooling rack.

When they were done, I transferred the cookies to a cooling rack.

 

And Voila!  They were done!

And Voila! They were done!

 

What do you think about that?  The cookies were soft and yummy with crisp exteriors.  The perfect party cookie (as long as no one is allergic to the ingredients)!

 

Think you might make these or your own candy bar inspired cookies?


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Knock-Off Recipe Test: Homemade Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup – Oh Boy!

Wahoo!  This is my 100th post!  I’ve been quite prolific, haven’t I?  Help me celebrate by entering my April giveaway here.

 

My son, A.J., really wanted some ice cream today, but the only ice cream I’d let him have is just plain old vanilla (and no sugar added, too).  He really, really wanted to smother it with some Hershey’s chocolate syrup.  I didn’t have any.  I buy it occasionally (maybe once or twice a year), and when it’s gone, it’s gone.  There’s no telling when I’ll buy it again.  So it’s interesting that he would latch onto the idea of Hershey’s syrup like a dog with a stick.

 

Ice cream with knock-off Hershey's chocolate syrup.

Ice cream with knock-off Hershey’s chocolate syrup.

 

I could have told him, “Tough luck, sweetheart,” but I didn’t.  I decided to be “nice” mom today and turned to my friend, Google, to find a knock-off recipe online.  I found one on food.com (here) and tried it out.  I followed the recipe exactly as written, so I’m not going to post it here.  Feel free to follow the link if you have a hankering for chocolate syrup.

 

It took less than 10 minutes from start to finish, so it was super simple to make.  I was a bit worried after making the syrup, because it was a lot thinner than Hershey’s syrup from the store.  (Next time I’ll simmer it a little longer to let it thicken up.)  But, once I tasted it, I could not tell one lick of difference between it and the original.  I give it an A+ for flavor and a B for similarity in consistency. 

 

Knock-off Hershey's Chocolate Syrup, freshly made.

Knock-off Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup, freshly made.

 

Plus, it’s much less expensive than the Hershey’s syrup I buy at the store which goes for about $3 for a 24 ounce bottle.  It made about 12 ounces of syrup and cost me a grand total of 66 cents!  42 cents for the cocoa, 16 cents for the sugar, 7 cents for the vanilla, and less than 1 cent for both the salt and the water.  So, it costs me $1.32 for 24 ounces of the homemade knock-off Hershey’s syrup.  I’m pretty happy about that!  I can save money AND get my chocolate fix.  Win-win!

 

Sound like something you want to make?   Take a gander at my photo step-by-step to learn how.

 

 

As always, I assembled my ingredients.

As always, I assembled my ingredients.  As one who bakes regularly, I have everything on hand all the time.  Good news for my son who really, really wanted Hershey’s syrup, huh?

 

I measured the water, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt and put them in a saucepan.

I measured the water, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt and put them in a saucepan.

 

I turned the heat on medium-high and began to whisk the ingredients together.

I turned the heat on medium-high and began to whisk the ingredients together.

 

It took a couple of minutes, but soon enough it was smooth.

It took a couple of minutes, but soon enough it was smooth, so I switched to a wooden spoon.

 

As the mixture heated through and as I stirred, the foamy bubbles on top began to disappear.

As the mixture heated through and as I stirred, the foamy bubbles on top began to disappear.

 

Shortly thereafter, the mixture began to boil.  I turned the heat down to medium, so it wouldn't boil over.  I stirred the boiling mixture for one minute.  Then, I turned off the heat.

Shortly thereafter, the mixture began to boil. I turned the heat down to medium, so it wouldn’t boil over. I stirred the boiling mixture for one minute. Then, I turned off the heat.

 

It's beginning to look like chocolate syrup, isn't it?  I let the mixture cool for a few minutes.

It’s beginning to look like chocolate syrup, isn’t it? I let the mixture cool for a few minutes.

 

Finally, I added the real vanilla extract and stirred it into the syrup.

Finally, I added the real vanilla extract and stirred it into the syrup.

 

It's smooth and glossy and smelled so YUMMY!

It’s smooth and glossy and smelled so YUMMY!

 

So yummy, in fact, that I had a little ice cream too!

So yummy, in fact, that I had a little ice cream too!

 

The syrup was still a little warm, so the ice cream started to melt.  But it was OH SO GOOD!

The syrup was still a little warm, so the ice cream started to melt. But it was OH SO GOOD!

 

I put the rest of the syrup into a Mason jar with a lid.  I'm storing it in my fridge, but, with four sons, I don't think it will last long.  It's a good thing it didn't cost me very much money.

I put the rest of the syrup into a Mason jar with a lid. I’m storing it in my fridge, but, with four sons, I don’t think it will last long. It’s a good thing it didn’t cost me very much money.

 

One thing I really loved about making this syrup is that it didn’t require any special equipment.  Just a spoon, a pan, a measuring cup, and a measuring spoon.  Very few dirty dishes + delicious chocolate = happy me.

 

After seeing how easy this is, will you make it?

 

 


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Everything But The Kitchen Sink… Brownies?

Brownies, my preferred method of chocolate consumption.  And these are brownies one better, because they come with a surprise!  A HEAVENLY, SALTY, CRUNCHY SURPRISE!  Everything but the kitchen sink brownies were born out of my desire to save money and to prevent food waste, but I keep making them, because I LOVE them!

I tell myself that not only is it okay to make these, but I *MUST* make these brownies, because when I throw away food, it’s like throwing away money, right? I wouldn’t purposely throw away a $5 bill, would I?  Of course not!  So, really, I’m just being fiscally responsible and eco-friendly.  That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Everything But The Kitchen Sink Brownies

Everything But The Kitchen Sink Brownies

Honestly, I cannot remember how many times I’ve thrown away little bits of leftover food, but it’s more often than I would like.  Either I didn’t know what to do with it, or the item was getting old, stale, etc.  These brownies may not solve all your food waste issues, but this helpful, SCRUMPTIOUS way of using those little bits of leftover food certainly helps. It’s not hard to do, and it’s only limited by your imagination and the leftover items in your pantry.

DSCN5791

I started with my most favorite brownie mix of all time, Ghiradelli. I buy it at Costco where it is just under $11 for 6 batches of brownies.

My friend, Karen, said that my brownies are the best brownies she’s ever had.  I don’t know if I’d go that far, but this mix is really good.  She bought the mix and made them, but she said hers didn’t taste the same.  Then I realized I did not tell her about one adjustment I’ve made in the recipe.  I use Olive Oil.  It’s better for my cholesterol, and it makes these taste extra yum!

Now, for the “how to.”  I started with these ingredients:

Olive oil makes all the difference!

Olive oil makes all the difference!

DSCN5793

Ghiradelli Brownie Mix, Ghiradelli 60% Cacao Chocolate Chips, and Pretzels

I mixed a double batch of brownies according to the instructions on the box (eggs, olive oil, and water), then I put one-half of the mixture in a pan.  (My son, Michael, wanted regular brownies.)  Next, I gently folded some crushed some mini pretzel rods and chopped up Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (Halloween leftovers) into the mix.

Just some mini pretzel rods.

Put your mini pretzel rods (or potato chips, or anything else that suits your fancy) into a small bag.

Slightly crushed with a can.

Slightly crush them with a can, then fold them into your brownie mix (or cookie dough or muffin batter).

I spread the yummy “everything but the kitchen sink” brownie mix in a pan and topped it with my other Ghiradelli favorite, 60% cacao chocolate chips.  Talk about decadent!  They went into the oven for 45 minutes at 300 degrees (on convect) and came out in all their warm, gooey glory.

Regular Brownies

Regular Brownies for Michael

My friend and guest blogger, Brooke, will be getting some of these later today as a “Thank You!”  Although I’m tempted to keep them all, that would be very bad, because I would eat only brownies for the next two days.  So, to preserve my waistline and to show a little friend-love, Brooke will be enjoying these at her home.  And she doesn’t have to share them unless she wants to!

Everything But The Kitchen Sink Brownies

Everything But The Kitchen Sink Brownies for Brooke and me!

Can brownies solve the food waste problem in America?  Probably not, but it’s a start!

What do you do to help prevent food waste?