Oreo Bars

Oreo, marshmallow, white chocolate, and a whole lot of love. What could be better?

Well not much, let me tell you that. Maybe cat cuddles or a cheesy pasta. But these Oreo bars are pretty hard to compete with, and they are rather easy to make and surely a crowd pleaser.

To make these guys you need a package of Oreos (whatever flavor you want is fine, but don’t do the double stuff/mega stuff variety, that’ll be too much stuff), a package of mini marshmallows, and a handful of white chocolate chips. Oh yeah, and like 4 table spoons of butter.

To start, crush the entire package of Oreos. I did it in a plastic baggie and ended up with varying sizes of Oreo crumbs, which actually worked to my advantage. If that’s not your kind of thing, you can throw them in the food processor until the Oreos are crushed to your heart’s content.

Set the Oreos aside and place the mini marshmallows in a large microwave-safe bowl.

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Oh, and add the butter. And then put them in the microwave about for 45 second intervals until the marshmallows appear puffed and the butter is melted.

Quickly mix the crushed Oreos and a handful of white chocolate chips into the marshmallows.

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Stir and stir and stir until things seem to be well mixed. Then stir some more.

Move the mixture to a prepared 9 by 13 pan (either parchment paper or butter to prevent sticky-ness), and let it set up for two or three hours before cutting and serving or packaging.

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If you want to package these bars to give them as a gift, place a piece of parchment paper between each layer, and enjoy the look of pure joy on your giftee’s face. They will love these, I promise.

With the texture of a Rice Krispie Treat, but the taste of the Oreo, these bars are sure to be a popular sweet treat.

Summer is Crazy

The worst part, and maybe the only bad part (in my opinion), of summer is the lack of organization and structure. Every single week throws something new at me, even if I am working two weeks in a row, I will be doing different things each week with a different schedule. Not to mention if I am not working I have other things to do, and again these things vary on a daily basis, even if it’s the same activity.

Because of this lack of structure I have become disconnected with the blog and been focusing more on maintaining my sanity and enjoying the time I have to read (even if it cuts into sleep). However I really want to change that. In order to do so, I will probably expand my range of topics that I focus on, more towards a lifestyle blog. I will still talk about food, but in addition to food and cooking, I will talk about books, beauty products, and experiences that I encounter while living out the rest of my summer.

I really enjoy makeup and beauty stuff, and I am getting more into skincare (the more my skin clears up the more excited I get about rubbing chemicals into it (oh, wait)), especially when it comes to sunscreen. I now have a  Birchbox subscription and am super excited about that, but at the same time I want to focus down my makeup collection to the tried and true holy grail items, so you can watch me struggle through that.

In addition to the makeup stuff I have more time to read books and articles about random stuff online, so I want to talk about that. I have several books sitting in the drawer next to my bed and I can’t wait to read them, but I have to finish the one I’m on before I can start the others. I am frustrated about this. I hope I can finish my current book (That Hideous Strength, oh man, I am in love with C.S. Lewis, guys) by the end of the week so I can move onto some other reads. I enjoy reading a lot and want to share my excitement with others, so hopefully you can enjoy it too.

And finally I get to do some really neat stuff this summer, like going to Colorado on a High Adventure. I cannot wait to talk about the stuff that I see and do, and maybe even food that I eat. I want to talk about it without feeling guilty because it isn’t about food.

I guess that’s why I am telling you this, not because I think that other people on the internet have no interest in what I want to talk about, but because I think people do. I want to say that even though there are more cupcakes and other fine foods to come, there will be a lot more variety than before. Also I won’t have a weekly word count to live up to so post lengths will vary. WOO-HOO FREEDOM!

What You Learn By Documentation

Documentation probably makes you think of maintaining boring records of sales and profits over the year or writing down what happened in your physics lab. It’s not an inherently bad word, but it does have some negative connotations for most people. As I have been blogging I take a lot of pictures of my food, whether I intend on actually sharing them or not. Because I have so many pictures of the food I cook, I have a lot of visual reminders of what I made several months back. I also would like to think that my pictures have improved.

Here are some examples.

I have become more comfortable with the camera and the settings to use if I want a really nice picture. I know that I should always shoot in as much natural light as I can manage, but that was really challenging over the winter when we had light for only a couple of hours after school got out. I have developed habits of presentation, and I always use the brown and tan plates to serve my food. It’s funny because we have other plates, but I don’t use them. These are just three examples, but really, look at any of my other posts, these are the only plates that I use.

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fish and chips

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Another thing that you notice when you can actually look back on all of your adventures via pictures, is how well you were able to cook things. You can’t taste the food through the pictures, but the pictures help you remember. Also the pictures do show some technique, like knife skills. I wasn’t terrible last fall, but I can now chop onion like there’s not tomorrow. And the pieces are more uniform. this applies to baking, as well. I have mentioned in a couple of my posts about chocolate chip cookies that they don’t always turn out the same, and we can see that this is true.

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Cookies

Finally, it’s fun to see the habits that I have formed as I have been cooking and taking pictures, like with the plates, or the way that I cut food in half to show the inside, it’s always at the same angle…

finished toad in the hole

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… Well kind of.

I’ve thinking a lot about how things have changed since September even thought it hasn’t been that long. I have over 8 gb of pictures of food from just this school year, and the newer they are, the better they look. But still, it’s a ton of pictures and even though there are not any people or cats in those pictures, they are full of memories, like the Lego cake or the Christmas cookies I shared with my Sunday school class.

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Good times, good food, good pictures, great lessons learned.

Planning

When you decide to change your diet for the better, or the worse I guess, it takes some planning and thinking to make sure that you actually make the changes that you want to make. This especially applies to Meat Free Mondays. Mostly because Mondays are really hard as it is, so you need to not have to make that many decisions in the moment. It’s best to figure it out ahead of time, even if it is Sunday night.

I really like to have my breakfast ready ahead of time, if it’s hummus, I portion it out and make sure that the pita chips are ready to go when I need it. If I do breakfast bites, I make them Sunday night and have them in their respective containers to be reheated and eaten in the morning on the drive to school. Since I’m not doing meat on Mondays, I made them with peppers and onion tonight so that I still have some good flavor without the sausage or bacon.

Then for lunch, since I’m not having hummus and pita chips for breakfast, that will be lunch. Along with a granola or nut bar and some juice. I eat lunch late, so I can come home and have a nice afternoon snack of an apple of something right away. Also water helps keep me full in the morning, lunch is so late and other than snacking there is nothing I can do (I could rant for a full blog post about the silliness of the lunch schedules at my school, but that’s for another day).

For dinner, I was thinking of doing a mushroom and green pepper calzone or personal pizza. I originally wanted to grill, but I think there might be some rain tomorrow night and it would just be easier to keep things indoors. I hope to saute the peppers and mushrooms just a little bit before I mix in some cheese and put it on or in the crust. The mushrooms are the “meat” and the peppers give it some kick. Also it lets me use a nice portabella I got at Newbo and the rest of the pepper that’s left over from the breakfast bites. See, planning is good, especially in regards to making sure to use all of the fresh produce.

That should be all there is. I am looking forward to my second Monday without meat. If you have any comments or suggestions, I would LOVE to hear them!

Meat Free?

Since I have returned from Ireland I have been doing a lot of thinking, which could be bad but is not. I have thought about the food that I eat, and where it comes from. To be honest, I don’t want to get into preaching about my own individual thoughts, so I won’t. Basically, I want to limit my meat intake (and eventually cut it out completely).

But as an Iowa, I have grown up on pork and beef as a regular part of my diet, so cutting these things out cold turkey seems sort of crazy, especially while I am still eating with my family (I’m going to do this on my own, I’m not forcing my parents into it). I can’t make it work logistically, I just don’t have enough experience cooking with meat substitutes as the main focus. I would die because of an overload of carbs coming from bread, pasta, and fruit; plus I’d probably end up eating a lot of fat.

My plan to conquer these issues that I know I will face, is to tackle a new challenge every two months. Here’s how it would go:

  • April and May: Eat no meat on Mondays (this page has some good inspiration)
  • June and July: No beef (this is the peak of grilling season so veggies and mushrooms will be my friends, also bratwurst (untill August))
  • August and September: No pork (I’ll have to find a bacon substitute)
  • October and November: No chicken (at least I can still have turkey on Thanksgiving)
  • December and January: No turkey (I’ll have to figure out what kind of sandwiches to make before the time comes)
  • February and March: No fish (The final thing to cut out, and it will probably be the hardest to do. I’ll just have to be super careful not to become reliant on fish in the months prior)

And that takes it around to make a whole year. I hope to do updates and talk about the challenges of cutting meat out, all the while learning how to make delicious meat-free foods.

To be honest, though, I’m really excited to try this, even if it doesn’t last. We as people of the modern world do not eat near enough vegetables, and that should really change. If I have no meat on my plate, my veggies will have more room. But you know, it’s also going to good for my health and stuff.

If you have any feedback or recomendations, comment! I would love to hear them!

Home Sweet Home

Last week was my spring break, and I went to Ireland with the band. We marched in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin and a band parade in Limerick the following day. We also played some chamber music in a couple of churches and got to do a visit to a high school in Belfast. The trip took a long time to plan and we had so many rehearsals leading up to our departure, but everything was entirely worth it. The super cool thing about it all was that it wasn’t just my high school band that went, it was a combination of the three high schools in the city district. The entire ensemble was just above 90 people and we had some other students and adults that were with us, so it was a big group.

The whole combination of band programs was actually pretty neat, I got to know a few people from the other schools and I’ll be able to see them when solo contest rolls around in two weeks (I’ll tell you about my fear for my solo later). We had a really strong mellophone sections with nine members, which is over twice what I’m used to (this year we had four, last year there were only three of us). The marching was also neat, even though the parade in Dublin felt like an eternity and there were thousands of people around. We met this little band from Germany that had some pretty cute trumpet players, but they spoke German and we don’t so that didn’t go over that well.

Anyway, the food was great. I love my some awesome potatoes so that was pretty easy to take care of. I had fish at least six times during the trip and that made me beyond happy. I know I have made it as a home cook because we were served salmon with a honey mustard sauce one night and I was all like, “I did that before it was cool!” I didn’t have any beef while I was there, but when we were on our way back from the airport I got a cheeseburger from McDonald’s (Shhhh, I won’t do it again, I promise). There were some really cute cafes around, too. One of the ones we went to in Dublin had these amazing sandwiches so we went back. The first time there I got a chicken, spinach, bacon sandwich and the second time I got and open-faced tuna melt. Both were delicious, but also the staff was pretty cute too (oh man, I’m objectifying men left and right today, I’m sorry).

I bought some tes for my father, and some chocolate, but other than that I don’t have anything that would really be edible that I brought back. I did get a couple of new hot pads though, so they will make their way into some pictures soon, hopefully. I’ll talk about the chocolate later, too, once I have eaten it all.

The trip was great, the people of Ireland (and Northern Ireland) were very hospitable, the scenery was beautiful, and the food was wonderful. I hope to someday return, but if not I’m glad that I was able to at least visit once.

Counting Calories

I’m a little burnt out on cooking right now, I haven’t found myself craving anything but a Wendy’s cheeseburger for last week or so (I am trying super hard to avoid fast food until spring break but I am ready to crack. I don’t even eat it often, but when I tell myself I can’t have it, I REALLY want it!). That’s caused me to not have much motivation to cook anything new, let alone take pictures of it and share it with y’all. So I am sorry, my next post I should be getting back on track with the whole cooking food thing, but you never know. Maybe I’ll go to Newbo tomorrow and blog about that. I dunno.

The fast food avoidance is not because I am counting calories, and it’s definitely not for Lent (sorry Lutherans and Catholics), But counting calories has come up a lot recently. On reddit these pictures were circulating the main pages as well as some of the food-specific ones. I think that they are a really good visual of calories, how some foods are super heavy calorie wise, while others aren’t (like the celery). If you didn’t follow that link, please take a second and go check it out quickly, I can wait(make sure you view the entire album, there’s a little button at the bottom of the first set that will load the rest for you).

And then today I was not doing what I needed to be during physics and NPR News linked to this story on Twitter and I just had to read it because the calorimetry (lol, calories) problems seemed so boring and technically kilocalories relates to Calorie counting. And in the video (yes, go read that article and WATCH THE VIDEO TOO) they did more of the math that I was supposed to be practicing, so maybe I wasn’t too off topic.

I think that it’s pretty interesting that things were as far off as they were, discrepancies like that are just too much to handle. As shown in the video, that had so much of an impact on his actual caloric intake, that it could easily throw someone who is trying to diet.

I don’t really know what point I’m trying to make, but I think it’s pretty interesting that things are as far off as they are. Just keep it in mind when you are trying to count calories, even though it’s kind of silly to worry about calories only and not about sodium or fat content. Also I wanted to share this interesting piece of the internet with you.