Tag Archives: playing with your food

The Bee’s Knees Marbled PB Buckeyes

Bees & honey = a perfect pair. Peanut & chocolate = a match made in heaven. Put them together and what do you get? Chocolate peanut butter candy bliss.

Bee's Knees PB Buckeyes - Inside NanaBread's Head

Have you tried Peanut Butter & Co peanut butter yet? It’s The Bee’s Knees – quite literally. Their honey-infused peanut butter is a dream come true for peanut butter lovers like me who’ve been stirring honey into peanut butter since birth, or shortly thereafter. As a child, peanut butter was my go-to snack. Mom could get me to do just about anything for a jar of peanut butter. Hand me a jar and a spoon, and I would fold laundry or mop floors like it was my job. Flash forward to adult me, and I’m still stirring honey into peanut butter for a quick snack. That is until Peanut Butter & Co did it for me with The Bee’s Knees. As a member of the PB&CO Yum Squad, I accepted their challenge to play with my food and create a recipe to show off their Bee’s Knees peanut butter. They sent me two jars to play with (yum and thank you) and here’s what I did.

NanaBread’s Marbled Chocolate & Peanut Butter Buckeyes:
1 cup Bee’s Knees honey peanut butter
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted & divided (see below)
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill almond meal
1/2 cup Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
2 cups (12 ozs) chocolate chips (I used semisweet)
3 tablespoons paraffin (Gulf Wax), grated (optional)
salted, roasted peanuts for garnish

In a stand mixer, combine peanut butter, softened butter, vanilla, salt, 2 cups of the powdered sugar (setting aside 1/2 cup for later) and the almond meal. Blend on low speed until combined, then turn to medium speed and mix for 2 minutes until smooth. The dough should be the texture of soft play dough. Turn the mixture out onto a cutting board or sheet of parchment and divide it in half.

Gently knead the additional 1/2 cup of powdered sugar into half of the candy mixture until combined and smooth. For the other half, gently knead in the 1/2 cup of cocoa powder. Roll the chocolate dough into a square roughly 1/4″ thick. Roll the peanut butter dough into the same size square, then lay it on top of the chocolate square to form two layers of dough. Cut the square in half, forming two rectangles and stack them on top of each other, creating a rectangle four layers deep. Cut the rectangle into 1″ squares. Roll each piece into a ball and set aside on a parchment lined baking sheet. Rolling the dough into balls with your hands will create a pretty marbled effect. Once all the dough is rolled into balls, pop the baking sheet into the freezer so the buckeyes can firm up.

While the candy is chilling, melt the chocolate chips over a double boiler. If you don’t have one, simply place a metal mixing bowl over a saucepan with 3-4″ boiling water over medium heat. Once it starts to melt, whisk the chocolate until smooth. Add the grated paraffin (which helps set the chocolate so it doesn’t melt as easily when you pick it up) and whisk again until smooth. Dip frozen buckeyes into the melted chocolate, covering completely, and set them back onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Once dipped, place them in the refrigerator to firm up. Scrape the remaining melted chocolate into a plastic zip-style food bag and twist it to work the chocolate into one corner of the bag.

To garnish, snip the tip off the corner of the bag and pipe a spiral of melted chocolate on top of each buckeye. Top with a salted roasted peanut, and pop the sheet back into the fridge to set. Finished buckeyes should be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, and should keep for up to one month.

Bee's Knees PB BonBons - CloseUp of Cut Candy

Besides being fabulously sweet & slightly salty, these peanut butter buckeyes are fun to make. I always tell people I love to play with my food, so I think my favorite part of this recipe was playing with the dough to make these candy bees (8 in all). As I said, the candy mixture is the texture of play dough, and I couldn’t resist. I also couldn’t stop giggling over them and the personality they had.

Bee's Knees PB BonBons - Bee CloseUp

I’m still playing with my Bee’s Knees peanut butter. My attempt at chocolate chip pancakes wasn’t a complete failure, but wasn’t what I’d hoped for. What did work was the peanut butter & honey topping. To make, combine 2 tablespoons of Bee’s Knees peanut butter with 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, and microwave for 30-45 seconds until it is melted. Add 4 tablespoons of your favorite honey and whisk until smooth. Pour over your favorite pancake recipe and voilà! It’s a great way to enjoy that fabulous peanut butter & honey combo and add a little protein to your breakfast routine. It’s so good! If you don’t believe me, ask these guys.

Oops… looks like that little guy might not have gotten any. {burp!}

Bee's Knees Bees & Pancakes Collage - Inside NanaBread's Head

NOTE: As a member of Peanut Butter & Company’s Yum Squad, I am occasionally sent jars of peanut butter and/or peanut butter products to play with. No further compensation is received, and all opinions are my own.

PB&Co Bee's Knees Peanut Butter

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My Halloween “To Do” List

October is around the corner, kids. Right around the corner. Practically peeking out at us. And because fall is my favorite season and because I’m a nut for all things Halloween, I thought I’d share a few things on my ‘to do’ list this year.

A new twist on candied apples from Parents Magazine 2010

How cute are these? Taken from the pages of Parents Magazine in 2010, My Baby shared this with me. I’ve been dying to make them all year. All I need is a basket of apples, a bag of candies and a weekend with the grandkids. That little green apple guy with the marshmallow top hat just knocks my socks off.

Dracula Mice? Oh yeah. I'm in!

We found these little guys at a Christmas Market in Ludwigsburg, Germany last year. The pear mice are adorable, but those vampire mice? They would be perfect for Halloween. They’re made with fresh apples or pears, chocolate coating, royal frosting and M&Ms. I’d skip the sticks and add licorice tails.

These are the most delicious spiders you'll ever eat.

I love these brownie spiders. They are a snap to make and they are oh so delicious. Using your favorite brownie recipe or mix, bake the brownies as directed. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool completely. Using a round cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out 6-8 spider bodies. Using a spoon, remove a scoop of brownie from the pan and roll it in the palm of your hand to form a small ball for the head. Grab some M&Ms for the eyes and a tube of black Wilton sparkle gel from the cake decorating section of your grocery store. To serve, I like to paint a spider web on each plate with black sparkle gel. Place the round body section just off center in the middle of the plate. Place the head right next to the body. Using sparkle gel, put a small dab on the back of each M&M and stick them to the spider’s face. Finish with a dot of sparkle gel in the center of each eyeball. Top with a scoop of ice cream and your favorite sauce.

What would Halloween be without a few creepy treats?

This is another easy one. Just melt white chocolate candy coating and pour it into a plastic zip bag. Snip one corner of the bag off and pipe onto pretzels. Place an M&M in the center of each and allow them to cool until hardened. Using a small tube of red decorating gel (Wilton has a line found in most grocery stores), pipe onto eyeballs so that some are blood-shot. A small dot of black decorating gel finishes the look. Allow the gel to dry to the touch without your finger sticking to it, then you can bag them and tie them with a ribbon for gifts.

I want my Mummy!

I love these little guys. If you’re a multi-tasker, you can whip out a batch of these while you’re making your blood-shot eyeballs. All you need is a package of the large rod pretzels, a bag or two of white chocolate candy coating, and black decorating gel. Simply melt the candy coating and pour it into a deep container like a quart mason jar or a heavy drinking glass. Dip each pretzel rod into the melted candy coating, allowing the excess to drip off. Place them onto a sheet of waxed paper. Allow them to cool until they are firm to the touch. Melt more of the white chocolate candy coating and pour it into a plastic zip bag. Cut off the tip, and moving from side to side horizontally pipe the “stripes” onto the mummies to give them that ‘bandaged’ look. You don’t need to be perfect here. Having some a little off kilter adds to the fun. Once they’ve started to firm up again, lift each pretzel by the uncoated end and use a butter knife to scrape off any candy coating ‘strings’ from the sides. Eyes and mouths are created with black decorating gel. These little mummies look great when you stand them up in a container. Tip: put a cup of raw rice in the bottom of your container and they’ll stand upright. These make a great centerpiece for a Halloween party.

Who could resist these adorable Halloween treats?

Who says adults can’t play with their food? Not me. Not ever. And October is the perfect time to do it with enthusiasm. Care to join me?

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Playing With Your Food, Recipe #2: Mom’s World Famous Piggy Buns

Mom's Famous Whole Wheat Piggy Buns

Sorry I’ve been absent from the blogging universe this week. My mother and two of my sisters came down to visit. It’s not that I wasn’t thinking of you, it’s just that we were busy hitting every antique shop in a 50 mile radius, stuffing ourselves at various local restaurants, and baking out the wazoo. Which brings me, in a round about way, to the first recipe from our fabulous week I want to share with you. Remember those photos I posted from our annual Hoegarden Weekend in March? One photo featured the fabulously cute piggy buns our mother made for pulled pork sandwiches. They were truly adorable until the barbecue sauce started pouring from their eyes. Then it got a little Zombieland on us. Then we laughed hysterically and ate them anyway. With gusto. This week, mom allowed me to photograph a tutorial so you can make these precious piggies in your own home. Thanks for sharing, Mom. Now, let’s make piggies!

Here’s what you’ll need:
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 packages of rapid rise instant yeast (or 1/2 teaspoon)
1 Tablespoon of gluten powder
1/4 cup of malted milk powder
1 cup of whole wheat flour
4 to 5 cups of bread flour, divided
1/4 cup of butter (1/2 a stick), softened
1 egg, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups warm tap water

Start by combining the sugar, salt, yeast, gluten, malted milk powder, whole wheat flour and 3 cups of bread flour in a large mixing bowl. I used my big KitchenAid mixer, since it’s got a big deep bowl and a bread hook. (I prefer to make the mixer do all the work. I’m lazy like that.) Using the mixer paddle, mix the dry ingredients on low speed just until combined. Add the butter, egg and water; beat on low speed until combined. Stop the mixer, scrape the sides of the bowl, and continue beating on medium speed for 5 minutes. It will be sticky.

After 5 minutes, stop the mixer and remove the paddle attachment. Replace it with the dough hook, turn mixer to low speed, and gradually add additional bread flour until the dough forms into a soft ball. Allow the mixer and dough hook to knead the dough at low speed for an additional 8-10 minutes.

Lightly flour your work surface. Scrape the dough out onto the floured surface, and gently knead the dough into a smooth, gorgeous dough ball.

Spray a large mixing bowl with cooking spray (or butter/oil it lightly) and place your dough ball in the center. Lightly spray or oil the surface of your dough ball. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean, dry towel and set aside to let it rise until doubled in size (approximately one hour).

Once your dough ball has doubled, remove the plastic wrap and using your fingertips, gently punch down the dough.

Dump it onto a lightly floured work surface and divide the dough into 24 pieces.


Tip: we used a bench scraper to divide it in half, then each half into half, etc. (like those old Faberge shampoo commercials, if you’re old enough to remember them – you’ll tell 2 friends, and they’ll tell 2 friends…).

Once you have 24 equal pieces, form each piece into a round ball.

Using a lightly floured rolling pin, flatten each ball into about a 1/4″ thick circle.

Place the circles onto baking sheets, about 1/2″ to 1″ apart. I used large insulated cookie sheets with non-stick silicone mats. I love those silicone mats. Best thing since slice bread, I think.

Now here’s the fun part: using a biscuit cutter approximately 1 1/2″ to 2″ in diameter and a fat wooden skewer, a chopstick, or a round wooden spoon handle, start to create your piggy faces. Feel free to unleash your inner arteest.

Step One: form the nose by pressing the cutter just below the imaginary center line in a full circle halfway into the dough (don’t cut all the way through!).

Step Two: turning the cutter at a 45 degree angle, cut a half circle creating a piggy smile. Pigs are so much cuter when they’re friendly, don’t you think?

Step Three: holding the cutter at a 45 degree angle, cut in each ear.

Step Four: using a fat skewer, chop stick, or the round handle of a wooden spoon, gently press in two eyes and two holes to form the snout.

If you’re wondering if you could make these 3-D, the answer is YES! Big Sis made one just to see how it would turn out. It takes a little more work to shape the dough, and you have to wet it a little to make it stick, but you can make a 3-D snout and ears for your piggy. Pretty cute, huh? Pays to be an art major… metaphorically speaking, of course.

Allow your precious piggy buns to rise an additional 15-20 minutes while your oven pre-heats to 375 degrees. You want your piggies to be portly… plump… chubby… uh, big-boned… healthy? You get the picture.

Bake one tray at a time for approximately 15-20 minutes or until your piggy buns start to turn a light, beautiful brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Did I mention these smell heavenly when they’re baking?

Once they are completely cooled, you can store them in freezer bags or containers in your refrigerator or freezer. Of course, there’s no hard and fast rule on how long they have to cool before you eat one. I can neither confirm nor deny that one of these bad boys died violently right after coming out of the oven.

But he was delicious.

These little piggy buns are cute and versatile. They make fabulous French toast, and are yummy toasted on a griddle and slathered with butter and honey or jam for breakfast. They’d make cute ham sandwiches this Easter. They make excellent pulled pork sandwich buns, as I’ve said before. And tonight, the Complete Package and I are making Squealer Burgers with them for dinner. Ever had a squealer? It’s easy. You just grind bacon into your hamburger meat, then shape and cook them like any other burger (although I don’t recommend medium rare here). Mmmm….juicy, smoky, moist. And perfect on a piggy bun.

However you choose to consume them, these little piggies are sure to be a hit. Thanks for sharing your recipe, Mom. You’re a baking rock star. Stay tuned, kids…later this week I’ll be sharing The Complete Package’s Steak Sandwiches with soy ginger mayo (to…die…for) and Big Sis’s gorgeous Rainbow Cupcakes. Better break out the yoga pants and Diet Coke right now because you’re going to want to make all of these. Fo’ shizzle.

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Playing With Your Food, Recipe #1: Zesty Lemon-Garlic Hummus

It's okay to play with your food! Start by making hummus. You can do it!

Some recipes are so forgiving and fun, making them is more like playing with your food than following a recipe. They almost beg for experimentation. Once you get the basic formula down, you can free-style and add whatever you like. For me, hummus is one of those foods. It’s quick, easy and delicious and it’s actually good for you (but don’t let that turn you off). I make this in my food processor, but if you don’t have one you can use a blender. You’ll just have to stop more often and scrape down the sides as you go. Here’s how I like to do it.

The basic “starter” recipe:
2 cans (15-ozs. each) garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chickpeas)
½ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic salt
2 tablespoons of really good extra virgin olive oil

In a food processor, dump in one whole can of garbanzos, juice and all; drain the other can and dump the drained beans into the processor. Add the tahini paste (a required element – trust me), the salt and garlic salt, and the olive oil. Turn on the food processor and blend until the mixture is creamy and smooth. Don’t remove it from the food processor just yet. Now it’s time to play with your food.

I like my hummus chock full of lemon, garlic and cayenne pepper, so at this stage I add 2-3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice, the zest of one lemon, an additional teaspoon of garlic salt and ¼ teaspoon of cayenne powder. I give it another minute in the processor to blend, and then give it a taste. I add more lemon or salt or cayenne to my liking until I think it’s perfect. Here’s a hint about the cayenne powder – it will get a little stronger as it sits, so don’t add too much. You can always sprinkle a little more on top just before serving. I also like to add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over the top.

While you’re playing with hummus,
you could also add any of the following:

Extra lemon zest
chopped Kalamata olives
flat-leaf Italian parsley
coarsely ground black pepper
roasted red peppers
sun-dried tomatoes
pesto

Play around with ways to serve it. Try it on:
pita bread
toasted flour tortilla wedges (my favorite)
saltine crackers
carrot sticks
as a sandwich filling
on those toasted rye crisps I’m always stealing from the Gardetto’s bag

My point is to start with the basic recipe and then let your imagination run wild. Hummus is inexpensive and easy to make, so why not experiment and try new things? It’s also really yummy. You can eat it as a snack, as a side dish, or as your main meal. I had a bowl with toasted tortilla wedges for lunch today (pictured), and it was fabulous. You need to try it very soon. Don’t be intimidated – just get in there and be creative. Just because we’re grown-ups doesn’t mean we can’t color outside the lines from time to time. Be a rebel, experiment often, and don’t be afraid to play with your food!

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