A Week (or two) in Food Exploits

Feeling the need, obviously, to post gratuitous pictures of food.  Why?  Because we all enjoy looking at it, that’s why there’s such a thing as ‘food porn’.  At the very least, I like to browse pictures of food even if it tortures me  because I don’t get to join in eating it.  I enjoy it because of what the pictures may inspire in me: cooking ideas, food styling ideas, my imaginings of what the pictured food would taste like, and ultimately, it inspires me to want to cook.  Like any creative outlet, that’s a good thing when it inspires you into action.

So here are some of my cooking exploits (only snacks and sweets) from the past two weeks.
(Note: Although I would love to have better shots of my food, I don’t always have the best situations to create it.  Many of these pictures are taken with a camera phone and lighting isn’t always ideal.  At the very least, I do attempt to style it as nicely as possible… since you also eat with your eyes and other senses.  And if you know me, I love food aesthetics as much as I do eating it 😛 .)

Caramel dip with local New England apples
breakfast caramel apple dip

All right, so there wasn’t actually much cooking involved in this since I didn’t make the caramel dip.  I bought it from Whole Foods (a grocery market chain that likes to think of itself as organic), and it’s pretty darn good.  I had gotten it to pair with birthday cake, but a little goes a long way and it still was in my fridge.  (Believe me, I’m not complaining.)  It is enriched with butter and cream, no doubt.  Luckily, it pairs well with apples, too.  Eating it this way will trick me into believing I’m eating healthy.

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Savory tomato zucchini (both from my CSA) tart
Potluck apps 9.14.13

Pictured above., I used frozen puff pastry (it’s a wonderful, time-saving creation) and slathered it with a herbed cheese spread (much like one might slather marinara sauce on a pizza).  I pre-sauteed zucchini and tomato slices and layered it on top.  A quick stay in the freezer to set before popping it into a piping hot oven, then when the edges are golden in color some 15 or so minutes later… Voilà!

This is my simple, go-to food idea when needing to cook something for others.  You can get creative and top the puff pastry with anything really (sweet or savory or a combination).  I typically will keep a package of puff pastry in the freezer for whenever the occasion arises.

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Blueberry pancake cake
Blueberry pancake cake

The inspiration for this came from Huffington Post’s Taste section.  Here is the recipe for this Crock-pot Blueberry Pancake Cake.  Your welcome, and I know!  One, it’s made in a crock-pot, which makes it sound incredibly easy and like it requires minimal effort.  Which are both true.  Two, pancake cake?  Was that a typo?  No, it wasn’t.  It’s basically a cake in likeness, but made out of pancake batter (you can use any pancake mix you want).  Which is all GREAT!

I happened to have some pancake mix I made from scratch a while back, and needed to use up.  It had some brown sugar already in it and cornmeal, along with the basic flour, baking powder and salt (if you’d like to make your own pancake mix, just look up any pancake recipe and combine only the dry ingredients; set it aside with the measurements for wet ingredients and instructions for later.)  I mixed it with milk, and didn’t have an egg so I used half of a banana mashed up, then followed the rest of the instructions.  Some time later, it was ready in the crock-pot, already filling the air with the aroma of banana and sweetness.  I peeled it off the parchment paper, served it with a sprinkling of agave nectar and raw sugar.  And my guests and I were very pleasantly surprised by this recipe.  TOTALLY will make again with other flavor combos!

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Party favor treat bags
candy bag party favor 2

Again, this one is a bit of a stretch, since this also didn’t involve any cooking.  It’s one of my crafts, but it involved a food.  I made party favor treat bags for a child’s birthday party, and was debating whether I should make some sort of treat.  But not knowing how many people were in attendance and people having different tastes and allergies, there’s always the familiar candy.  I had a lot of fun finding cute, kid-friendly pictures, then printed it onto sticker paper.  I cut it out and allowed for write-in space to personalize it.  Then attach to plain, cellophane treat bags!  Appreciated by adults and children alike 🙂 .

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Nut covered chocolate truffles
Choco truffles

These babies were a happy accident… or at least, I didn’t have the intention of making them, they were just a by product from another cooking project (chocolate covered Newman-O’s, which are much like Oreos; I love the mint flavor!).  So I wanted to make something, but didn’t really want to get caught up in a huge cooking ordeal with lots of ingredients and mess.  I had Newman-O’s and I had semi-sweet chocolate chips.  I thought why not do a faux cooking project and make chocolate covered Newman-O’s?  I say faux cooking because I only altered the state of store bought items (meaning: nothing I made).  I melted chocolate chips and dipped cookies into that fluid mixture, the end product being something improved 🙂 .

What to do with leftover melted chocolate?  Make truffles or chocolate sauce to go on top of ice cream or other dessert.  The truffles are made from this leftover melted chocolate.  Added to that is half & half, butter, and almond extract.  I left that in the fridge overnight.  Then took two teaspoons to dig up some balls of chocolate, rolled it in the crushed almonds, and finished rounding it out into balls lightly in my hands.  After making some handfuls, I’d pop them (and the entire chocolate mixture) in the fridge so they wouldn’t soften and flatten out on the bottom from sitting on a tray.  When I was done with all of the chocolate, I popped them into the fridge for a quick chill before presenting and eating.  And that’s that, a happy and yummy accident!

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