Caramel Macadamia Nut Rice Krispie Treats

Well these are decidedly NOT vegan and definitely NOT healthy.  But, they are oh so delicious and the husband was craving some Rice Krispie treats.  He so rarely asks for anything specific that I feel when he does, the request should be honored.

That’s a little bit of a lie.  He actually asked for “Rice Krispie treats with m&ms” and I thought…. “hm, can I make those a little fancier?”. The answer is yes, yes I can.  And I can include Macadamia nuts because, let’s face it, they’re the most delicious little things on earth.  Crunchy, tropical, buttery.  Yum!  So, I scoured the internet and found this Todd English gem for fancy Rice Krispie treats.  And maybe this time Iain didn’t ask for these specifically, but judging by how many he ate, I think next time he will.

Recipe from Epicurious

Caramel Macadamia Nut Rice Krispie Treats

  • 4 cups puffed-rice cereal, such as Rice Krispies
  • 1 cup salted, roasted macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped*
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
* I could only find raw Macadmia nuts.  So, these were quickly “roasted” in a frying pan with a little cooking spray and a sprinkle of salt.  Just heat until toasty-brown.

Butter 17- by 12-inch rimmed baking sheet. Line with parchment paper, leaving 1-inch overhang on each end, and butter paper.

In large heatproof steel bowl, toss together cereal and nuts.

In heavy large saucepan over moderate heat, stir together sugar and 6 tablespoons water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves, then raise heat to moderately high and boil without stirring, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush, until syrup turns deep amber in color, about 8 minutes. Carefully stir in cream (mixture may splatter and briefly harden) then stir in butter. Remove from heat and stir in salt and vanilla.

Drizzle caramel over cereal-nut mixture and, using heatproof silicone spatula or wooden spoon, stir until fully incorporated. Spread mixture evenly on prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm and slightly cooled, about 10 minutes, then break into bite-sized pieces.

In small metal bowl set over saucepan of barely simmering water, combine chocolate and oil. Heat, whisking occasionally, until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Drizzle chocolate mixture over Rice Krispie pieces and let stand until chocolate hardens.

Rice Krispies Treats will keep in an airtight container for up to two days.

Restaurant Review: FreeFoods NYC – Midtown

I headed off for another lunchtime meal in Midtown yesterday.  This time at FreeFoods NYC which I’ve walked by several times and have always been intrigued by the awesome looking juices people walk out of there with.

FreeFoods NYC  – Per their website

“Specializing in Contemporary Organic Cuisine – flavorful, nutritious , and creative foods designed especially for a busy lifestyle”

What it SHOULD say is “flavorful, nutritious, and creative foods designed especially for those with a lot of money“.

You see this…

That little slice of pizza will cost you $6.50.

Yes, it’s healthier than the $1 slices Ray’s (or whoever) is selling right across the street.  But, it definitely explains why this spot was close to empty during the lunch hours in Midtown.  And it explains why my salad and juice (to go) cost me over $20.

I absolutely understand that organic, healthily prepared food is worth more.  But, it’s hard to justify spending $20 a day on lunch.  This place is for a splurge, only.

My lunch was fine.  I went with the macrobiotic cobb salad.  (ate it too fast to get a picture) and a delightful juice.

The 7 Green (kale, spinach, parsley, cucumber, pear, apple & lime).  Well, mine was only a “5 Green” since they were out of pears and substituted my lime for lemon.  But, it still tasted fresh, delicious and healthy.  3 of my favorite things.

I think you can tell.  FreeFoods NYC was fine.  I was just a little put off by the prices.  Not customary for the neighborhood and not worth it, in my opinion.

  • Food – * * * *
  • Service – * * *
  • (The juicer was broken & it took about 15 mins for someone to fix it.  And they didn’t seem to care too much)   
  • Ambiance – * * * *
  •  (Cool, clean & beautiful)      
  • Price Value – *
  • Overall – Underwhelmed

And, nothing to do with FreeFoods NYC but, this was my view as I walked home last night.

This weekend, and anytime I look at the Manhattan skyline, my thoughts are with the victims, families and brave first responders who lost their lives 10 years ago on 9/11.  God Bless.

Recipe Review: Gwyneth’s Brownies

I admit it, I LOVE Gwyneth Paltrow.  It’s a deep love that began my Sophomore year of college when I saw “Sliding Doors” and decided 3 things:

  1. I should cut my hair short.  (Thank you to my college roomie for changing my mind on that one)
  2. I should study abroad in the UK
  3. I LOVE Gwyneth Paltrow

And I truly believe we could be the best of friends.  I mean, we may have chosen different career paths. But, she has an English husband, I have an English husband (thanks to that year abroad).  Think of all the hilarious conversations.

Natalie: Hey Gwyneth, does Chris say that someone is “at hospital” instead of “in the hospital”?

Gwyneth: He does!!

Then we’ll laugh and laugh and then go grab some coffee, or maybe she’ll make me some Vegetable Paella from her book, or we’ll go watch ‘Shakespeare in Love’ in her private cinema or something.  Whatever, we’re relaxed, no agenda, just hanging out.

But seriously, the girl can cook.

I got a copy of My Father’s Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family & Togetherness for my birthday in July and have been slowly and deliciously making my way through it since.   Yesterday, as Hurricane Irene shuffled up to NYC/NJ and we were confined indoors, I found time to make her “Fudgy Chocolate Brownies”, which happen to be vegan.

The verdict.  Delicious moist, chocolate-y brownies.  As Gwyneth says “These are about as healthy as brownies can get, with no flavor sacrifice”.

And I’ll say it a thousand times, the best part of vegan baking, getting to eat the batter!

I made a few substitutions, based on what I had on hand.  (Wouldn’t you know it, I was clean out of spelt flour).  I’m not sure on the copyright laws on publishing her recipe.  But, the below is my adaptation.

Gwyneth’s Fudgy Chocolate Brownies

Adapted From My Father’s Daughter

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup almond meal flour
  • 1 cup high-quality cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • Pinch fine salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Trader Joe’s Chocolate Chips (vegan)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Grease a 9×11 inch baking dish with Vegetable Oil.
  2. Sift the flours, cocoa, baking powder, and salt together in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the 1/2 cup vegetable oil, syrups, coffee, soy milk, and vanilla.
  4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Careful not to overmix.
  5. Pour 1/2 the batter into the baking dish.  Sprinkle with 1/2 the chocolate chips.
  6. Pour the rest of the batter into the baking dish.  Sprinkle with the rest of the chocolate chips.
  7. Bake for 50 minutes.  Until a toothpick or knife has just a little bit of chocolate on it when you test it.
  8. Cool and cut into squares.

Restaurant Review: Maoz – Times Square

Blink and you’ll miss this little tiny storefront on the corner of 40th Street & 7th Avenue.  And you’d be missing a fast, delicious, CHEAP, vegetarian treat.

MAOZ

I stopped in here for lunch yesterday and it was tasty, as always.  There are only a few items on their menu (falafel sandwich, falafel salad, fries, drinks) but what they do, they do well.  Plus, the shop is so tiny, they wouldn’t be able to fit any other options in here.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1 – Order your meal at the counter.  (I always get the Falafel sandwich “Maoz” on whole wheat at $5.95, eggplant and hummus is extra $$) then step about 2 feet to the right and wait.

Step 2 – Maoz employee calls out the number on your receipt and and hands you your sandwich.

Step 3 – The salad bar is yours all yours.  Corn salad, Beet Salad, Tabouli, Chickpea Salad, Pickled Eggplant, Cabbage and on and on… stuff as much as you can into your sandwich.   Sidenote: I once saw a girl in Maoz get a salad and use both the salad container and LID to pile food on.  She must have had enough food for 2 days!  Not bad for less than $6!

Step 4 – Hand your sandwich over to the Maoz employee at the end of the line and they’ll wrap it up for you to take on your way.

Step 5 – Eat and try not to get it all over your clothes.  This is a tough task for me.

My masterpiece: (lots of Cabbage and Cilantro Sauce)

Maria’s Masterpiece:

The falafel is as good as I’ve ever tasted.  Hot, crunchy and the pita bread is soft and fresh with a lot of room for stuffing with their great salad bar options.   My dining companion was a little resistant to the “rabbit food” I was forcing her to eat for lunch.  But, she even enjoyed it and remarked that she’ll be going back there again.  And  I know I’ll be back pretty much every Wednesday.  (Wednesday is when I have my long runs.  So, I deserve a fried treat for lunch, don’t you think?)

If you’re not in the NYC – Times Square area, they have tons of other restaurants in the NYC area and around the world. Maoz Locations