Saturday, May 26, 2012

One Recipe Two Ways: Featuring Biscoff Spread


Last week, my family came in for a visit. We hadn't seen them in a few months due to the 1000-mile distance, so we were excited to see them again. We took them on a culinary tour of our town to try a variety of cuisines, including Lebanese, Mexican, Indian and Chinese Dim Sum. I'm pretty sure by the end of their visit, their taste buds were thoroughly confused! After all that eating, on the last day of their visit, we were all wanting something light for breakfast. I made them one of my famous fruit smoothies and toasted some wheat bread accompanied by various jams and spreads. One of the spreads was one of my recently-discovered favorites, Biscoff. My Mom recognized the name from the cookies they received as a snack on one of their flights. Biscoff is great as a spread, but I've also been known to put a spoonful in my morning oatmeal when I'm feeling naughty. It's a great substitute for peanut butter in baking recipes, so I decided to give it a try in a peanut butter bar recipe I found on Pinterest. We're having a get-together with the neighbors tomorrow, so I whipped up a couple of batches for everyone to try -- one using peanut butter and the other using the star of this show, Biscoff!


Biscoff Bars:
(Alternate Peanut Butter Bar ingredients in italics)

2 sticks melted butter
1 cup Biscoff Spread (substitute peanut butter for the Peanut Butter Bar version)
2 cups Biscoff cookie crumbs (see step #2 below for details; substitute graham cracker crumbs in Peanut Butter Bar version)
2 cups powdered sugar

1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips (substitute semi-sweet chocolate chips for Peanut Butter Bar version)
4 tablespoons Biscoff spread

1. Melt the butter and 1 cup of Biscoff spread (or substitute with peanut butter for alternate Peanut Butter Bars).

2. Use a food processor to grind up the Biscoff cookies. The full package of 32 cookies makes 2 cups of crumbs, so they work perfectly for this recipe; If you're unable to find the Biscoff cookies, the graham cracker crumbs you would use for the peanut butter version of the recipe would work fine.

3. Mix these crumbs with the melted butter/spread mixture and add 2 cups of powdered sugar. Mix well.

4. Pour this mixture into an ungreased baking dish (9X13 will make thinner bars and 8X8 makes a nice, thick bar; I used 8X8); you can also line the dish with parchment paper to make removal easier.

5. Melt the white chocolate chips (or chocolate chips, if you're doing the peanut butter version) and add the biscoff spread (or peanut butter as desired). Pour this over the cookie mixture and spread evenly. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.

6. Cut into bars and enjoy!

If you're unable to find Biscoff (locally, I have seen it in the peanut butter aisle at Walmart, Central Market, World Market and Tom Thumb), the peanut butter version of this recipe is just as tasty. Here are the bars I made using peanut butter and graham cracker crumbs:


Now, I just have to hold myself back from gobbling them up before our neighborhood gathering tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Creamy Avocado Soup

Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner. I had never celebrated until I moved to Texas, but it is a fun holiday for my fellow Texan foodies. Our neighbors have a get-together planned for this weekend and we'll be also be doing a potluck at work this coming Friday. Luckily, I work with some great chefs. No, we don't cook for a living, but you would think we did if you experienced one of our famous department potlucks. Just this week, two of my coworkers brought in batches of homemade salsa. One of the recipes featured red wine, cloves and raisins and provided a sweet and spicy kick to my tastebuds. This particular coworker of mine (I'll call him Chef J) has quite the reputation for his creative recipes (Bacon-wrapped strawberries, anyone?).

A few months ago, he gave me this recipe for creamy avocado soup which would be a great starter for a Cinco de Mayo feast; He said I could pass the recipe along, so here is the tasty goodness:

1 to 1-1/2 cups chopped white/sweet onions
Several sprigs of fresh cilantro (chopped)
Juice of 2 limes
4 Avocados (diced)
3 tsp. chopped garlic
3-4 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream

In a saucepan, sauté the onions and garlic in a bit of oil or butter until onions are translucent. Pour chicken broth into the pan and bring it to a boil. Add lime juice. Add cilantro and the diced avocado. Boil this for 3-4 minutes. Add the mixture to a blender and add the cream. Puree until the mixture is smooth. Pour into bowls and garnish with sour cream if desired.