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The Unstoppable Rise of Cereal Bars: Inspired by Rice Krispies Treats

In the ever-evolving world of American snacking, some innovations capture our hearts and refuse to let go. One such invention is the cereal bar, inspired by the legendary Rice Krispies Treats. From school fundraisers to church picnics, these malleable munchies have graced countless events, proving that the marriage of cereal and marshmallow is nothing short of culinary genius.


The allure of cereal bars, much like their Rice Krispies ancestors, lies in a few simple attributes:


  1. Simplicity: At their core, cereal bars often require just two main components: a choice of cereal and a binding agent, typically marshmallows or a syrup mixture. This easy combination offers even the least experienced cooks a gateway into the world of homemade snacks.

  2. Quick Creation: In the fast-paced rhythm of modern life, convenience is king. Cereal bars, with their no-bake nature, promise a delectable outcome in mere minutes, sidelining more time-intensive baked goods.

  3. Infinite Customization: The true beauty of cereal bars is their adaptability. With a multitude of cereals on the market, from Fruity Pebbles to Corn Flakes, the flavor profiles are endless. Add-ins, such as dried fruits, chocolates, or nuts, only elevate the game, allowing for a fresh twist with every batch.

  4. Budget-Friendly: Crafting a delicious snack shouldn’t break the bank. Cereal bars, thanks to their modest ingredient list, ensure that hosts can provide for large gatherings without incurring hefty expenses.

  5. Allergy Considerations: While not universally allergen-free, many cereal bar recipes can be adapted to avoid common allergens, making them a thoughtful choice for diverse groups with varied dietary needs.



The landscape of cereal bars has expanded significantly from the original Rice Krispies blueprint. A stroll down memory lane reveals that while the traditional Rice Krispies Treat held sway for years, inventive cooks soon began to envision a world beyond. A plethora of cereals entered the mix, accompanied by an array of supplementary ingredients, celebrating the essence of culinary creativity.


The birth of this snacking sensation dates back to 1939 when Malitta Jensen and Mildred Day of the Kellogg Company’s Home Economics department unveiled the Rice Krispies Treat. Originally devised as a promotional strategy for Rice Krispies cereal, this snack laid the foundation for a broader category of cereal bars. Today, these treats stand as a testament to American ingenuity, celebrating the spirit of innovation and the joy of a shared snack.

Rice Crispy (Krispies) Treats

Serves: 12 Prep Time: 10 Minutes Cooking Time: 10 Minutes 10 Minutes

Ingredients

  1. 11 oz box of lightly sweetened flakes with dehydrated fruit

  2. 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) salted or unsalted butter

  3. 1 bag large marshmallows

  4. 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  5. 6 oz dry cranberries

  6. 6 oz roasted almonds, coarsely chopped

Instructions

  1. Prep Work: Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish or line it with parchment paper. Set aside.

  2. Melting Phase: In a large pot, melt the butter over low heat. Allow the butter to finish foaming and allow the butter solids to brown and develop extra caramel flavors. Once browned, add in the marshmallows. Stir continuously until the marshmallows are fully melted and the mixture is smooth.

  3. Mix in Salt: Stir in the kosher salt until well combined.

  4. Adding Cereal: Remove the pot from heat. Gradually fold in the lightly sweetened flakes with dehydrated fruit until they are well-coated with the marshmallow mixture.

  5. Incorporate Extras: Gently fold in the dry cranberries and chopped roasted almonds, ensuring they're evenly distributed.

  6. Set and Cool: Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Using a greased spatula (or your hands, lightly wetted with water), press down firmly to create an even layer. Allow the mixture to set and cool for at least 1 hour.

  7. Serve: Once set, cut into squares or bars. 


Store in an airtight container at room temperature for best freshness. These bars combine the fruity tang, crunchy almonds, and the classic marshmallow stickiness for a treat that's sure to satisfy.

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I SHARE YOUR UNDYING LOVE FOR RIBS! Be it the sizzle of the grill or the gentle simmer in a pot, my passion for these delectable delights knows no bounds. In my family, beef ribs were the hearty choice that kept our appetites at bay while being kind to our pockets. However, as time marched on, the winds of change swept through, driven by clever marketing and a heightened awareness of health concerns tied to red meat consumption. Enter pork ribs, now a star attraction and a cherished favorite at BBQ gatherings throughout various regions in the US.


You might be surprised to learn that grilling pork ribs, or any rib meat for that matter, is not a novel idea. The truth reveals a captivating history that dates back thousands of years. From the Paleolithic era, evidence shows that our ancient ancestors savored the succulent joys of ribs. These culinary delights have withstood the test of time, capturing hearts and taste buds throughout generations.


Oh, and let’s talk about my mouthwatering recipe! About 7-8 years ago, I embarked on a mission to create ribs bursting with incredible flavors yet requiring minimal effort. I wanted to spare myself and fellow enthusiasts from endless hours over a hot grill, leaving more time to enjoy the party. (And believe me, avoiding sticky fingers was a welcome bonus!) My creation was a resounding success! These ribs boast divine flavor even without the addition of the red curry and coconut sauce. So if you’re seeking a dish that tantalizes your taste buds with ease, look no further – this is the recipe for you!

Thai Curry Baby Back Ribs

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 3 Hours

Cooking Time: 4 Hours 4 Hours

Ingredients

  1. 1 rack baby back ribs

  2. 4 inches of cleaned lemongrass

  3. 1/2 inch piece of ginger

  4. 2 tablespoons garlic

  5. 1/3 cup fish sauce

  6. 1 cup coconut milk

  7. 1 teaspoon kosher salt (fish sauce has a lot of salt, but kosher salt helps round out the flavors)

  8. 1/4 - 1/3 cup Thai Curry Paste (red or any preferred type)

Instructions


Ribs And Sauce

  1. Place the ribs on a gel cutting board and separate them with a chef's knife or boning knife. Place the serrated ribs into a large bowl and set aside.

  2. Using the same knife, ruffly chop the ginger, garlic, lemongrass and lime leaves  small-ish bits. Place all the bits along with the fish sauce into a food processor and grind until finally diced. (It doesn't have to be a puree, but chopped as finely as possible is ideal.) Pour the mixture over the ribs along with the kosher salt and mix until the ribs are fully coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to marinate for 3 hours to overnight.

  3. If you are using canned coconut milk remove the solidified fat from the can and place in a sauce pan. Turn the burner to medium and allow the coconut milk fat to liquefy. Add the curry paste and allow to cook fry in the fat for 3-4 minutes. Make sure to stir completely to get the move even flavors. Add the remaining coconut water/milk and stir until smooth. (If you are using coconut milk that hasn't separated you can use a flavorless oil to fry your curry paste before adding the coconut milk.)

  4. Allow the coconut milk and curry paste sauce to reduce by about half then set aside to cool to room temperature.


Smoker Setup

  1. Setup/Clean your smoker per the manufacture directions. 

  2. For the wood chips, I prefer to use a mixture of wood chips and store bought charcoal. However, it is perfectly fine to use all wood chips if you prefer.

  3. Turn the smoker on medium and allow to come to temperature. (About 200-240 degrees.)


Cooking The Ribs

  1. Using a disposable towel and tongs, oil your rack with a flavorless oil with a high smoke point.  Place the ribs on the oiled racks and return them to your smoker.

  2. Every 30-24 minutes baste the ribs with curry sauce. 

  3. Cook the ribs between 200 and 240 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 195 - 200 degrees F (90 - 93 C) so the fat and collagen throughout the meat breaks down and flavored the ribs.

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Updated: May 10


If you grew up in the South, chances are your family smoked meat. To be honest, it wasn’t until culinary school that I realized you could smoke things other than meat. Every holiday, special event, and family reunion, you could count on one of my uncles, if not all of them, firing up the smoker to prepare some mouthwatering smoked meats. The techniques and recipes have been handed down from generation to generation, with each family member adding their own spin to this truly ancient cooking and preservation method.


The culinary tradition of smoking meat in the South is a beautiful way that most, if not all, families in the region connect with their heritage and history. I have fond memories of holiday weekends with the men all gathered by the smoker, telling war stories and sharing laughs while the “women folk” prepared side dishes and gently corrected the men’s um, tall tales of adventures past. Looking back, it’s one of the things I dearly miss.


It might shock you to learn that the art of smoking meat isn’t limited to just the South; it’s a cooking technique dating back thousands of years, found across different cultures and regions worldwide, each contributing its own variations and flavors to the mix. As I’ve learned more about cooking through culinary school and my own experiments in the kitchen, I’ve discovered new ways to apply this ancient method to other ingredients, expanding the possibilities beyond traditional meat-smoking.


But today we’re here to discuss smoking one of my favorite things in the world, CHICKEN WINGS! I love them! Honestly, smoking wings was not something we did growing up. In truth, we didn’t really eat a lot of wings until my later adult years. I don’t mean we didn’t cook with them, but most of the time, we had to stretch a little bit of meat to feed a large crowd. So they’d often be boiled or baked, then shredded into another dish like chicken and rice, chicken and dumplings, or chicken salad. This was also about the same time as the rise of the wing happened, and they became expensive. It’s also interesting to see the migration of the wing in my lifetime from “poor food” to something almost every restaurant in America has on their menus now in some form.


So, as I reflect on the rich tradition of smoking meat in the South and the evolution of my own culinary journey, I can’t help but crave one of my all-time favorites: smoked chicken wings! Over the years, I’ve honed a recipe that brings together the timeless art of smoking with the irresistible flavor of tender, juicy chicken wings. Let me share with you my tried-and-true smoked chicken wing recipe that will undoubtedly become a crowd-pleaser at your next gathering. Get ready to savor the mouthwatering flavors of perfectly smoked wings!

Smoked Chicken Wings

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 3 Hours

Cooking Time: 40 Minutes

Ingredients

  1. 1 package of whole chicken wings (Normally about 4.5 pounds, but 4 pounds of 'cleaned' wings would work too.)

  2. 1 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda (1 teaspoon per 3 pounds of meat.)

  3. 8 cups chicken brine (Use whatever recipe you prefer, but this is an important step!)

  4. 1/2 cup Spice Blend of your choice (You won't need all of it, but better to have too much than not enough.)

  5. Wood chips, blocks, or pellets, and a few bricks of your favorite charcoal for background flavor.

  6. 3 tablespoons butter

  7. 1/2 cup of your preferred hot, buffalo, or BBQ sauce

Instructions


The Chicken:

  1. In a large food-safe container, place the baking soda along with 1 cup of your chicken brine. Fully mix the brine and baking soda until completely combined. The baking soda will change the pH of the wings, allowing them to crisp better later. Brining is a must-do step because white meat chicken can turn dry and tough very easily. So, brining the chicken will add extra moisture and flavor to your final product. This step should NOT be skipped, even for small portions of meat like chicken wings. Allow the wings to soak in the brine for 1 to 3 hours.

  2. Remove your wings one at a time and place them on a gel cutting board. Stretch the wing out until you start to feel/hear the joints crack a little. Place the tip of your knife between each joint and separate them. If your knife is not between the joint, you will have a hard time separating them. Place the wing tips into a freezer bag for chicken stock later. Place the drumettes and flat wing portions into a large food-safe container. Pat each one down with a clean disposable paper towel as you add them. Pour in half of your spice mixture and toss the wings until they're fully coated. Then add the remaining spices a little at a time until they're fully coated. (Try not to overdo it as the spices can burn in the smoker if it's too hot.)

  3. Once your wings are fully coated, place each one on a rack-lined sheet pan. Put the whole sheet pan into the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.


The Smoker:

  1. While your chicken wings are resting in the fridge, it's time to set up your smoker. In a large container, place your wood chips or wood blocks inside and cover them with water until about 1 inch above. Allow them to soak in the water until they have reached the desired level of dampness you wish. If using wood blocks, soak for 2 hours up to overnight. Wood chips, on the other hand, only need about 30 minutes to an hour. (While most people use hardwoods for smoking due to their longer smoke time, you can use both hard and softwood for this. However, do not use woods that contain sap and resin like pine, as they will give your food a bad taste!)

  2. Open up your smoker and remove any old ashes, then fill it with your WET wood chips and any other flavorings you wish to add. (Sometimes I'll add citrus peels, lemongrass stalks, cinnamon bark - not the quills.)

  3. Depending on your smoker setup, you may or may not have a water pan. If you do, remove this pan and WASH it fully with a non-perfumed, natural soap. Make sure to rinse the pan multiple times to remove any soap residue that might be left behind. Return your water pan to the machine and fill it with the desired liquid you wish to use. Typically, this is water, but you can also use a mixture of water, beer, pickle brine, etc. Be careful how much you add, as this can also give things an odd taste if you add too much. (I used too much pickle brine once, and my chicken tasted a bit like dill pickles.)

  4. Remove the grates from your machine and spray them off with an outside water source. If you are using a grill as a smoker, you can then place the grills back on the device and burn off any leftover dirt by placing them directly over a hot flame before scraping them off with a grill brush. If you use an electric smoker, you can run these through your dishwasher without any soap in the machine on your pots and pan setting. (I normally run my dishwasher empty once before then washing my grates to ensure no soap is left in the machine itself.) Once cleaned, return them to your machine.

  5. If you are using a charcoal grill (non-electric and non-propane grills) to smoke your wings, place a full chimney of charcoal briquets. If you don't have a chimney, you'll want to use about 3 pounds of charcoal briquets. Lite them and allow them to start developing ash.

  6. If you are using a charcoal grill to smoke your wings, you'll want to use tinfoil and create a packet large enough to hold your wet wood chips (without the water) and fully seal the package edges so nothing falls out. Take a knife and slice 2-3 slashes 1 inch long to allow the wood smoke to escape. Once the charcoal briquets begin to develop ash on 50% of the briquets, pile half of them into a mound on one side of your grill. Place your tinfoil packet on the coals and cover it with the remaining coals. On the other hand, if you are using an electric smoker, you can simply let your smoker temperature come to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit (82 degrees Celsius) to be "ready."


Marriage Of The Smoker And The Chicken

  1. Oil the food grates for your device with a flavorless oil (canola is ideal) and place your wings on your smoker's racks. Your goal is to place the flats on the outer edge away from the direct heat. Place the drumsticks closer to the flame, but not directly over it.

  2. Close your device and open your vents to allow airflow. (If you don't have enough airflow, your fire can go out, and you won't get that smoky flavor.)

  3. After about 30 minutes, open your smoker and turn your wings to ensure even smoking.

  4. Once your wings reach 180 degrees Fahrenheit (82 degrees Celsius), remove them from the smoker.

  5. If you are using a charcoal grill, place the drumsticks over the direct heat and allow them to crisp up and render any remaining fat. Once the drumsticks are browned on all sides, remove them and do the same for the flats.


The Sauce

  1. Place the butter in a sauté pan and allow it to melt until the bubbling subsides. (Allow it to become slightly brown for extra flavor, but this is optional.)

  2. Pour the sauce you wish to use into the sauté pan and mix. Allow the sauce to cook for a few moments to thicken up and condense a little.

  3. Toss the wings in the sauce and enjoy!

Did You Make This Recipe?

How you went with my recipes? Tag me on Instagram at @transchef.




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