Thursday, July 29, 2010

S'mores Bars

You should run, right now, to your kitchen and make these. I saw this at Real Mom Kitchen a few weeks ago and made them right away. If you like S'mores, you are going to be in heaven with this quick little dessert. The weekend is fast approaching and you need these, whatever it is you are doing. Trust me. I mean, just look at it. The only warning I have is that you might be tempted to eat the entire pan.

What You Need:
1 stick of butter, room temperature

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 king-sized Hershey’s milk chocolate bars
1 large egg
1 jar marshmallow creme/fluff
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (~7 full-sized graham cracker sheets, processed til fine)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Use an electric mixer to cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Set aside.

Meanwhile,whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to the creamed butter mixture until combined.

Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan.

Place chocolate bars over dough. 2 king-sized Hershey’s bars should fit perfectly side by side. (I had to trim a little off one bar to get mine to fit.)

Spread chocolate with marshmallow creme or fluff.

Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff. You sort of have to make "shingles" with your hands by flattening small sections of dough and piecing them together on top.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until lightly browned. Be sure to cool completely before cutting into bars. {Although we didn't cool them and I thought they were best served warm!} Enjoy!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Homemade Pasta Sauce

Okay I'll admit it. For awhile now I've been using store bought pasta sauce. Between our families, my husband and I grew up eating homemade sauce but somewhere along the way I found out Ragu was actually pretty good and it became a pantry staple. Anyway, in my quest to reduce as many processed foods as possible I decided to make a large batch the other day. With foods like this, I always make a ton extra and freeze the rest in small containers to be pulled out as needed. It doesn't take extra work to double, triple or quadruple a recipe and saves so much time later on. This recipe turned out pretty much perfect! This makes over 6 quarts of sauce. Just don't do what I did. I left mine out to cool before freezing and forgot about it overnight! I was extremely sad about that but will definitely make this again! Oh, and I made the pasta and sauce with  this Three Cheese Italian Bread, which is also awesome, by the way!

What You Need:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups onion, chopped and divided
1 red pepper, coarsely chopped
2 pounds hamburger (at least 90% lean)
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 12 oz. can tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 teaspoons dried oregano
3 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 14-oz. can Italian-style diced tomatoes
2 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 carton fresh mushrooms (optional)
1 1/2 cups beef stock or beef broth
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add 1/2 of the onions and saute until translucent and slightly browned. Add garlic and stir constantly for 1 minute. Add beef and cook until no red is showing. Drain beef slightly. Blend up the remaining onions and red pepper in a blender or food processor until mostly smooth. Add mixture to the garlic, onions and beef and stir to combine, cooking for another minute. Add tomato paste and spices and cook for 1 minute, stirring until combined. Add tomatoes, beef broth and sugar (and mushrooms, if using). Stir until combined and add the bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Fifteen minutes before serving, stir in the balsamic vinegar.

 The sauce will seem watery at first but will reduce to perfection after simmering for an hour {or more}.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fresh Strawberry Bread

I found this recipe at My Baking Addiction, which is one of my new favorite baking blogs. This recipe would be so perfect for a social event such as a wedding or baby shower or a brunch. Anytime, really! This was such a moist flavorful bread. I loved the strong strawberry flavor. I doubled this recipe and got 3 small loaves. The orginal below states it makes one loaf in a 9x5 bread pan but I think there is a lot more dough than that. You decide.

What You Need:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and chopped {I used the food processor}

Grease and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan. With electric mixer cream butter, sugar and cream cheese until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla. In separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Blend flour mixture with butter mixture just until blended. Add buttermilk and only stir until just combined; do not over mix. Carefully fold in strawberries. Dough mixture will be thick. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes. I needed to cover mine with foil after about 45 minutes so they would not burn on top. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pork Chops & Rice Bake

This is another quick, easy & affordable meal that works for any type of family. I know not everyone is a casserole fan {my husband being one of them} but he liked this and being the cook, I love a one-pan meal. Season your chops in the package you purchased them and you'll only have a couple of dishes to wash tonight.

What You Need:
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
Four 8 oz. center-cut, bone-in pork loin chops, 1/2 inch thick
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup uncooked long-grain rice
1 10 3/4 oz can cream of chicken soup
2 cups grated cheddar cheese {8 oz}

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat the oil in an ovenproof skillet with a lid over medium high heat. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. Cook, turning once until brown on both sides. 6-8 minutes total. Meanwhile, in a bowl mix together 1/4 cup water, rice, cream of chicken soup and cheddar cheese. Once the chops are browned, add the rice mixture to the skillet. Cover and transfer to the oven. {Be sure you are using a skillet with an oven-safe handle and use caution when removing.} Bake 45 minutes, or until the rice is done. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Southwest Rice and Bean Salad

I will tell you, I am not a fan of sandwiches for lunch so I like new things to try. This is a nice change up on a salad but it is so filling it is easily a candidate for a main dish. Very tasty and healthy, I think you'll like this. I found it over at My Kitchen Cafe. Now for me, I am the only one in the house who will eat a salad so next time I will cut the recipe in half. I ended up with way too much for just one person. But this would be a fabulous recipe for a potluck or other get together!

Photo courtesy My Kitchen Cafe

6 cups cooked rice, warm or at room temperature
2 teaspoons salt
1 (16-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (16-oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked, cubed chicken
1 (12-oz.) can corn, drained
4 green onions, chopped

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
4 pickled jalapeno pepper rounds {I find near the salsa and diced green chiles in a jar}
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin

Combine all of the salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Combine dressing ingredients in blender until peppers are finely minced. Toss with salad. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Five- Minute Tiramisu

This was so easy to put together I honestly thought it was not going to be very good. I was so surprised when we loved it. Literally you can put this together in just a matter of minutes and it doesn't contain many of the expensive ingredients that some versions do. I found this recipe in the Everyday Food cookbook but changed it to suit what I had on hand and simplified it. {The original recipe called for using instant espresso powder. I didn't have any and didn't want to purchase it and I'm guessing many others don't either}. I also doubled the cream-cheese mixture finding it needed a lot more for our taste. I will definitely make this again! {Having a hard time leaving it alone!}

What You Need:
2 cups of very strong coffee, cooled {I used 3 tablespoons of ground coffee to 2 cups of water}
2 package {8 oz} cream cheese
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup sugar
1 7 oz package of lady fingers
unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese with the heavy cream and sugar until light and fluffy. Spread a few tablespoons of the mixture in the bottom of your serving dish. {A 2 quart serving dish will work.} One by one, dip a third of the lady fingers in the coffee and arrange in the bottom of the serving dish. Spread with a third of the cream cheese mixture. Repeat twice with the remaining ingredients. Refrigerate until chilled and ready to serve. Dust with cocoa before serving. Enjoy!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Broccoli with Orange Sauce

Here's a yummy way to dress up your veggies. In my house, no one but me eats the green stuff but I love it! This sauce is quick tasty and will give you a little variation on dressing up vegetables. Plus you may have all of these ingredients on hand. Give it a try!

What You Need:
1/2 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer on medium until reduced to about 3/4 cup. Toss with broccoli and enjoy!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Almond Banana Smoothie

Here is a smoothie/drink recipe that I adapted from the South Beach Diet summer cookbook. We make a lot of smoothies for breakfast at our house. I find it is a good way to get things into my preschooler without a fight. He loves to help make them, too. I thought this one was a good twist on the usual ingredients and it packs at least 5 grams of protein into a 3/4 cup serving. Now, the original recipe calls for you to puree sliced almonds with water and you can surely do that if you like. However I decided to take a shortcut and just use almond milk, which is easy to find at any regular grocery store near the rest of the milk. If you decide to do the puree thing, use 1/4 cup of sliced almonds with 1 cup of water. I also decided it needed an extra banana!

What You Need:
1 cup almond milk
2 bananas, peeled {obviously!}
1 cup low-fat plain or vanilla yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
ice cubes

In a blender, combine all ingredients until mixture is smooth and thick. Fill four 8 oz glasses with ice and pour  over ice. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Pizza on the Grill

Yes, pizza on the grill! I think that anytime you can avoid turning on your oven in the summer time, you should take advantage. So when I saw this idea at Crazi Beautiful, I tried it and am very glad I did! If you like wood-fired pizza, you will love this. You'll get that nice, puffy dough with the smokiness and great flavor. This was really easy, too and everyone {even the picky eater} loved it! Customize with whatever toppings you like such as chicken and bbq sauce, fresh tomato and basil, pineapple and ham, fresh veggies, or traditional mozzarella and pepperoni. This pizza dough recipe will make four 7-8 inch pizzas.

What You Need {Pizza Dough}
3-5 cups flour
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon oil, heaping
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

Mix all pizza dough ingredients together, except the flour. Add flour and knead for a few minutes until flour is well combined and a soft dough is formed. Your dough is ready to use immediately.

You will also need ready:
Olive oil
A cookie sheet
Four pieces of tin foil
Your choice of pizza toppings

1. Turn your grill on and set it to high. While the grill heats up, roll out your dough. Roll it out to about 7 inches in diameter and 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Roll out your first piece of dough and brush one side with olive oil. Place oil side down on a piece of aluminum foil and brush the other side. Then top with a piece of foil. Follow this same process with the next piece of dough. You are making a little stack of oiled dough in between foil pieces. The oil keeps the dough from sticking to the foil and grill and adds to the flavor of the crust. You will use the foil to flip the dough onto the grill.

2. Now you’re ready to grill the dough. Turn the grill down to medium. Place the dough on the grill. Take off the top layer from your stack using the foil and flip it on the grill. Once the dough is all on the grill close the lid and let it cook for 2 minutes. Check for the dough to be puffy and browned. If not let it go a little bit more. Now you want to have a cookie sheet nearby.

3. Remove the dough from the grill with your tongs and place on the cookie sheet grilled side up. Top your pizzas however you like. Start with the sauce followed by cheese and then your toppings. Once topped carefully place the pizzas back on the grill with the spatula, to cook the underside of the dough. Turn the grill down to low at this point. Close the lid again and cook for another 5-7 minutes until the cheese is all melted. Remove from the grill using your spatula and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pasta with Prosciutto & Peas

I hope everyone had a wonderful {holiday}weekend. I know I did. It was so full of activities I didn't have a minute to sit down and post and I have so many recipes I want to share. I noticed it has been awhile since I posted a main dish, so I'll start with that. I think in the summer I am drawn to lighter things like salads, salsas, drinks, and tend to lean away from the heavier foods. But I know we still all have to cook dinner out there so here goes! This is what we had for dinner just last night! Yummy.

This recipe comes from the cookbook Everday Food: Great Food Fast, with just a couple of my variations.

What You Need:
12 oz. pasta {They called for fettuccine but I think any kind of heavy noodle would be great}
1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream {I used closer to 1/2 cup}
1 10 oz package of frozen peas, thawed {or fresh}
8 slices prosciutto, halved lengthwise and then sliced crosswise. {about 1 cup}
Zest of two lemons
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese {plus extra for serving}
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to package directions in salted water until just al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Drain and return to the pot. In the meantime, in a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the cream, peas, and prosciutto. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat until peas are heated through, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and juice.

Add the pasta to the skillet with the sauce. Add the parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Add enough of the reserved pasta water a little at a time to thin the sauce as desired. Serve immediately. Top with additional parmesan, if desired. Enjoy!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cheddar Garlic Biscuits

So tonight I tried making those homemade hamburger buns...again. (I failed the first time a few weeks ago). I wanted to post that recipe for you for your 4th of July burgers but, yeah they went to the garbage! I think the third time is going to be the charm though because at least I know what I did wrong. I am not giving up! I am sure it is time for me to take a bread making class! However, something good did come out of it in that I really wanted bread to go with our soup so I started over with biscuits. I've had this recipe sitting in my to-be-tried file for some time and I am so glad I finally did them. I've made other versions of these but this was by far the best. I really do not think you could improve much on this recipe and besides they are extremely easy. We usually like these biscuits with fish (sort of a Red Lobster at-home thing) but they would be wonderful with whatever you choose, I am sure. They are melt in your mouth goodness.

What You Need:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons shortening
3 tablespoons butter, cold
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
(additional) 3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, garlic powder and salt. Cut in shortening and butter until coarse crumbs are formed. Lightly mix in grated cheese. Mix in buttermilk just until moist. Do not overmix or handle too much. This is the secret to melt-in-your-mouth biscuits. They will be tough if you over-mix them. Drop the biscuits onto a greased or lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until browned and golden. While the biscuits are baking, in a small bowl combine three tablespoons melted butter,  parsley flakes,  garlic powder and a pinch of salt. Right when the biscuits come out of the oven, brush the butter/herb mixture over the biscuits evenly. Serve immediately. Enjoy!