Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Chewy Granola Bars

Friday, May 27, 2011

Spinach Smoothie


Come on, keep reading!  Would I lead you astray??  The truth is, you don't even taste the spinach in this, it's just a great boost of iron, beta-carotene, and fiber.  And a great way to get a serving of vegetable in before 8:00!  The great thing about this recipe (and, really, most recipes), is that you can adapt it to whatever you have on hand.  You could sub frozen strawberries or peaches for the blueberries, add more fresh fruit, or change what juice you use.  Just make sure it's 100% juice.  This smoothie is a great way to start the day, and makes enough for me to share with my 3-year-old, who LOVES it.  I find that I make better food and exercise decisions throughout the day when I start my day right.  Go ahead.  Give it a try.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Caramel Apple Pie

Pie Crust

This is by far my favorite pie crust.  It is flaky and tender and just plain yummy.  Just beware that it kind of wants to be the star of your pie! :)

Pie Crust
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3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups shortening
1 egg
5 Tbs cold water
1 tsp vinegar

Cut shortening into flour and salt mixture.  Beat egg, water, and vinegar together.  Blend with flour mixture just until moist.

Will be flakier if frozen.

Yield: 2 double pie crusts (if you are better at rolling out pie dough than I am)
Source: Kathy Crawford

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Baked Oatmeal

My girls prefer a hot breakfast each morning, so I am always on the look-out for new ideas.  While they do not get bored of eggs or pancakes, I do!  I found this baked oatmeal, and knew it could be great not only for weekday mornings, but for weekends or even as part of a brunch menu.  You can sub in any fruit or nut combo that you like or just use whatever you have on hand!  The texture is almost cake-like with the egg, butter, and brown sugar, and it is so warm and comforting.  Try making it this weekend for your family!  If you need more than four servings, simply double it and bake in a 9x13 instead.

Baked OatmealPrinter-Friendly Version

3 cups old-fashioned oats (quick-cooking will not stand up to the baking)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup melted butter

splash of vanilla
1 egg

1/2 cup skim milk (any fat content will work)
Handful dried cherries (if desired)

To serve:

Fresh berries
Pistachios or toasted, sliced almonds\
Hot milk, to serve

Preheat oven to 350*F
Stir dry ingredients together.  Whisk butter, vanilla, egg, and milk in separate bowl, then stir into dry mixture.  Fold in dried cherries.   Pour into a lightly greased pie plate.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Caramel-Swirl Blondies

I was eight years old when my baby brother was born.  I loved babies, and I became a sort of "second Mom".  I carried him with me all over and I played with him.  I liked to dress him.  When he got a little older, I was the one he wanted to tuck him in if my parents were gone.  We've always been close, and I've always seen him as my baby brother.

My baby brother is all grown up now.  He's six feet tall, turns eighteen in a couple of weeks, AND...he has a girlfriend.  Which is so weird to me.  Good, just weird.  She's a sweet girl who comes from a great family, and they are cute together.

My brother called last week to see if they could come watch the hockey game with us.  I wanted to make a sweet treat, and I wanted something quick.  I went to my new Williams-Sonoma Baking cookbook and found these yummy Blondies.  I also wanted a caramel swirl in them, so I made up some caramel, swirled it in the Blondies, and hoped for the best.  They were super yummy, and were perfect with a cup of strong coffee (is there any other kind??).  Which, by the way, my baby brother drank.  Again, weird.  Life is making me feel a little old lately, for the first time ever.  My brother will be going away to college in the fall, and that will be weird, too.  I'll miss him.  Love you, Buddy!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Three Tips for Thursdays--Cinco de Mayo

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  I was hoping to have my Grandma's Enchilada recipe to share with you today,  but she has had a busy schedule the last few weeks and we weren't able to get together to make them.  Hopefully soon!  In the meantime, I will remind you of a few dishes you could make tonight to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in your home.

Shredded Beef Tacos

I Don't Have All Day Enchiladas

Salsa & Guacamole

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Help Me Name This Stuffed Chicken


I've tried BLT Stuffed Chicken, but it's Spinach, not Lettuce, and then you miss out on the Feta. BSTF is way too confusing.  Listing all the ingredients that are stuffed in it is really too long, and too much information for me.  I'm at a loss for a name.  Do you have a name that will fit this dish?  Please help me out!  This was super yummy, and it deserves a name!

Stuffed Chicken
Printer-friendly version

4 large, fresh boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/3 cup spinach leaves, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup tomato, diced very small
3-4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
16 tooth picks
salt and pepper
4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus more for pan
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp dried oregano

Combine feta, spinach, tomatoes, and bacon in a small bowl.  Lay 16 tooth picks out on a plate so you can access them without contaminating anything (You will need them to secure the chicken breasts).  Trim any excess fat off of the chicken breasts.  Using a sharp knife, make a cut through the side of the chicken breast, slicing along the entire length of the chicken to make a pocket.  Repeat with remaining chicken breasts. There are no pictures of this step because I am a germophobe--especially when dealing with raw chicken!

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Have a plate ready to place chicken on after stuffed.
Stuff the first chicken breast with approximately 1/4 of the filling.  Make sure it is evenly distributed.  Secure the chicken breast around the filling with 4 tooth picks.  Stuff remaining chicken breasts.

Heat about 1 Tbs olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet over med-high heat.  When hot, add stuffed chicken, and brown on each sides, 3-4 minutes each.  While chicken is browning, combing oil, garlic, lemon juice, and oregano in a small bowl.  Spoon over each of the chicken breasts when brown, and place in preheated oven.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until internal temperature reads 170* and juices run clear.

Let rest 5 minutes, then slice into one-inch slices and serve.

Yield: 4-8 servings (I made 3 chicken breasts for my family of four and had almost an entire breast leftover.  Depending on your family, or whoever is eating this, you could have a varied serving size)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Caramel Shortbread Bars

How many times have we been told that it's not outward beauty that counts, but inner beauty?  I am a firm believer that this saying not only applies to people, but to food.  I've made a few beauties in the last few months.

Like this pull-apart bread.

And this Strawberry Mirror Cake.

But you know what?  For all the prep and all the showy appearance, they just didn't taste great.  The same thing happened the first time I made "Millionaire's Shortbread".  I was super excited about those bars.  I mean, what's not to love about shortbread, homemade caramel, and chocolate??  Especially to a short-bread lover as myself.  I made them.  I cut them.  They looked beautiful with a nice, tall, white shortbread, then the creamy brown of the caramel, and the dark chocolate (apparently I didn't take a picture of them).  Then I tasted them.  The shortbread was all wrong!  It was crumbly and dry.  I wanted it to be crisp.  More like a Twix candybar.  So as excited as I was to share the recipe with all of you, I knew I needed to make some changes first.  (Don't worry, changed-up versions of the above pictures are coming as well!)

So these are the next version I tried.  They're not beautiful on the outside.  But they are so SO beautiful on the inside.  I got the crisp texture I wanted from the cookie base, and the caramel and chocolate needed no changing.  I am planning to eat one with my coffee here in just a minute.  They're that good.

Caramel Shortbread Bars

For the shortbread:
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt

For the Caramel:
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 Tbs light corn syrup
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

For the Chocolate:
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/2 Tbs butter or shortening