Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Peanut Butter & Jelly Oat Bars

I'm not really sure if these quality as dessert.  How did I determine that?

Well...they have wheat germ in them.

So that qualifies them as healthy.

AND!  This blackberry jam looks homemade.

Therefore, these bars are either breakfast or a snack.

Think of them like a cereal bar!  Yeah, that's it.

I totally made these for the kids.  It's one of the sacrifices that I made as a mother.

I would show you a picture of one of these cut so you could see the wonderful layers of peanut butter and oats and the blackberry jam, but these bars went from this

to this

very quickly.

We ate them for breakfast, snack and dessert.

We don't discriminate in this house.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Oat Bars
Inspired by Pioneer Woman and Barefoot Contessa

1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
12-13 oz. jar blackberry or strawberry jam (or any flavor jam)

Stir together the butter, peanut butter, vanilla and egg.  Add the remaining ingredients, except for the jam, and combine.  The mixture will be crumbly.  Press 2/3 of the mixture in the bottom of a greased 7x11 inch baking dish.  Evenly spread the jam on top.  Cover with the remaining 1/3 oat mixture.  Bake in a 325 degree oven 30-35 minutes.  Cool and cut into squares.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Curry Chicken Salad

I've not been normal since the bar exam.

I know you wish I would stop talking about the bar.

I wish I would, too.

I just can't get my groove back.  I don't know where it went or where I should go to find it.

I have started every sentence in this post with "I."

I'm pretty sure that's a sign of something.  I'm done now.

So anyway.  My cousin had a beautiful baby girl and I made her these Curry Chicken Salad wraps.  I made them for my cousin, not her baby.

They were yummy.

Here's how I made the chicken salad:

Roast the chicken.  It's so moist and yummy that way.

Dice up the celery and the green onions.

Add some raisins, because every chicken salad needs a little sweet.

Now the dressing: mayo (low-fat is fine), mango chutney, curry powder, salt and pepper.  Whisk it together.

Stir it all up.  Delicious at room temperature or cold.  Right before you serve it, sprinkle the cashews on top.

Okay!  Here's the way I like to serve it

In a wrap.

I don't know why, but this salad wrapped up in a warmed tortilla is just perfect.

Not my original idea, but I have no problem copying Barefoot.

Go wrap some of this stuff up.  It's creamy and crunchy; spicy and sweet.  Absolutely delicious.

Curry Chicken Salad
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa

2 large split chicken breasts, bone in, skin on, roasted
2 stalks celery, diced
4 green onions, diced
1/4 cup raisins
2/3 cup mayonnaise (I use Hellman's with olive oil)
1/4 cup mango chutney (I use Major Grey's)
1 1/2 T curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup salted cashews, roasted

Remove the skin and bones from the chicken.  Roughly shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Combine it with the celery, green onions and raisins.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, chutney, curry powder and salt and pepper.  Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.  Right before serving, toss the cashews in so they don't get soggy.  Serve chilled or at room temperature.  I like to wrap it in a warmed tortilla for a chicken salad wrap!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Brownie Fruit Tart

I have a problem with brownies.

I love them.  The boxed kind are my fave.

Remember these?

Crazy easy, awesomely delicious.

So here's another installment of a dessert made from a brownie mix.  It's a brownie topped with a cream cheese mixture and fresh fruit.

You'll have to let me know what you think.

I think the best part is that you get to put hot fudge over the whole thing.

Ya think?

Brownie Fruit Tart

1 box brownie mix (you want fudgy brownies that say on the box that it makes a 9x13 pan), baked according to package directions in a 9x13 inch baking dish
8 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
2 T powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla paste (or extract)
3 bananas, sliced
1 lb. strawberries, hulled and sliced thin
Hot fudge sauce

Bake the brownies (not too long!  We want them fudgy) and cool completely.  Cream together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and crushed pineapple.  Spread the cream cheese mixture over the brownie evenly.  Top with bananas and strawberries.  Before serving, heat the hot fudge sauce and drizzle it over the whole thing.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pesto Cream Sauce


I'm not joking on this one.

Go whip up some angel hair pasta.

And pour this sauce over it.

You'll just die.

Figuratively.  And literally, if you eat too much of it.

It's rich, and a little goes a long way (I don't say that about too many things, so tread lightly).

You start with cream, and then you heat it just below the boiling point (little tiny bubbles will form around the edges when you're at that point).

Remove it from the heat, and stir in the pesto and parm.

You'll need Parmesan cheese that you actually grated yourself - it will melt a million times better and smoother.

It's so worth the forty million calories it contains.

Go forth.

Eat pesto cream sauce.

So here's how I cut the richness - I toss my pasta with some marinara

and then ladle the pesto sauce over only half of the pasta.

My brother used it as a dipping sauce for his bread, and he highly recommends eating it that way.

Whatever you want to put it in, just put it on something.

It's ridiculous.  Make this today, because it's Tuesday.

Pesto Cream Sauce
Inspired by Bella Notte's fabulous Pesto Alfredo sauce

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup half-and-half
3/4 cup pesto
1 cup fresh grated Parmesan

Heat the cream and half-and-half in a sauce pan over medium heat until it almost boils.  You're just below the boiling point when little tiny bubbles form around the edges.  Remove from the heat and stir in the pesto and cheese.  Stir until the cheese melts and the sauce thickens.  Serve over hot cooked pasta immediately.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Roasted Onion Dip

Okay, so most of you know by now that I'm obsessed with onion dip.

Remember this?

So this is just another type of onion dip that I make sometimes.  Different, but still onion-y delicious.

My husband likes this version better, because the onion flavor is a little more subtle.  I guess the roasting process mellowed the flavor a bit.

Here's what the onions look like BEFORE you roast them:

And here's the after shot:

Then you just process the onions with some yummy stuff:

It makes a LOT so you can easily halve the recipe if needed.  Make this soon.

You won't be sorry.

I know I'm not.

I took a picture of the finished product in my UK chip & dip in honor of March Madness, but apparently my camera ate that shot.  This dip is so good!

Roasted Onion Dip
Inspired by Food Network Kitchens

2 onions, unpeeled
2 T olive oil
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
Several dashes Tabasco sauce (or 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper)
1 T white wine vinegar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 scallions, cut into thirds

Place the onions in an oven-proof dish.  Use your hands to spread the olive oil over the onions.  Roast in a 425 degree oven for about 45 minutes, until very soft.  Remove and cool to room temperature.

Place the remaining ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.  When the onions are cool enough to handle, peel the onions and add them to the food processor.

Pulse until combined and the onions are chopped fine.  Serve with potato chips (I like Ruffles Ridges with this).

Thursday, March 15, 2012


First, I need to tell you that I updated this page.

Next, I need to tell you about Panzanella, the salad that I'm craving AGAIN as I write this post.  It's so good.  One of my favorite salads of all time.

I learned about Panzanella a few years ago.

My life was incomplete before the discovery of Panzanella.

I wonder what else my life is missing that I am unaware of?

So I made this salad to go with this cannelloni.  It's perfect because panzanella takes care of a bread need and a salad need.  It's like a two-fer.

Anyway, chop up your day-old bread (day-old is actually important, because if it's a little stale, it will crisp up in the oven better and then soak up the vinaigrette in the salad better.  Definitely want day-old)

now toss it with some olive oil, salt, pepper and Parmesan.

It is an Italian salad, after all.  So we needed some Parmesan.

Now bake the croutons until they're browned and crunchy.

We want them really crunchy so they will soak up the yummy garlicky vinaigrette we're going to pour over them.

Okay, while the bread is in the oven becoming croutons, it's a good time to chop up the veggies and put them in a bowl.

A big bowl.

Because this is a lot of veggies.  I like tomatoes, cucumbers (sometimes I seed them, sometimes I don't), and red onion.

Okay, now work on the vinaigrette.  Just whisk together the vinegar, oil, garlic, dijon and seasonings.

And remember to add the capers!

Capers are so weird.  And salty.  And good.

I could drink this stuff with a straw.  Is that gross?

If raw garlic bothers you, just toss it with the bread in the oven.  Just don't - by any means - leave it out.

Now!  We're finally ready to toss everything together.  Do it while the bread is warm, and it soaks up that garlic vinaigrette like a sponge.  It's like croutons on steroids.

It's real Italian.

At least I think it is.

Whatever it is, it's awesome.

Inspired by Barefoot Contessa

2 English cucumbers, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into half-moons
2 pints grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 red onion, sliced in half and then sliced into thin half-moons
1/4 cup (about 10-15 leaves) chopped basil leaves

1 lb. day-old bread, cut into cubes
2 T olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Garlic Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 T capers

Toss the veggies in a large bowl.  For the croutons, toss the bread with the olive oil, salt, pepper and Parmesan.  Spread on a baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for 15-25 minutes, tossing once, until the croutons are browned evenly and crunchy.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a separate bowl.  About 20-30 minutes before serving, toss together the croutons (preferably still warm) and the veggies and then top with the dressing.  The warm bread will absorb the vinaigrette and will taste delicious.  Serve at room temperature.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Very Strawberry Cupcakes

My baby turned two years old this week!

So I made her these cupcakes because she's my cupcake.  She loved them.  Girl doesn't get sugar very often, and you don't want to get in between her and sugar when she does get the opportunity.

Plus, she's used to being the little...and she's getting ready to be the middle.

Oh my.  Bless her heart.

So about these cupcakes.  If you like very moist, very strawberry-y, very yummy cupcakes topped with very creamy, very pink and very cream-cheesy icing, you should make these ASAP.

Here's how I did it.  I adapted it from Paula Deen's strawberry cake...very similar, but I changed a few things, like making them into cupcakes!  I know, how did I ever come up with such a great idea.

There's a couple of steps, but they're easy.  And the results are more than worth it.

Put the cake mix, gelatin, water, vegetable oil and eggs in the bowl of a mixer.

And then put the (thawed) strawberries in the food processor.

Puree them with the juice of a lemon!

And then reserve 1/4 cup of the strawberry puree, because we'll need it for the icing in a minute.

Just like that.

Now add the rest of the strawberry puree to the mixer and beat the cupcake ingredients together.

When the cake is ready, prep your cupcake tins with liners, and fill the tins about 2/3 full.

Bake them until they are perfectly moist.

Let them cool while you work on the icing.  Beat together the remaining 1/4 cup strawberry puree, cream cheese and butter.

When that is creamy, add the powdered sugar and blend again.

Now we're ready to ice!

Everyone's got at least one Spring birthday in their family.  Make someone the best birthday cupcakes ever!

Very Strawberry Cupcakes
Adapted from Paula Deen
makes about 20-24 cupcakes, depending on size

Strawberry Cupcakes:
18.5 oz. white cake mix
3 oz. box strawberry-flavored instant gelatin
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
16 oz. container frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and divided
Juice of a lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract

Strawberry-Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz. block cream cheese, at room temperature
4 T (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup strawberry puree from the 16 oz. container you used for the cupcakes
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree the strawberries with the lemon juice.  Reserve 1/4 cup of strawberry puree for the icing.

Combine the cake mix, gelatin, water, oil, eggs, vanilla and the remaining pureed strawberry mixture in the bowl of your stand mixer.  Mix on low speed for 30 seconds.  Stop and scrape the bowl, especially the bottom, well.  Beat on medium-high for two minutes.

Scoop batter into a muffin tin lined with cupcake liners.  You want to fill the cups about 2/3 full.  Bake on 350 for 12-14 minutes, until just done.  Cool to room temperature before frosting.

For the icing, blend the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and strawberries together until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar and blend again until smooth.  Frost cupcakes generously.  I like to use a medium-sized scoop to put a scoop of icing on top of each cupcake, then spread it on top of the cupcake just a little bit.  It's the perfect amount of frosting.