Friday, August 24, 2012

Strawberry Oat Bars

Hi there.

I'm here, because Baby Bear's not.


He's apparently thrilled with his current (cramped) quarters and not interested in coming out to play.

Yet.

So I baked these bars for entertainment.


It was my way of saying thank you to my mom for keeping me sane this week while we wait on the babe.

I love these preserves.  They totally look like I made them. Except that my name's not Bonne Maman. 
I'm not sure she's forgiven me yet.  For the bars, that is.


They're like a dessert.  Or a snack.  Or breakfast.  Duh, because they contain oats!  Anything containing oats qualifies as a legit breakfast.


Of course, you have to take that breakfast comment with a grain of salt.  Because I've already confessed my low-class habit of eating cake for breakfast.

Whatever you want to call them, they're killer.


It's Pioneer Woman's recipe.  I made a couple of slight changes to it.  I baked it in a smaller pan so they're thicker and chewier (they're less crispy this way) and I soften the butter so that it's easier to mix.


These bars are SO GOOD.  They're like a strawberry granola bar.  Except they're homemade.  And just really yummy.  And they contain real butter.  And real, old-fashioned oats.  Because old-fashioned ones make for great texture.

Speaking of, I need to stock up on butter.  Because I get nervous if I have less than two pounds of butter in my freezer.  And one in the fridge.

That's just how I roll.

Strawberry Oat Bars
Slightly Adapted from Pioneer Woman

1 1/2 sticks butter, softened or melted
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
13 oz. jar strawberry preserves

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all ingredients except the strawberry preserves.  Combine until crumbly.

Pat half of the mixture into a 7x11 inch baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray (you could also line the bottom with parchment paper for easy removal).  Spread the preserves on top (an off-set spatula works great for this).

Using your hands, crumble the remaining oat mixture and sprinkle it on top.  Use your hands to press it lightly into the preserves.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.  You want these to be set but not brown or crispy yet.

Cool to room temperature and cut into bars to serve.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Grilled Korean Flank Steak

So there's a restaurant in Lexington that is amazing.


It's called Nick Ryan's.

Not that I will probably actually get to go there ever again, but it was so great when I did go, I'm still living off the memory.

And I ate flank steak there.  And when the flank steak was gone, I licked my plate.


It seemed like an appropriate thing to do at the time.

This steak is similar to what I ordered.  The only part that is not similar to my "at-home" experience was the atmosphere.

Read: there were no screaming (albeit adorable) children running circles around my table at Nick Ryan's.


Okay, so the steak.  I need to make a disclaimer: I'm not going to pretend that this is authentic recipe for Korean flank steak.  Because I have no idea, really.  Maybe it is, maybe it's not.  But it's really good, and that's what matters, right?

You're going to marinate the steak overnight in a soy sauce/rice wine vinegar/garlic marinade.  One of flank steak's faults is that it can be tough...but marinating it in this combo will ensure that it's super tender.


I actually couldn't believe how tender it was.

It's so yum...the sweetness combined with the saltiness, garlicky-ness, and vinegary-ness...


But there are three rules that you must follow when you make flank steak.  Flank steak is an inexpensive cut,  and you have to treat it just right or you'll never be able to chew it up.  Just a fair warning.

First: don't cook it past medium-rare (this is my policy for any steak, but it's absolutely necessary for flank steak).  If you have issues and need to cook meat past medium rare, just throw a hamburger on the grill and burn it.


Second: let it rest for at least 10 minutes after you take it off the grill.  (This is also an important thing for anything grilled.)


Third: cut it into thin strips against the grain.  This also will ensure that it is tender.

Flank steak has great flavor but these things are important to make sure it's not tough.

Okay!  I think we're good now.  Hope you like the flank steak.

Grilled Korean Flank Steak

1 1/2 - 2 lb. flank Steak

Marinade:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 onion, peeled and grated
4 garlic cloves, grated
2 T grated fresh ginger
2 T sesame oil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

For serving: 3 green onions, sliced thin

Add marinade ingredients to a large food storage bag and squish the bag to incorporate the ingredients.  Add the flank steak and marinate for at least 8 hours or overnight.  Turn over occasionally to make sure both sides of the meat get adequate time in the marinade.

Remove steak from marinade and grill on a hot grill for about 3 minutes on each side.  Remember, we need the steak to be medium-rare.  Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes after removing it from the grill.  Slice against the grain into thin strips.  Sprinkle green onions on top.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Swiss & White Cheddar Mac 'n Cheese


Finally I cooked something new.


Well, it's not so much new, as it just is really good.  And something I haven't posted before!  So that makes it new in my book.


It's creamy and the two cheeses are perfect together.  I found Gruyere for a good price (for once!) and it was this yummy apple smoked flavor...but you could easily use Swiss cheese instead.


Plus, you don't have to make a roux!  Just add the flour and milk to the pasta and cheese and the heat from the oven will thicken the sauce.


Perfect every time.

Swiss & White Cheddar Mac 'n Cheese

8 oz. elbow macaroni (about 2 cups uncooked), cooked according to package directions and drained
10 oz. white cheddar, grated
8 oz. Swiss cheese (or Gruyere), grated
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 T flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

After draining the cooked macaroni, return it to the pot and stir in the cheeses.  In a bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients.  Add the pasta and cheese and mix well.

Pour the macaroni mixture into a greased 7x11 baking dish.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes, until bubbly and no longer soupy.  Let sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

Hi there.

Before baking.
I'm still here.

And I'm still on a blueberry kick.  The blueberries are the size of grapes.  So I felt the need to stock up.

After baking, waiting to cool.
Again.

You're going to be glad that I stocked up.

Because I made cheesecake bars for you!  I needed to show you my latest attempt to turn this little blue superfood into something less than healthy.


AND this is a great recipe because it stars...your food processor!

I love my mixer, but I my food processor is a star, too.  And it rarely gets to do something as fun as dessert.  It usually gets the pleasure of making things like gazpacho or hummus.


Not that gazpacho isn't fun.  But, let's be honest, it ain't cheesecake bars, either.

The crust:


sugar, graham crackers, butter.

And in case you're wondering, this one little package contains exactly nine graham crackers.


Isn't that convenient.  I have also read that nine graham crackers makes 1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs.  But then I read that the containers of already-ground-up graham cracker crumbs aren't as good as doing it yourself.

Just sharing my research with you, people.

I just realized that I spent years in law school learning how to research and now I use my skills to research how to make a better graham cracker crust.


My profs would be proud.

Pour the crust into an 8x8 dish that you greased.  This is so my favorite 8x8 dish, because it comes with a lid.  How handy.  It's the little things in life, y'all.

Pat it out evenly - but not too hard (you don't want it too pressed or you'll never get it out of the pan) - with a measuring cup, if you like.



Now for the filling.  Use the bowl of the food processor again.  I don't even wash it, and you can't tell.  Just scrape it clean from crust and you're good to go.

Filling:


cream cheese, sugar, eggs, lemon, vanilla paste.

I love vanilla bean paste.  You can certainly use vanilla extract, but this little jar of paste is a treasure.


Speaking of, I'm out.  I used the last little dab in these bars.  This is a tragedy!  I love this stuff and now it's gone! So I just put the empty bottle back into the cabinet.  Because it made me feel better to do that.

And I have this huge mess to clean up on my counter and I was too lazy to throw the vanilla bean paste jar in the trash.


Anyway, spread the filling on the crust.  (My camera ate my picture of my smooth, creamy filling.  I hate it when that happens.)

And top with blueberries.

This is how we roll in our house.
Bake.  But not too long. We want these creamy.

What's new?

Seriously, you'll want to take them out when they're still very jiggly in the middle, because they will set up as they cool.  And if you take it out when it's already set, then you've over-baked it.  Just another handy research tip for you.

Next time, I'm trying these with raspberries and lime juice instead of blueberries and lemon.

Life on the edge is what I'm all about.

Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
Adapted from Tyler Florence

Crust:
9 graham crackers (the amount in one sleeve of crackers)
4 T butter
1/4 cup sugar

Filling:
2 8 oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
1 1/2 cups blueberries

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, grind the crust ingredients until it is the texture of sand.  Spread evenly in an 8x8 baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Use your spatula to scrape the food processor bowl clean.  Pat the crust in the bottom but don't press too hard or you won't be able to get them out.

Return the bowl and the blade to the food processor base.  Add the filling ingredients, except for the blueberries, to the food processor bowl and blend until smooth and creamy.  Spread the filling on top of the crust.  Top evenly with blueberries.

Bake in a 325 degree oven for about 30-35 minutes.  The cheesecake will still be jiggly in the middle but it will set as it cools.  Allow the bars to come to room temperature before you refrigerate them for at least 4 hours or overnight before slicing and serving.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Peanut Butter Cookies

So I had a peanut butter cookie craving.

What of it?


So I made peanut butter cookies.

While my husband was gone.


And I ate an undisclosed number.

And my husband will find out about my baking activity when he reads this post.


And then he will ask me where the rest of the cookies are.

And I'll tell him that they're in the freezer.


If you're ever looking for something yummy in my house and all you see in the fridge is fruit, spinach, yogurt and milk, just check the freezer.

Just so you know.

Peanut Butter Cookies

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream together the butter and sugars.  Add the egg and beat again.  Add the peanut butter and incorporate. Add the flour, soda, powder and vanilla and beat until just combined.  Roll into balls and place on a baking sheet.  Press cookies with a fork.  Bake 350 degrees for about 10-14 minutes, depending on how big your cookies are and how done you want them.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts

Today we're having Brussels sprouts so tomorrow we can have cookies!  K?


K.

I saw Jamie Deen shave Brussels sprouts on his new show (which I love), and I thought it was a brilliant idea.  So I adapted his recipe.

And here you go.

You'll need butter, shallots, garlic, Brussels sprouts, salt and pepper.  And we're going to finish these with brown sugar and lemon juice.


It may sound weird, but it's so good!  You can't distinguish the lemon juice or the sugar - they just give the sprouts a wonderful, rounded flavor.


Whatever rounded means.



And I just have one last thing to say.  Saut√©ing anything in butter is not really a risky thing to do.  After all, how bad can that be?




You'll just have to see for yourself.

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts
Heavily Adapted from Jamie Deen

1 T butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed off and then shaved into thin strips
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 T brown sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Heat the butter in a skillet and add the shallots and garlic.  Saute for about a minute.  Add the shaved Brussels sprouts and saute for five minutes, stirring frequently.  Season with salt, pepper, brown sugar and lemon juice.  Stir well and remove from heat.  Serve immediately or at room temperature (I actually liked them at room temperature better).

Monday, August 6, 2012

Chicken Diablo

I forgot to blog last week.  Or maybe I just forgot to cook last week.  I can't really remember which.  I've been busy, peeps.  I had approximately 112 white onesies to wash.

Like any normal person, I have a few obsessions.  White onesies are one of them.  I firmly believe that babies must layer a onesie under any and every outfit.  Babies without onesies are so...exposed.  I just can't handle it.  Plus, is there anything cuter than a baby wearing only a diaper and a onesie?  I think not.

Exhibit A:

Middle Sis.  Two weeks old.  So precious she hurts my heart.
So, maybe the only thing cuter than a baby in a white onesie is a baby in a long-sleeved white onesie.  Oh my.

On an unrelated note, I made Chicken Diablo from Bev's blog.  I changed very little, and we liked it very much.  If you want to look at prettier pictures of this dish, then by all means visit Bev's blog.  She has a nicer camera than me.


Marinate the chicken in some of this sauce, and reserve the rest of the sauce for later.

Oh, how I love sauce.  Life would be boring without sauce.  Life would be dry without sauce.  I'm so not about dry food.

Does anyone ever say, "I love dry, burnt food."  I'm conducting a scientific poll here.  Your help is appreciated.

Sauce ingredients.
So anyway, let the chicken marinate in the sauce.  Decide that this is a perfect time to take a break from washing onesies and go shopping for a new sofa.  Take your toddlers, because it's always a good idea to take two toddlers to a furniture store.  

Not.

Watch people stare, with pity, at you wrangling two toddlers with your 38-week-pregnant belly constantly getting in the way.  Get embarrassed when you sit on one sofa to "try it out" and then your husband has to pull you up.  Decide that your husband will try out all sofas in the future to avoid humiliation.  

Big Sis announces that she has to go potty "now!".  While you are taking one child potty, the other child poops in her diaper.  (TMI?)

The whole west wing of the (large) furniture store stinks when you return from the potty.  (Definitely TMI.)


Remove the children from the store.  Change the diaper in the car to avoid receiving another dirty (pun intended) look from the sales clerk.  It is currently 98 degrees outside.  It feels more like 108 degrees on the asphalt.  Consider leaving the soiled diaper in the parking lot simply because walking back to the trash can next to the store's door seems too daunting a task in the heat.  

Do the right thing and hike back through the parking lot to properly dispose of the stink.

Leave the furniture store, convince yourself that your current sofa is just fine, and make a pact with your husband that you will buy new furniture when the last child goes to college.

They're just going to draw on it, spill food/milk on it, step on it, tear it up and/or simply destroy it in the meantime.


Return home.  Cook the chicken and serve it on top of a bed of rice.  With lots of sauce.

Like this.


After all, life's about the sauce.  

This is sweet, spicy and different.  Very yummy.  Not too hot.  Not too sweet.  Just make it, okay?

Chicken Diablo
Heavily Adapted from Bev Cooks


Sauce:
1/2 cup Frank's Red-Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup ketsup
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp cumin
2 garlic cloves, grated

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 T olive oil
3 scallions, sliced

Hot cooked rice, for serving

Whisk together the ingredients for the sauce.  Place the chicken and about half of the sauce in a Ziploc.  Squish it around to make sure the chicken is evenly coated in the sauce.  Place the chicken in the refrigerator for about two hours for it to marinate.

Store the rest of the sauce in the refrigerator.

Heat the oil in a skillet.  Saute the chicken for about 5 minutes on each side, until cooked through.  Pour the remaining sauce on top of the chicken and heat through.  Serve on top of a bed of rice with plenty of sauce poured on top.  Sprinkle chopped scallions on top.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bruschetta Chicken with Angel Hair Pasta

This recipe is linked to the Weekend Potluck!

Remember my big long dramatic story from Monday about water and near-death experiences?


Me too.  But that's beside the point.  Because the point of this post is to show you what I did with the bruschetta besides put it on garlic-toasted baguettes.


I tossed it with angel hair pasta and put a perfectly-grilled piece of chicken on top.


It is summer in a bowl, my friends.


My husband loved.  For goodness' sake, I loved it.

And it kept us from eating an entire baguette with the bruschetta.


It was perfectly light, fresh and delicious.  I don't normally love un-cooked tomato sauces, but I loved this one.


I don't normally consider myself "alternative," but this dish is a perfect alternative to merely eating the bruschetta on toast.  That's all I'm sayin'.

Bruschetta Chicken with Angel Hair Pasta


12 oz. angel hair pasta, cooked until al dente (about 5 minutes)
4 chicken breast cutlets (about 5 oz. each)
Olive oil, for chicken
Salt, pepper and garlic powder for seasoning chicken
1 recipe bruschetta

Sprinkle the chicken with olive oil on both sides then season with the salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Grill until no longer pink.

Gently toss the pasta with the bruschetta.  To serve, make a nest of pasta with the bruschetta sauce in a pasta bowl.  Top with a piece of chicken.  Add one spoonful of sauce on top of the chicken.