Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Chocolate Ribbon Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

We haven't had dessert in awhile!  It's high time, y'all.

So here we are.  Chocolate Ribbon Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars.


And the good news is that this is a totally legit breakfast!  Because in my world, anything containing oats and/or peanut butter is considered a healthy breakfast.

The breakfast rule still applies even if it also contains, butter, sugar, and chocolate chips.  Oh, and peanut butter chips.

See, these bars are totally a healthy breakfast.  Or an energy snack.  Like a power bar!  Or I guess they could be dessert.

It's totally your call.

So let's make some granola bars.  Or something like that.

Make the batter first.  The batter doubles as the crust and the crumble topping.

And what goes in the middle, you say?  Why, chocolate ribbon, of course.

You'll need to melt together some peanut butter, chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk for the chocolate ribbon.

Are you picking up what I'm puttin' down?

Spread out the chocolate, and then crumble the remaining batter on top.

Now you can bake it if you want.  In my world, baking is optional.  Raw eggs don't scare me!

So anyway.  Just make these things, because it just don't get no better than chocolate and peanut butter.  For breakfast.

Chocolate Ribbon Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

For the cookie dough:
1 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned oats (you can use quick-cooking but your bars will have less texture)
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

10 oz. bag Reese's peanut butter chips (about 1 2/3 cups)
1 cup milk chocolate chips

For the chocolate ribbon filling:
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 T butter
1/2 tsp salt

In a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle mixer attachment, beat together the butter, peanut butter and both sugars.  Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.  Add the oats, flour, baking soda and salt and mix until just combined.  Add the peanut butter chips and milk chocolate chips and stir until combined.  Do not over-mix the dough.

Press 2/3 of the dough into a 9x13 baking dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Now make the chocolate ribbon filling.

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the sweetened condensed milk, semisweet chocolate chips, peanut butter, butter and salt until just melted and combined.  Spread the chocolate ribbon filling evenly over the cookie dough in the dish.

Crumble the remaining 1/3 cookie dough over the top of the chocolate ribbon.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 23-26 minutes.  Do not overbake.  Cool completely before cutting.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Southwest Quinoa Salad

I need to show you what I had for lunch today.

It was so good!

I'm still so into quinoa, which I have learned is a seed.  Not a grain.  Who knew.  Maybe you did, but this is news to me.  A seed.  How weird.  But so nutty and good.

You see, I have very few pictures of my salad because my children were tearing the house down around my ears.  But my salad was well worth the destruction.

I love salad for lunch.  Salad sans lettuce, that is.

I am also in love with avocados, so I chopped some up and added them.

This is an improvement from last week, when I loved cookies.

I'm going green, people.  Today, that is.

I'll be having this for lunch all week.

Feel free to stop by and share it with me.

And there you have it.

Southwest Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa
1 3/4 cup water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup lime juice
1 T olive oil
1 T cumin
15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz. can corn, drained
1 onion, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 bunch cilantro, minced

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan and stir in the quinoa and salt.  Simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the quinoa is cooked and the water is absorbed.  Pour the cooked quinoa into a large bowl and add the pepper, lime juice, olive oil and cumin.  Toss to combine and allow it to cool for a few minutes before adding the remaining ingredients.  Check for seasonings - you may need to add salt and/or pepper.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fresh Apple Cake

We made our annual pilgrimage to the orchard.

I just love the orchard, and so my girls.  Someday my boy will love it too.  But right now he just loves his mama.  Yes, that's him in the pink pouch in the first pic...bless his heart.

When I was a kid, we would go to the orchard every year.  We would pick apples, watch them make cider, and buy a pumpkin.

Now, the orchard is a whole thing.  There are slides, playgrounds, haystacks to climb, hayrides, pony rides, a petting zoo and a cafe (complete with hotdogs, chili, and everything apple you can name).

Naturally, we bought apples at the orchard.

And just as naturally, I turned something healthy into something less than healthy.

What can I say.  That's how I roll.

So here's how I did it!  No mixer necessary for this cake!  Just a big bowl and a whisk.

Start with the sugar, eggs, vanilla, veg oil, buttermilk and lemon juice.

Now add the flour, salt, soda and cinnamon.

Chop up the apples and add those.

Now, you can also add coconut.  I left it out this time, so I added an extra cup of apples to replace the coconut.

Grease a bundt pan really really well and pour the cake batter in.

My cake baked for about 55 minutes, but just start checking it at that point.  Once your cake tester comes out clean, pull your cake out.

Right before the cake is done, make the glaze.  Melt butter, sugar, buttermilk and baking soda together in a saucepan.

Bring it to a boil and boil it for exactly one minute.

Watch out, though, because the soda will make this mixture like quintuple in size.  So use a big pan.

When the cake comes out, poke holes all over it with a fork.

And pour on the glaze!

It's a lot, but just keep pouring.  The cake will drink it up.

Let the cake cool completely before turning it out on a cake plate.

And slice it for your friends.

It don't get no moister, y'all.

Happy fall.

Fresh Apple Cake
Adapted from Paula Deen

1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 T vanilla extract
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup lemon juice (juice of about 1 lemon)
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 T plus 1 tsp cinnamon
3 cups finely diced apples (like Rome, Granny Smith or another type of baking apple)
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp baking soda

Whisk together the cake ingredients until incorporated.  Pour into a very well greased bundt pan.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 55 minutes or until done (a cake tester will come out clean).   As soon as cake comes out of the oven, poke holes in the top with a toothpick.

Just before the cake comes out of the oven, make the glaze.  Bring glaze ingredients to a boil and boil for exactly one minute.  Pour glaze over cake as soon as cake comes out of the oven.

Allow cake to sit in the pan until cool, absorbing the glaze.  Invert on a cake plate and slice and serve.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Whole Crock Pot Chicken

Do you want to see the reason I haven't been posting much lately?

Baby Bear
I mean, are you kidding me.  I could just eat him.

So, I would cook and post about it, but I have this sweet face to feed.  No cooking required!  He's not picky, and he likes everything I give him.  Even though it's the same thing every day!  Sweet boy.

Life is good, I tell you.

So I'll make this quick.  I'm loving my crock pot these days...and I discovered that it makes the most tender chicken I've ever made.  In my life.  I may never make chicken any other way.  Ever again.

Take an onion, chop it up.  Put it in the bottom of the crock pot.

Wash a chicken and put it on top.  Sprinkle salt and pepper on top.

Put the top on and turn it on high.  No liquid needed.  Let it go for about 5-6 hours.  Until it's totally fall-apart tender.  Then hover over your crock pot and pull the meat from the bone and eat it.

Oh, wait.  I guess that's just me.  You should probably cool it, shred up the chicken (not much shredding necessary...it will literally just fall apart on you).

This chicken is so good in casseroles, salads...basically anything you need cooked chicken for, do it in the crock pot.  You won't be sorry.  And maybe the best part is the free stock you'll get...just strain it and freeze it to use later!

See ya later.  I have to go snuggle with my boy.

Whole Crock Pot Chicken

1 onion, chopped
1 whole chicken, giblets removed and washed
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Place the chopped onion in the bottom of the crock pot.  Place the chicken on top and sprinkle on the salt and pepper.  Put the lid on and cook on high for 4-5 hours (until the chicken is totally falling apart).  Cool long enough to shred the chicken.  Use for casseroles, salads or anything else you can think of.

The chicken should yield about 5 cups of stock.  I strain the stock and freeze it for later use.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Toffee Chip Cookies

I got braces, y'all.

Yes, I'm actually 12 years old.

No really.  It's an adventure to get braces after 30.  And I'll leave it at that.

My biggest regret: not eating a fat juicy steak before my fun little visit to the orthodontist.

But that's neither here nor there, because here are my toffee chip cookies.  I wish I had eaten a few more of these, too, before I met my orthodontist.

Since you're probably not 12 years old and you probably don't have braces, you should make these cookies.

Toffee and chocolate chips.

I mean, what's not to like.

Even 12-year-olds would like them.

As long as they're not wearing braces.

Toffee Chip Cookies

12 T cold butter (1 1/2 sticks)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 cups plus 2 T flour
8 oz. package Heath milk chocolate toffee bits
1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and both sugars until they are combined and smooth.  Add the eggs and vanilla and incorporated.  Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the mixer.  Add the salt, baking soda, flour, toffee bits and chocolate chips and pulse the mixer a few times to begin to combine the dough.  Finish mixing the dough with a spatula, being careful not to overmix.  Mix just until combined.  Use a medium-sized cookie scoop (about 2 tablespoons) and place on a cookie sheet.  Bake for about 12 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Cool slightly before transferring to wax paper to cool.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup

This is my sister-in-law Katie's soup.

She made it for me after we spent the day at the zoo.

I could have eaten the entire Crock Pot of soup.

Everybody into the pool!

But I didn't.

Cut some tortillas into strips and add them...they add flavor and thicken the soup.
Even though I wanted to.

So I came home and made it.

I love perfect avocados.
It's so fall-ish and warm and Mexican-y and yummy.  And low-fat!  Until you add the toppings, anyway.

Start with some crumbled tortilla chips...

But whatever.

Ladle on some soup...

We all loved it.

Add some sour cream...

Almost as much as I love my Crock Pot.

And some cheese...

I'm obsessed with this thing.

and avocado!  Yum!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
7 oz. can chopped green chiles, not drained
15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
11 oz. can Mexicorn, drained
11 oz. can Chipotle corn, drained
15 oz. can diced tomatoes, not drained
10 oz. can Rotel, not drained
1 oz. package dry ranch dressing mix
1 oz. package dry taco seasoning
4 cups chicken stock
6 6-inch white corn tortillas, sliced into thin strips
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped

For serving:
tortilla chips
sour cream
shredded Monterey Jack cheese
sliced avocado

Place all ingredients for the soup, except the chicken and cilantro, into a slow cooker.  Stir well.  Cook on high for 4 hours.  Add the chicken and cook another 1-2 hours.  Before serving, stir in the chopped cilantro.

Serve with chips, sour cream, cheese and avocado.