Thursday, May 31, 2012

Serving Up {Cookies}: S'more Bars

Tomorrow night my husband and my sons will be participating in a favorite annual event - the Father & Sons camp out!  My boys truly look forward to going camping with their dad every year and this year my youngest will be joining them, so my daughter and I will get our very own girl's night out (or in).

When I think about camping I think about s'mores.  Yum!  S'mores and s'more variations have sure made their mark all over the recipe sites lately.  I, for one, am not complaining.  This recipe for a s'more blondie bar really hit the flavor of a s'more right on the head.  The addition of the graham cracker crumbs is perfect, and I think the texture and flavor were even better the day after.

The best part of the recipe?  All the flavor of the s'more without getting dirty or smelling like campfire smoke.  Definitely a winning combination.

                          Granola Pudding Parfait

(recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe)
2 cups flour
2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2  eggs
2 cups marshmallow creme
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9X13-inch pan with foil and grease the foil with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until light, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until well combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing until combined. Divide the dough in half. Press half into the bottom of the prepared pan until the dough is evenly flattened. Dollop the marshmallow topping on top of the cookie base and gently spread into an even layer. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.

Scatter the remaining dough over the top in clumps. Don’t worry about completely covering the top, the marshmallow and chocolate chips should peek through. Bake the bars until golden brown, about 30-32 minutes. Cool completely. Remove the bars from the pan by lifting out the foil.  Cut into bars and serve.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Serving Up {Bread}: Mile High Biscuits

I am bound and determined to perfect the making of biscuits.  Why biscuits?  Why not?

If you have ever had a good biscuit, and I mean gooooood biscuit, you will know that they are worth perfecting.  I kind of want to be known as the biscuit lady and so I have been trying a lot of biscuit recipes.  This particular recipe was a pinterest find...and I just had to go with the 18,000 pins as being a good sign (by the way, I know that because my Strawberry Cream Cake recently hit 18,000 pins so I consider it a good number).  This really is a great recipe and is currently my favorite recipe...I will keep you posted should another recipe bypass this one in my search for the ultimate biscuit!

One Year Ago: Sweet Grape Salad

(recipe from Deals to Meals)

3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 stick butter
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Combine the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and butter until crumbly (see my butter tip here). Mix (BY HAND) in buttermilk, egg and just enough water to make a workable dough. Mix the dough until it is just barely combined (don't over mix). Roll the dough onto a floured cutting board about 1-1 1/2 inch thick. Cut with a 2 inch biscuit cutter (or a 2 inch round cup). Place on a greased baking sheet (touching each other) and bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from oven and generously brush with melted butter.
Makes about 12 biscuits, depending how thick you make them.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Serving Up {Vegetable}: Roasted Broccoli

I love roasted vegetables enough that I knew that I would love this recipe before I even tried it (it didn't hurt that it's Ina Garten's recipe, so you know it is going to be delicious!).  Luckily I did try it and it was the hit that I expected it to be!  Even my three year old was declaring his adoration for the broccoli - and that NEVER happens!

                        Spinach Pie

(recipe from Ina Garten)

2 to 2 1/2  pounds broccoli
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
Good olive oil
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbs. pine nuts, toasted
2 Tbs. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs. julienned fresh basil leaves (about 6 leaves)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalks, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets, discarding the rest of the stalks. Cut the larger pieces through the base of the head with a small knife, pulling the florets apart. You should have about 4 cups of florets. Place the broccoli florets on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Toss the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.

Remove the broccoli from the oven and immediately toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, Parmesan, and basil. Serve hot.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Serving Up {Fish}: Unbeatable Salmon

I was looking through my recipe box recently and realized that I haven't posted a single fish recipe on the blog.  We really do eat fish!  We even have some recipes that are pretty darn good!  So I made a very deliberate effort this week to cook salmon for dinner on Sunday so that I could share this delicious recipe for salmon.

The thing that I love about this recipe is that it is a dry rub that stores effortlessly.  Combine the seasonings and store them in an airtight container, and you are prepared at a moments notice to have a delicious salmon dinner.

One Year Ago: Pizza Roll Ups (a family favorite)
                        Polenta Bread

(recipe from Julie J.)
printable version

3 Tbs. salt
2 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. brown sugar
2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. celery seed
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. ground fennel seed
Salmon Fillets

Combine all the seasonings in a small bowl, which will make enough rub for multiple uses.  Store excess in an airtight container.

Wash salmon fillets and gently pat dry.  Rub seasoning mixture over the salmon and grill (outdoors) or broil (indoors) until the fish flakes easily.

I almost always coat the salmon with a thin layer of mayo prior to rubbing in the seasonings.  It keeps the fish very moist.  My cousin (who is who I got the recipe from) recommends drizzling honey over the fillets before sprinkling the rub on, although I have never personally tried that.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Serving Up {Tip}: Lemon Zest

I love a little tang of lemon zest and yet I used to dread seeing "lemon zest" in a recipe because I felt foolish purchasing a lemon simply for the purpose of zesting it and wasting the rest.  I say used to because thanks to my family's green smoothie habit, we go through lemons quickly these days so it isn't the issue that it used to be.  Actually, now my issue is the reverse - I use a lemon every day or two and hate seeing the perfectly good zest go to waste.  So I have a solution and it works brilliantly.

When I purchase my lemons, I wash them in the same fruit wash as the rest of my produce and then I zest a weeks worth of lemons.  I know the lemons will be used shortly for smoothies so I am not concerned with that they will dry out after being zested.

I then take the zest and place it in a freezer jar and freeze it.  It freezes perfectly and retains it's bright flavor if used within a reasonable time.  No more issues with lemon zest and you can begin experimenting by adding it to all kinds of recipes.  I personally like to add it to salad dressings (here is a favorite), I add it to pancakes, waffles and muffins and it is absolutely DIVINE in chocolate chip cookies or oatmeal cookies.   I am dead serious about the chocolate chip cookies - try it!

What do you add lemon zest to?

                        Honey Red Wine Vinaigrette
                        Creme Brulee French Toast

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Serving Up {Dessert}: Carmelitas

Doesn't the word "Carmelitas" just sound exotic...maybe a bit dangerous or forbidden....or tempting!  Definitely yes to tempting and while you are at it lets add amazing and delicious and addicting and gone!

I have read a fair number of recipes for carmelitas and this recipe hooked me because instead of using jarred caramel sauce, you unwrap little caramel squares and melt them with cream and the result is SO MUCH BETTER than jarred sauce.  Trust me on this!  Just go on and write "caramels" on the grocery list right now. Better yet, just go slip on your shoes and make a quick run to the market.  You will thank me in an hour from now when you are enjoying your first bite of this...

One Year Ago: Homemade Wheat Bread
                        Starbuck's Coffee Cake

(recipe adapted from LuLu the Baker)

1 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cup flour
2 cup rolled oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

60 caramel squares, unwrapped
3/4 cup heavy cream

In a medium bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, baking soda and salt. Pat half of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of an 9x13" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine caramels and cream in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring between each time until caramel is melted and smooth.

Remove pan from the oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the crust. Pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips. Crumble remaining oatmeal mixture over caramel. Return to oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Serving Up: Broccoli, Grape and Pasta Salad

As we enter summer I find myself craving light meals and meals that don't require the stove or oven to be turned on.  This salad fits the bill and makes a perfect summertime meal.  It is light and refreshing and is satisfying enough to be called dinner.  Although, it would also make a perfect accompaniment to some chicken right off the grill if you are opposed to a meatless meal.

My kids are still too young to appreciate a salad like this.  Although they like every single ingredient, once they are tossed together they become seemingly untouchable - so at our house this is served with a side of chicken nuggets (or something similarly child friendly) while my husband and I enjoy the salad as though we are enjoying a secret that only we share.

One Year Ago:  Pumpkin Muffins
                          Mallow Fruit Dip

(recipe from Southern Living)
printable version

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 (16-oz.) package bow-tie pasta
1 pound fresh broccoli
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup diced red onion
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
8 cooked bacon slices, crumbled

Prepare pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile, cut broccoli florets from stems, and separate florets into small pieces using tip of a paring knife.
Whisk together mayonnaise, sugar, red onion, vinegar and salt in a large bowl.  To the dressing add the broccoli, cooked pasta, and grapes and stir to coat.
Cover and chill for at least 3 hours.
Stir bacon and pecans into salad just before serving.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Serving Up {Muffins}: Cinnamon Ripple Muffins

I have mentioned before that Sunday mornings are our family Muffin Mornings so, as a result, we go through a lot of muffin recipes.  Not many recipes get made more than once.  And even fewer get posted to the blog. These muffins were a pleasant surprise (my daughter found the recipe on a kid's website so I didn't have high expectations) and an instant hit.  Everyone was in agreement that we needed to add this recipe to the weekly rotation and luckily I snapped a photo before all the muffins were eaten!

These muffins taste just like miniature coffee cakes, complete with the little cinnamon swirl (or ripple as per the name).  The key to making them is to add the cinnamon ripple to the batter and then only fold it in a couple of times - you DO NOT want to mix it into the batter completely.  The result is the ripple of cinnamon, buttery goodness that makes these muffins a hit!

One Year Ago:  Favorite Mint Brownies
                          Roasted Asparagus

(recipe from Family Fun)

Cinnamon Ripple
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 Tbs. butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup flour
2 tsp. cinnamon

Muffin Batter
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla

Heat the oven to 400 degrees and prepare 12 muffin cups by greasing or lining with muffin papers.

Combine all the cinnamon ripple ingredients in medium bowl and use an electric mixer to blend them well.  Set the mixture aside.

In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy.  Continue to beat and add each egg, buttermilk and vanilla.  Stir in the dry ingredients by hand just until the batter is blended.  Sprinkle the cinnamon ripple over the batter and use a spatula to fold it in a couple of times.

Divide the batter between the muffin cups and bake for 12 minutes or until a toothpick tests clean.  Let the muffins cool for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Serving Up {Chicken}: Honey Bourbon Chicken

With the warmer weather of summer now upon us (we've only had short glimpses of summer, truth be known), it is really nice to fall back on crock pot recipes so that I don't have to heat up the entire kitchen.  I also find myself using the crock pot frequently on Sundays, at least with our current church schedule, so that dinner is ready when I walk in the door at 4:45 p.m.

This recipe was a pinterest find that was very well received by the entire family.  But to feed the entire family I had to use more than the 1 pound of chicken that the original recipe called for.  The first time I made it we had guests over for dinner so I tripled the chicken amount to 3+ pounds and then doubled the recipe for the sauce.  I still felt that there was more sauce than was needed, which was a waste of ingredients in my book.  So as I wrote this recipe, I wrote the amounts for the sauce as the original recipe called for but would suggest using 2-3 pounds of chicken to that amount.  There is still PLENTY of sauce and then you don't have to cringe when sauce is thrown out (or am I the only one that hates to waste honey at it's current price point?).

One Year Ago: Baked Oatmeal
                          Cream Cheese Enchiladas

(recipe from Real Mom Kitchen)
printable version

2-3 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (chicken breasts could be substituted but thighs are more moist)
salt and pepper
1/2 cup diced onion
1 cup of honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1-2 Tbsp. cornstarch
hot rice
sesame seeds, optional

Salt and pepper the chicken and place in your crockpot.  Place the onion on top of the chicken.
In a medium sized bowl, combine honey, soy sauce, ketchup, oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Pour mixture over the chicken in the crockpot.  Cook on low for 3-4 hours.

Remove chicken from crock pot and slice into strips and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine 1 Tbsp cornstarch with 1 Tbsp water. Pour the sauce from the crock pot into a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add the cornstarch mixture, stirring to combine.  Heat and stir as it thickens.  If the sauce is not thick enough repeat with another tablespoon of the cornstarch/water.

Place the chicken back in a serving dish and pour the thickened sauce over it and and stir well to coat.
Serve chicken over cooked rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional).

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Serving Up {Cookies}: Decadent Chocolate Bars

Goodness, I feel like I have been absent from blogging forever!  I don't know how some food bloggers do it - blogging right through giving birth and moving across the country.  I haven't got a new home or a new baby as my excuse - just busy and pretty poor time management.  But my intentions are good and I hope to post enough in the next couple of days to fill in the gaps so that nobody will ever know I was gone.

Consider this recipe for these deep, divine, decadent chocolate bars as my penance for my absence.   Bonus is that they require very few ingredients and are SO quick to throw together.  The recipe does call for nuts and I will just tell you right now that I don't believe nuts belong in baked goods - I like to snack on nuts, I like them in my granola and on my salads, but stay away from my baked goods!  Except that they are really good and the perfect compliment to this recipe so this is one of my very few baked recipes that gets nuts.  And while they can be left out (because, believe me I get the "remove nuts from baked goods" movement) I would suggest giving them a try...but I will leave that decision entirely up to you.

                           Rosemary Herbed Potatoes


1 3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 cup cold butter
12 ounces chocolate chips
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, powdered sugar and cocoa.  Cut cold butter into flour mixture and combine well to make a crust consistency.  Press crust mixture into a greased 13x9 pan.  Bake for 15 minutes.  

While the crust is baking, combine 1 cup chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla in a small saucepan and melt until smooth. 

When crust finishes baking, immediately pour chocolate sauce evenly over the top of it.  Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips and nuts (optional).  Return to the oven for 20 minutes.

Cool before cutting into bars.