Monday, November 22, 2010

Oven-Fried Parmesan Chicken

I found this recipe on a Yahoo site and decided to try it. It turned out pretty well, but we had leftovers for days. I would add a few more spices (especially salt) to the breading or to the chicken itself, but overall, it was pretty tasty and easy...once I got all the skin off the chicken.

2 eggs, beaten
1/4 c. milk
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
1/2 c. fine dry bread crumbs
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. black pepper
4 lbs. meat chicken pieces, skinned (I used 16 drumsticks)
3 Tbl. butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 375 degree F. Grease two large shallow baking pans; set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine egg and milk.
3. In a shallow dish, combine Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, oregano, paprika, and pepper.
4. Dip chicken pieces into egg mixture; coat with crumb mixture.
5. Arrange chicken pieces in prepared baking pans, making sure pieces don't touch. Drizzle chicken pieces with melted butter.
6. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink (170 degree F for breasts; 180° degree F for thighs and drumsticks). Do not turn chicken pieces during baking. Immediately transfer chicken to a covered container; serve within 1 hour. (Or cover and chill chicken; transport in an insulated container with ice packs.)

Lemon Cheesecake Cookie Bars

So I found this recipe on some site, and decided to make them because I had a lot of cream cheese sitting around. And cream cheese is my favorite dessert component of all time (sorry, chocolate), so I figured, why not? The original recipe didn't call for so much lemon/lime, but I wanted to use up the ones in the fridge. Plus, I know Zak likes citrus flavors. Oh, and I added in raspberries from the freezer to balance out the citrus zing.

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup melted butter
8 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
5 -6 Tbl. fresh lemon juice
3 Tbl. fresh lime juice
1 - 2 Tbl. grated lemon zest
1/2 Tbl. grated lime zest
10 or so raspberries
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Mix brown sugar, nuts & flour together.
2. Stir in the butter and work until it resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside 1 cup of the mixture for the topping; press the rest firmly into the bottom of an 8x8" pan.
3. Bake at 350° for 12 - 15 minutes; leave oven on.
4. While crust is baking, cream the cream cheese and sugar together.
5. Add the egg, lemon & lime juices, milk, vanilla, zests, vanilla. Beat thoroughly. Add raspberries (if desired), beat thoroughly. Pour over baked crust
6. Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture over top of cream cheese mixture; bake for 20 - 25 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into squares. Makes 16 2" cookie bars.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cranberry Bread

I remember my mom making this recipe a lot around Christmas time and giving them as gifts to her friends, people in the ward, etc. I am thinking of making this for some of my friends for Christmas, but wanted to do a 'test run' before. I played around with the recipe and it came out just delicious! Zak took some to work and it was a hit, so it looks like my plans will continue as scheduled...

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbl. lemon zest
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
6 Tablespoons plain yogurt
1-1/2 cups fresh cranberries, washed

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Sift together flours, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar; set aside.
3. Place sugar & lemon zest in a food processor or blender and process until lemon zest is finely grated.
4. Add butter and process until smooth; add eggs one at a time; mix well.
5. Add vanilla and yogurt and mix until smooth; transfer mixture to a separate bowl.
6. Place cranberries in food processor and pulse on and off until coarsely chopped.
7. Add cranberries to dry mixture, mix to combine.
8. Stir butter-yogurt mixture into flour-cranberry mixture and mix well.
9. Place into greased/floured pans and bake 50-60 minutes (40 for mini loaves) or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
10. Cool on a rack for 30 minutes; remove from pans and continue cooling. Wrap well and refrigerate 24 hours before serving.

This bread freezes really well. This recipe makes either one big loaf or three mini loaves.

Pumpkin Bars

Ok, pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting are one of my favorite desserts. I love them. Pretty much anything with cream cheese frosting is a favorite of mine. It's a weakness. I made some modifications to my mom's recipe (no offense, Mom, just wanted to experiment), and they turned out really good--dense & moist. Zak practically ate half of the pan in one fell swoop, he loves them.

2 eggs
3/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbl. canola oil
1 c. plain pumpkin
1/2 tsp. baking soda
dash of salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. white flour

3.5 oz. neufchatel or cream cheese
1/4 c. butter
1 c. powdered sugar
1.5 Tbl. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla

1. Beat eggs, sugars, oil, applesauce and pumpkin until light.
2. Sift together baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and flours.
3. Combine mixtures.
4. Bake in greased 9"x13" pan at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
5. Cool completely and frost.

I cut these into small little squares, and got about 32 squares.

Banana Nut Muffins

I found this recipe online and decided to give it a try, since we had a ton of bananas about to go bad. They were easy to make and very yummy! I froze some, I hope they freeze well! I've been playing around lately with making recipes with whole wheat flour, far everything I've tried has worked out, and no one even notices!

1 c. white flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 Tbl. baking powder
1/4 c. salt
3 c. mashed banana
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. nonfat plain yogurt (I only had vanilla at the time, still worked fine)
2 eggs
3/4 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
1 -2 dash cinnamon
dash nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease muffin pan.
2. Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, beat together banana, sugar, egg and vanilla.
4. Stir in the yogurt.
5. Add banana yogurt mixture to flour, stir until just combined.
6. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool before serving.
Makes 24 muffins.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pumpkin Cookies

I LOVE these cookies. They are the perfect autumn cookie and are easy to make. I have a bunch of recipes involving pumpkin I got from my mom, who had compiled them for a church activity years ago. So I used the recipe I grew up knowing and will pass it along to you. Zak requested that I try raisins next time, since it's more of a spice cookie. I told him that I originally signed up for plain chocolate chip cookies to bring to work, so I didn't want to change that completely. They are great with chocolate chips, and I'm sure they'd be great with raisins too!

1/2 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
1 egg
1 c. pumpkin
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 c. chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, greased cookie sheet.
2. Cream butter together with sugars.
3. Add in egg, pumpkin and vanilla; beat until smooth.
4. Mix in flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and baking powder; beat until smooth.
5. Add in chocolate chips.
6. Drop by spoonfuls onto prepared sheet, bake for 8 - 10 minutes.

This makes about 20 cookies, depending on the size of the spoonfuls. I doubled this recipe and had lots for work.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fudgy Brownies

This is from the Bridal BH&G recipe book. I really wanted brownies on Sunday so I just made them. Oh and decided to go for the chocolate-cream cheese frosting because, why not, right? The brownies were good, but the frosting was the best (in my opinion).

1/2 c. butter
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
2. In medium saucepan, melt butter and unsweetened chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; cool.
3. Grease an 8"x 8" (or 9"x 9") pan, set aside.
4. Stir sugar into cooled chocolate mixture in saucepan. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating with spoon until just combined. Stir in the vanilla.
5. Add flour and baking soda to chocolate; stir until just combined.
6. Spread batter into the pan, bake for 30 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack; if desired, frost with Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting; cut into bars.

chocolate-cream cheese frosting
In a saucepan, melt 1 c. semisweet chocolate pieces over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; cool slightly. In a small bowl, stir together two 3-oz. packages softened cream cheese and 1/2 c. powdered sugar. Stir into melted chocolate until smooth.

Slow-Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

My mom sent this recipe to me and I decided to try it. It looked simple enough, and since crockpot recipes are fabulous for days when we both work, I threw it together last week. We came home to the most delicious aroma and I immediately got to work on the chicken. I was nervous because I've never done anything with chicken and bones. But I managed to get 90% of everything in the big pot, we did spot a few tiny bones in our bowls, but removed them before we choked, you know. Anyways, I learned that I can 'debone' a chicken after it's cooked for several hours, and that my crockpot is just big enough to fit this entire recipe. Oh, and that we should have this when friends come over because we have 3 pieces of tupperware with our leftovers in it.

8 c. water
4 medium carrots, cut into 1/4" slices
4 medium stalks celery, cut into 1/4" slices
1 small onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. dried thmye
salt & pepper
1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 lbs.)
3 c. egg noodles, uncoked

1. In a 4 1/2 - 6 qt. slow-cooker bowl, combine water, carrots, celery, onion, bay leaves, thyme, 4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp pepper.
2. Place whole chicken on top of vegetables; cover with lid and cook on low setting for 8 - 10 hours or high for 4 - 5 hours.
3. Transfer chicken to cutting board. Discard bay leaves. Add noodles to slow-cooker bowl; cover with lid and cook (on low or high) 20 minutes.
4. While noodles cook, remove and discard skin, fat and bones from chicken; shred meat.
5. Skim fat from soup and discard, return chicken to soup and serve.

if pictures could emit scent...

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

A few weeks ago, I got a hankerin' for peanut sauce and chicken. And since we had two full jars of peanut butter (miscommunication on Zak's part, ha), I decided to find a recipe for peanut sauce. The recipe below turned out well, we ended up cooking the chicken on the stove instead of grilling it, which I thought was easier. As far as the sauce goes, I kept adding soy sauce, lime juice and red pepper flakes until it was what we wanted. Enjoy!

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 garlic clove, smashed
juice of 1 lime
1/2 c. peanut butter
more lime juice (I bought 2, and used some stuff in a bottle as well)
a few Tbl. soy sauce
1 - 2 pinches of red pepper flakes
1 tsp. brown sugar
chicken brother or water
salt and pepper

1. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces.
2. In a bowl, combine the juice from one line with a smashed clove of garlic, add to chicken and marinate for at least 5 minutes.
3. Whisk together peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, brown sugar and enough water/chicken broth to make a smooth sauce.
4. If you want to grill the chicken, set aside most of the sauce for dipping, and smear the rest on the chicken; thread chicken onto skewers and grill for 2 mins. on each side.
5. I chose to cook the chicken with a little butter on the stove until fully cooked, then served it over rice and drizzled with the peanut sauce.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Spinach & Four-Cheese Stuffed Shells with Marinara Sauce

I got this craving for a stuffed pasta dish, so I hunted all over the internet for a recipe I liked. I found one that looked easy (enough) and delicious, so I thought I'd try it on my next day off. The gal who submitted the recipe also had a recipe for the sauce, so I tried that as well. And although I bought manicotti, I was not confident enough that I could stuff them properly, so I chose to cook the giant shell pasta. Our friends came over and we devoured 95% of it! Anyways, it was yummy, and I'll make it again, with a few minor tweaks, I'm sure.

First up, the marinara sauce.
3 - 4 Tbl. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 - 6 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbl. dried basil
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste (can use two for thicker, richer sauce)
1 (28 oz.) can whole tomatoes, undrained and broken up with a fork before cooking
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt (I used more)
fresh ground black pepper to taste

1. Heat oil over medium-high heat.
2. Add in onions, garlic, dried red pepper flakes, basil and oregano; saute for 3 - 4 minutes.
3. Add in tomato paste and stir for 2 - 3 minutes.
4. Add in the tomatoes with their juice; simmer uncovered over low heat for 1 - 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
5. Season with salt, pepper and sugar.
(for a thinner sauce, add in some water)

stuffed pasta

3 Tbl. oil
1/4 c. onion, finely chopped
2 tsp. fresh garlic (about 2 cloves)
1 1/2 c. ricotta cheese
1 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese (can use a bit more)
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 c. grated parmesan cheese (can use a bit more)
1 tsp. italian seasoning
salt to taste
1/2 - 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper (or to taste)
1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach (cooked according to package directions, then hand-squeezed dry to remove excess moisture)
10 manicotti (or 3/4 box large shells), cooked and drained
4 - 6 c. marinara sauce (see above)
1/4 c. parmesan cheese
mozzarella cheese, for topping

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Butter a 9" x 13" baking dish.
3. In a skillet, saute onion in oil for about 4 minutes or until softened (add in garlic the last 2 minutes).
4. In a mixing bowl combine ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese, cream cheese, 6 Tbl. parmesan cheese, italian seasoning; beat until smooth and well combined.
5. Stir in onion mixture and spinach, season and mix well to combine.
6. Spoon into cooked and cooled shells.
7. Pour half of the pasta sauce into the baking dish.
8. Arrange shells over sauce, top with remaining sauce.
9. Sprinkle about 1/4 c. parmesan cheese (or less) over the sauce.
10. Cover and bake for 25 minutes.
11. Uncover and top with mozzarella cheese, bake 5 minutes longer, or until cheese is melted.
12. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Individual Cream Cheese Danishes

I came across these on and decided to make them for a LOTR marathon with my friend. They are sooo easy to make and quite yummy, they got gobbled up! Zak requested some fruit flavor next time, so I think I might blend in raspberries or strawberries into the filling next time. I cut up little pieces of strawberries to put on top, which worked well. And I think I will altogether skip the frosting next time, it didn't really enhance the flavor. These are great for parties!

2 (10 oz.) cans crescent roll dough
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice (I did 1/2 tsp., which I think tasted better)
3/4 tsp. vanilla (I did 1 tsp.)
1 tsp. sour cream

optional icing
1 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbl. milk
1 Tbl. butter, softened

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Slice (unrolled) dough into 1/4 inch slices (like making slice-and-bake cookies)
3. Place slices of dough on cookie sheet and make slight indentation in the middle.
4. In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and sour cream.
5. Add a Tbl. of filling to each roll.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
7. Optional icing: stir together powdered sugar, milk and butter. After danish has cooled, drizzle with icing.

Reeses Squares (no bake)

I made this recipe because I was really craving it and it sounded easy (it is). I made, like a third of the recipe and they turned out well (how could a no-bake recipe not?).

1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 lb (3 - 3 1/2 c.) powdered sugar
1 1/2 c. peanut butter
1 c. butter, melted
1 (12 oz.) bag milk chocolate chips

1. Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar & peanut butter until mixed well.
2. Blend in melted butter until well combined.
3. Press mixture evenly in a 9 x 13" pan.
4. Melt chocolate chips in microwave or in double boiler.
5. Spread over peanut butter mixture.
6. Chill until just set and cut into bars (they are hard to cut if the chocolate gets 'rock hard')

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Texan Peach Cobbler

Like I mentioned before, Zak's grandparents brought us a box of peaches, and we decided that peach cobbler was absolutely necessary to make with them. Zak loves my fruit cobbler, but he asked if I wouldn't mind making a cobbler with a more buttery and heavy dough. So I looked forever online until I found a recipe that sounded good and wasn't obscenely loaded with butter. This is called Texan Peach Cobbler and I'll have to take the chef's word for it, but we both enjoy it this a lot. The next time I make it, I'll add maybe half as much lemon, because it did overpower the peach at times.

4 c. peaches, ripe, peeled & sliced
2 Tbl. brown sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice, fresh squeezed (I would suggest a 1/2 tsp.)
1 tsp. lemon zest (again, 1/2 tsp.)
1/2 tsp. vanilla (I think I would add maybe 1 tsp. next time)

6 Tbl. butter
1 1/4 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cinnamon (maybe up to 1/4 tsp. would be fine)
1 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbl. turbinado (sugar in the raw)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine filling ingredients in a bowl, toss and set aside.
3. Place butter in 8" square baking dish.
4. Place in oven for 5 minutes or until butter is completely melted.
5. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
6. Add milk and vanilla to flour mixture, stir until just combined.
7. Spoon batter over butter, spreading evenly (DO NOT STIR IN).
8. Spoon peach mixture over batter, gently pressing peaches into the batter.
9. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes--make sure to have a baking pan underneath, as it will probably bubble and overflow.
10. Sprinkle top with turbinado sugar and baking for an additional 10 minutes or until top is golden.

Peach Gelato

Zak's grandparents stopped by a week or so ago and brought us a big box of softball-sized, juicy peaches (as well as some plums, a mouth-watering cantaloupe, and a huge watermelon). We both adore peaches (I have delicious memories of my grandpa making peach frappes when I was a kid, and then there was my aunt's peach cobbler, and and and...) and were thrilled to have so many of them. We ate plenty of them for breakfast (with strawberries and blueberries, mmm) and smoothies (so good), but what I wanted to try the most was a gelato-type dessert. Zak really wanted to make peach ice cream, as we liked our peach frozen yogurt, but weren't too thrilled with some parts of it. But I told him to trust me, because gelato is the number 1 dessert food of all-time, in the category of frozen desserts. He wasn't sure about it, but once again, he has learned never to doubt my culinary expertise, haha.

This recipe is so easy and simple, and what is best about it is that it captures the essence of the peaches. As opposed to an ice cream, where the cream is most of the flavor, the gelato showcases the flavor of the peaches. It is absolutely delicious, and while it may not be 100% traditional gelato, it's certainly good enough for me in Moscow, Idaho. Enjoy!

(P.S. Thank you, Grandpa & Grandpa Brown for bringing us all that yummy fruit!)

3 lbs. peaches, pitted & peeled (I used about 4 cups, since I had no idea how many pounds it was, seemed to work out fine)
1/4 c. sugar (or more)
1/2 c. vanilla yogurt [other variants include mascarpone or creme fraiche, I want to try them both]

1. Cut the peaches into very small pieces-the smaller they are cut, the faster they will freeze.
2. Arrange peach pieces in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet and freeze solid, about 2 hours.
3. Place frozen peaches in food processor with sugar, and grind briefly.
4. Add the yogurt (or other ingredient) and pulse until the mixture is smooth (we added some of the leftover peach juice and some vanilla as well).
5. Empty mixture into a small container and freeze again, about 20 to 30 minutes. The texture should be soft, but not too soft.

A small problem with this is that it freezes very solid, and then takes awhile to thaw. We had it in the fridge for about 3 hours after keeping it in the freezer all night, and it was perfect.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Homemade Cheeseburger Macaroni Hamburger Helper

I don't recall having Hamburger Helper for dinner growing up, so I will cite my first memory of having it within the last year, when Zak had me buy a few boxes of it. I didn't mind it, and it's certainly easy to make after a long day at work or school, so we would have it now and then. Yesterday I got a craving for it, but decided to see if I could find a comparable recipe and make it without the box and its packages flavors. So I went to (previously recipezaar, I'm not fond of their new site) and found a few recipes I'd like to try. The one below is what I made last night and was pretty tasty. I may add a bit of sour cream to get it creamier and/or some more spices.

1/2 - 1 lb. lean ground beef
1 c. hot water (boiled first then measured)
2 c. milk
1 1/2 c. elbow macaroni
1 c. cheese

'Sauce Packet'
1 Tbl. cornstarch
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. onion powder (1 tsp. minced onion & 1/2 tsp. garlic powder is a good substitute)
1 tsp. garlic
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar

1. Brown ground beef in large skillet, drain.
2. Add hot water, milk, pasta & 'sauce packet' ingredients.
3. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat & simmer 12 minutes or until pasta is tender.
4. In the last few minutes, add cheese, stir & recover.
5. When pasta is tender and cheese melted, remove from heat.
6. Let stand about 5 minutes, sauce will thicken.
7. Top with additional cheese if desired.

with the flash on, doesn't look as appetizing as it really is

without flash

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Granola Bar - take 2

Here is the recipe for the second granola bar recipe I tried. I'm not sure if I like this one more, or the first recipe. They are both pretty tasty. This one smelled sooo yummy while it was cooking, but I think next time I'll cook it at a lower temperature and/or less time, because the edges got a little burned.

2 c. granola cereal (I just used the granola I used in the first recipe, I don't know if it matters if it's 'cereal' or not)
4 egg whites
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. walnuts
1/4 c. cranberries
1/4 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. ground flax seeds
1 Tbl. cinnamon

1. Mix all ingredients together and press into 8"x8" baking pan.
2. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees (or until golden brown, don't over-brown).

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Granola Bites

The other week I got the urge to look up recipes for granola bars. We love them, but unfortunately, a lot of the ones on the market have a lot of palm/coconut oil and other unhealthy (but delicious) things. I looked for a long time and came across two recipes that sounded good.

I made this recipe last week and to a good degree of success. The few notes I have for next time include thinking of something to get the bars to stick together better (they tended to be very crumbly) and cooking it perhaps on a lower heat and/or less time. Other than that, they are very good and I will most likely make them again! I'll post the other recipe once we've tried them and determined their taste validity.

Oh, and since we have Winco nearby, this whole things cost something like $5 total to make because of their plethora of bulk food items. I probably wouldn't have made it if I had to buy individual boxes, bags of the items.

1 1/2 c. granola (I used a combination of three that we picked out-french vanilla, honey almond, apple cinnamon)
1 c. old fashioned oats
1/2 c. dried cranberries (we thought cran-raspberries would be most tasty)
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. slivered almonds
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 egg whites
1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tbl. vegetable oil

1. Spray 8"x8" baking pan, preheat oven to 350.
2. Combine granola, oatmeal, cranberries, raisins, flour, almonds, and cinnamon in large mixing bowl.
3. In smaller bowl, lightly beat egg whites. Stir in honey, brown sugar, and oil.
4. Stir in honey mixture into dry ingredients until all is coated.
5. Press evenly into pan.
6. Bake 20 - 25 minutes or until golden brown (less is more, in my opinion).
7. Let cool fully, then cut into bars and wrap up in plastic wrap or foil.

another close-up

Nutritional Facts
servings per recipe: 16
amount per serving

Calories: 185.5
Total Fat: 4.8 g
Saturated Fat: 0.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 2.7 g
Cholesterol: --
Sodium: 79 mg
Potassium: 127.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 37.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.3 g
Sugar: 25.2 g
Protein: 3.5 g
Vitamin A: 5.4 %
Vitamin C: 0.4 %
Calcium: 5.1 %
Iron: 9.9 %

Honey Peach Frozen Yogurt

This week we made honey peach frozen yogurt because we had a bunch of peaches and we love peach ice cream. However, we decided to use vanilla yogurt instead of heavy cream so it would be a less fattening. This recipe was really simple and we added a few extra ingredients until it tasted how we wanted it to. Delicious!

3 c. peaches (peeled, pitted - - about 3 peaches)
1 (32 oz.) vanilla yogurt
1/4 c. honey
2 Tbl. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Place all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth.
2. Add mixture to ice cream maker and freeze according to directions.

Very simple! It did freeze rather hard, so it'd be a good idea to let it stand at room temperature for 5 - 10 minutes before serving. Also, we decided to blend all the peaches up because we hate having frozen chunks of peaches in the middle of the ice cream/yogurt, so if you want to blend half and have the other half cut up small, that would work too.

Oh, and I was a little exuberant with the food dye.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bing Cherry Jam

Well, we still had a lot of cherries after we made the ice cream, so I figured I'd make cherry jam. I found a pretty simple recipe online that worked well, the only problem was that I wasn't sure when the jam was done, because it was my first time doing it alone. But it seemed to work just fine, and now we have yummy cherry jam to enjoy for awhile!

4 c. pitted fresh bing cherries
2 c. sugar
2 Tbl. lemon juice
1 pinch salt
3 Tbl. dry pectin

1. Add the cherries, lemon juice, sugar, salt to slow cooker; stir gently and let stand for 15 minutes or until sugar is mostly dissolved.
2. Sprinkle with pectin.
3. Cover and cook on LOW for 2 1/2, stirring 2 - 3 times while cooking.
4. Remove the lid, turn the cooker to HIGH and cook 2 - 3 hours more, until jam reached desired consistency (make sure to check on it every once in awhile, because I had a huge mess to clean up--but I had left the lid on it)
5. Ladle the jam into clean spring-top glass jars, or screw tops with new lids (I bought some plastic freezer jars from Ball that worked just fine), let stand to cool.
6. Store, covered in the fridge for up to 2 months, or freeze.

This recipe's supposed to yield 5 cups. I doubled the recipe and filled 4 16 oz. plastic jars. Just sayin'.

work station
173 cherries = 1 hour to pit
all ready after hours of cooking

on homemade bread

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vanilla Cherry Ice Cream

Yesterday we made an impulse purchase: a 4 qt., Rival ice cream maker for $20. It was on clearance at Wal-Mart and we decided we might as well give it a shot; we don't need to get the $100 Kitchenaid attachment just yet. Well, I had been looking at recipes for bing cherries (since we have a huge flat left, and some are starting to turn yucky), and came across a vanilla cherry ice cream recipe. And since that is both one of our favorite recipes, we decided to give it a shot. It's a very simple recipe and we are quite pleased with the results with both the recipe and the ice cream maker. We are now excited about making different types of ice cream this summer....

2 c. heavy cream
1 c. milk
3/4 c. white sugar
1 Tbl. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
2 c. fresh cherries, pitted and cut in half (we did quarters so it would be easier to eat)

1. Combine the cream, milk and sugar; stir until sugar is dissolved.
2. Stir in the extracts; add the cherries.
3. Pour into ice cream mixture and churn according to manufacturer's instructions.

churning away
after being frozen overnight
yum yum yum!
Zak has stained hands now, haha

Cherry Pie

This week I made cherry pie, for the first time ever.  I actually don't even remember having cherry pie that often, but I know Zak loves it, and we had a huge bag of pie cherries from his grandparents, so I decided to give it a shot.  I've only made  pie crust a handful of times (Zak has always been around to help out with that; we made apple pie a few Thanksgivings ago together), so I was a bit nervous.  I used a recipe from my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, since it seemed pretty simple.  The result was very delicious, however, next time I will perhaps make it thicker, because we had a fair amount of cherry syrup hanging around in the bottom of the pan.  Oh well, not bad for my first time!

Pastry for Double-Crust Pie:

2 1/4 c. flour
3/4 tsp. salt
2/3 c. shortening
8 - 10 Tbl. cold water

1. In a medium bowl, stir together flour and salt.  Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are pea size.
2. Sprinkle 1 Tbl. of water over part of the flour mixture; toss with  fork.  Push moistened pastry to side of bowl; repeat until all of the flour mixture is moistened.  Divide pastry in half; form halves into balls.
3. On lightly floured surface, slightly flatten one pastry ball.  Roll it from the center to the edges into a circle 12 inches in diameter.
4. Wrap pastry circle around the rolling pin; unroll into a 9-inch pie plate.
5. Roll remaining ball into circle; cut slits in it.  Place onto filling; trim the two crust edges and then fold top under the bottom and crimp edges as desired.

Pie Filling:

1 1/4 c. sugar
3 Tbl. cornstarch
5 1/2 fresh (or frozen) unsweetened pitted tart red cherries
1 recipe Pastry for Double-Crust Pie

1. In large bowl, stir together sugar and cornstarch.  Add cherries; toss gently until coated.  Let mixture stand about 15 minutes or until a syrup forms, stirring occasionally (if using frozen cherries, let it stand about 45 minutes or until fruit is partially thawed but still icy).
2. Preheat oven to 375-degrees.  Prepare and roll out the pastry dough.
3. Stir cherry mixture, transfer to pastry-lined pie plate.  Trim bottom pastry to edge of pie plate.  Cut slits in remaining pastry; place on filling and seal; crimp edges as desired.
4. If desired, brush top pastry with milk and sprinkle with additional sugar.  Place pie on a baking sheet.  To prevent overbrowning, cover edge of pie with foil.
5. Bake for 30 minutes (or 50 for partially thawed frozen fruit).  Remove foil.  Baking an additional 25-30 minutes or until filling is bubbly and pastry is golden.  Cool on a wire rack.

ready for the top crust
ready to go in the oven!
not as pretty, but still delicious!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Watermelon Berry Sorbet

Ok, so when Zak's family came to visit for a day or so, we had our delicious chicken kabobs, corn and watermelon. However, we did not consume most of the watermelon, and I decided to find some kind of recipe that would use up our leftovers. I found this great one on recipezaar, and tweaked it a little. It's easy, healthy and delicious!

1 c. water
1/2 c. water
2 c. cubed seedless watermelon (I must have used 4-6 cups, basically filled the blender)
2 c. fresh strawberries, hulled (I only used 1 c., I wanted the watermelon to be the star)
1 Tbl. minced fresh mint (Next time, I'll use maybe 1/2 Tbl.--we have spearmint & peppermint in our mint garden, so it was really fun to go outside and pick it!)

1. In a small saucepan, boil water. Add sugar to boiling water, stir until dissolved. Remove from heat, cool slightly.
2. Put watermelon, strawberries, and sugar syrup in blender. Cover and process for 2-3 minutes, or until smooth.
3. Transfer mixture to a 9"x13" dish. Freeze for 1 hour or until edges begin to firm.
4. Stir in mint, freeze another hour.
5. Transfer to blender, cover and process 2-3 minutes or until smooth.
6. Freeze another 2 hours, or until it is firm.

I tweaked the freezer times a bit; it originally said to freeze the mint in for 2 hours, then transfer it all into a blender just before serving. But then it was all slushy, so we ended up freezing it again for another hour or so. The only picture I have is of the sorbet being a little more on the liquid side, but it's still very yummy and refreshing!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Snickers Surprise Peanut Butter Cookies

My boss made these cookies last week at work and they were so good, I went online after work and looked up a recipe for them. I made a batch to take to Washington for the 4th of July and Zak's grandpa's 70th surprise birthday party. I accidentally burned a few of them (too busy running around cleaning and packing), but they were devoured. They are very simple to make and the chocolate drizzle on top is optional, but I thought it would be a good balance to the big peanut butter taste. I got about 31 or 32 cookies out of this recipe, which is a bit more than it predicted.

Anyways, these were a hit and are very delicious!

1 c. butter, softened
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla
1 jar creamy peanut butter (18 ounces)
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 bag mini Snicker's brand candies
1/2 bag chocolate chips, melted, for drizzling on top (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until smooth.
3. Add the eggs, yolk and vanilla; mix until fluffy. Stir in peanut butter.
4. In another bowl, add in flour, baking soda, salt; add to peanut butter mixture.
5. Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours.
6. Form dough into 1-1/2" balls, flatten and wrap around each mini candy bar.
7. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly brown on edges.
8. Let sit for a minute or two before transferring to a cooling rack.
9. Once cooled, add melted chocolate in drizzles across each cookie.

I put them in the freezer to harden up the chocolate before our drive