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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pumpkin Granola Bars

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Sometimes I wonder what I did before food blogs. Oh yeah, homework. And I wasn't cooking then anyways, unless you count Easy Mac :) But seriously, I love that I can get on my computer and Google will find me virtually anything that I'm looking for. A few weeks ago, I had the idea for pumpkin granola bars, but shockingly, my Google search came up short. I figured I'd make my own recipe, based on other granola bars I've made, but it turned out Maria beat me to it! I was excited to see that she'd created a pumpkin granola bar recipe and I set out to make it that evening.

These granola bars are fabulous, good both hot from the oven (I couldn't wait for them to cool--they smelled so good!) and the next few days. I loved these these were thick and hearty, but still chewy. I know it's easier to pick up a box of Kashi or Quaker granola bars, but I promise the little bit of extra work is worth it! I'm pretty sure these are the best granola bars I've ever had--homemade or not--and I'll be making another batch as soon as this one runs out. I might experiment next time and add some other chips or nuts.

One Year Ago: Stuffed Acorn Squash

Pumpkin Granola Bars
from Two Peas and their Pod
-3 1/4 cups rolled oats (I used quick because it's all I had on hand)
-1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 tsp nutmeg
-1/2 tsp salt
-3/4 cup brown sugar
-1/2 cup pumpkin puree
-1/4 cup applesauce
-1/4 cup honey
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 cup chocolate chips (I used mini)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease an 8-inch baking pan and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together oats, spices, and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, mix brown sugar, pumpkin, applesauce, honey, and vanilla until smooth. Add oat mixture and beat until oats are completely coated. Stir in chocolate chips.
4. Press oat mixture into the prepared pan, using a spatula to spread evenly. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden. Cool on a wire rack fro 5 minutes before cutting into bars and cooling completely.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Housekeeping: Cookies, a Review, and a Giveaway!

If your Saturdays are anything like ours, they're a day for catching up, for housekeeping, for doing all those things we've meant to do all week but never got around to. This is one of the only Saturdays I've been home this month, and I plan to take full advantage! Mopping floors isn't fun, but they're disastrous!

So while I'm doing some housekeeping in my house today, I also have a few "housekeeping" issues to cover on the blog. Fun ones, I promise!

1. Let's cut right to the chase and talk about this giveaway, huh? A few weeks ago I mentioned a CSN giveaway that I'd be hosting on this blog. CSN is a mecca of (200+) online stores where you can literally purchase anything from upholstered headboards to diaper bags to kitchen stuff. I was given the chance to try out some products and since I'm not in the market for bed pieces OR diaper bags, I opted for some adorable Rachel Ray serving bowls, as seen below in my picture of the butternut squash ice cream, as well as a sieve, which I also needed to make my ice cream! Both products arrived within a few days of ordering them and I've been nothing but happy with them! The bowls are adorable and perfect for serving things like soup or ice cream. I can't wait to make mini pot pies in them!

CSN didn't just give me some products to try out, they're also offering one of my readers a $45 gift certificate to spend at any of their 200+ stores! Believe me, you'll have no problem finding something you want on their site! To enter for your chance to win this gift certificate, leave a comment telling me your favorite way to spend a Saturday. For a second entry, tweet about this giveaway and leave me another comment saying you did so.

I'll accept comments until Tuesday night at 9:00 pm Central and announce the (randomly picked) winner on Wednesday morning. This giveaway is only open to those in the United Stated and Canada, as CSN doesn't ship internationally. Good luck!

2. Tomorrow's Halloween and I've seen tons of adorably festive treats on the internet. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to make too many Halloween-inspired treats last week (though I've kept you full of pumpkin stuff, huh?), but I did manage to whip up some cute sugar cookies!

Thanks to my mom for giving me the adorable cookie cutters, to Ryan for running out to the store last minute for me, and to Paige for being my co-decorator! Need a last minute treat for a party tonight? Or maybe something to do so that you can keep your hands out of the candy bucket? Whip up a batch of this cookie dough, grab some Fall-ish cookie cutters, and enjoy! They're still my favorite sugar cookies (maybe overall cookies?) ever!

3. Because I'm a Foodbuzz Featured Publisher and part of their Tastemaker program, I occasionally get sent products to try (like when I got to sample this chocolate!). This time, I was sent two loaves of Nature's Pride Bread: Oatmeal and Whole Wheat. I'm typically not picky when it comes to bread (although I love the homemade stuff), but this stuff was extra good. It's soft and chewy, but holds up well to various sandwich fillings, such as the excellent creation you see below: turkey, cranberry sauce, and goat cheese (we may or may not have Thanksgiving on the brain!). We still have about half of each loaf left and I can't wait to use it for other sandwiches.

Need sandwich ideas? How about a peanut butter panini? Or a jam & proscuitto panini? Chinese chicken salad would also be awesome on this bread! Thank you Foodbuzz & Nature's Pride, we're loving the bread!

....and I think that's enough housekeeping for today! Enjoy your weekend :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cranberry Bliss Bars

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Cranberry Bliss Bars, supposedly a staple in Starbucks bakery cases. Unfortunately, I cannot confirm or deny this...until Starbucks starts selling coffee ice cream, or adding a little Bailey's in their drinks, I won't be frequenting Starbucks regularly. Since I'm thus missing out on their baked goods, I'll just have to imitate them, as I did with these bars.

If you love Starbucks' Cranberry Bliss Bars, you'll want to make these ASAP. I guarantee they're better, if only because they haven't been sitting for hours in a display case. If you've never tried a Cranberry Bliss Bar, you must. These bars are thick and chewy, studded with dried cranberries and white chocolate, and then topped with a decadent lemony cream cheese frosting. Ryan and I both took plates of these to work for Boss's Day and I actually had a co-worker interrupt my conversation with one of our directors to declare just how good these were. That's how you know they're good stuff.

Get your Starbucks to go next time and make a batch of these to eat alongside your beverage, you won't be sorry!

One Year Ago: Spinach Apple Salad

Cranberry Bliss Bars
adapted from Dinner & Dessert
*I omitted the drizzled icing that apparently tops the cream cheese frosting & I really don't think it's necessary. Click on the link if you want the recipe for the drizzle!

-1 cup butter, softened
-1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
-3 eggs
-1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-1 tsp ground ginger
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
-3/4 cup dried cranberries, diced
-1 cup white chocolate chips
-4 oz cream cheese, softened
-3 cups powdered sugar
-4 tsp lemon juice
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-1/4 cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until smooth. Mix in eggs, ginger, vanilla, and salt until combined. Slowly stir in flour until smooth.
2. With a wooden spoon, stir in 3/4 cup cranberries and 1 cup white chocolate chips. Pour batter (it's thick!) into a greased 9 x 13 pan, spreading it evenly with a spatula.
3. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until cake is lightly browned around the edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
4. While cake is cooling, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla with a mixer until smooth. Spread frosting atop cooled cake and top with remaining dried cranberries.
5. Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours before slicing (it'll be much easier to cut this way!).

This is linked to Saturday's Party.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pumpkin Pancakes

Happy Birthday to my stud of a brother, Quinn! (not that he reads this blog, but I figured I'd say it anyways for what it's worth ;)) Love you boy!
It's appropriate that I'm posting pumpkin pancakes on Quinn's birthday, because he's a big breakfast lover. If I had truly wanted to honor Quinn, I should've posted pumpkin waffles, since they're his true love, but we'll have to settle for pancakes today!

The pumpkin madness continues, this time in the form of breakfast. In case you've already made the pumpkin baked oatmeal and are needing more pumpkin first thing in the morning, these pancakes are for you! I made these at my last girl's dinner with friends Paige and Ashley, though this time it was girl's brunch. We had a fall-themed meal going, with pumpkin spiced lattes, roasted apples, and these pumpkin pancakes. 

I love pumpkin pancakes, but normally I just whip some up with the Trader Joe's mix. This time, I went for the homemade stuff which was nearly as easy to put together. My only complaint is that these pancakes are thick, massive, really. I thinned out the batter with water quite a bit because I prefer thinner pancakes, but they still puffed up. If you're a fan of thick pancakes, you'll love these! Despite their monstrous width, I still enjoyed them...I just wasn't able to put down five or six like usual ;) 

Pumpkin Pancakes
*serves 6

-2 cups whole wheat flour
-3 tbsp brown sugar
-2 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp baking soda
-2 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp nutmeg
-1/2 tsp ground ginger
-1/4 tsp cloves
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 1/2 cups buttermilk
-1 cup pumpkin puree
-1 egg
-2 tbsp canola oil

1. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, stir together wet ingredients (buttermilk through oil).
2. Slowly incorporate wet ingredients into dry ingredients, mixing to combine. 
3. On a lightly greased griddle or pan, cook pancakes over medium heat until both sides are browned.
4. Serve immediately with butter & syrup! 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chicken, Black Bean, and Goat Cheese Tostadas

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In another post, I mentioned that last time I visited my grandparents, I copied a bunch of recipes from my grandma's recipe binder. The Eggebrecht women (being my grandma, my mom, and I), all have a great love for cooking and if you come to any of our homes you'll find an abundance of recipes torn out of magazines and newspapers. The last thing I need is more recipes on my out of control "To-Make" list, and yet I can't resist scoping the recipes my grandma and mom pick out each time I see them.

I'm quite glad this recipe caught my eye as it made for a great weeknight dinner for my sister, Ryan, and I. We were all a little disappointed that I hadn't made more of the recipe--this fed the three of us but we wouldn't have minded a little more!

If you're vegetarian, feel free to omit the chicken. I still have a ton of corn tortillas left over so I'm excited to try other variations of these and play around with the toppings. I recommend serving with sour cream and adding more spices to the black beans--we felt they could've used a little extra something!

One Year Ago: Creamy Sweet Potato and Kale Soup 

Chicken, Black Bean, and Goat Cheese Tostadas
Adapted From America’s Test Kitchen 30 min Suppers Winter 2010

-8 (6 inch) corn tortillas
-2 tbsp vegetable oil
-1 small onion, chopped fine
-1 tsp chili powder
-1 tsp ground cumin
-1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
-½ cup water
-2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
-salt and pepper
-1 lb chicken, cooked and shredded (next time I'll marinate the chicken in some sort of a lime marinade or something to give it some extra flavor, this time I just poached with a little bit of seasoning)
-1 cup crumbled goat cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spray both sides of tortillas with canola cooking spray and arrange on two baking sheets in a single layer. Bake until lightly browned and crisp (10-12 minutes), rotating the baking sheets halfway through baking.
2. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook onion until softened (approximately 5 minutes), then add chili powder and cumin, cooking until fragrant. Add beans and water and cook, mashing the beans with the back of a large spoon or a potato masher until creamy (approximately five minutes). 
3. Remove pan from heat and stir in half of the cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Spread bean mixture over tortillas. Top with shredded chicken and cheese. Bake until cheese is melted, about five minutes. Top with remaining cilantro and serve immediately.

This post is linked to Eat at Home.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vanilla Spiced Butternut Squash Ice Cream with Salted Ginger Caramel Sauce

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I know. That title is quite a mouthful. I promise the result isn't quite as difficult to swallow ;) How did this crazy ice cream come about, you ask? It went a little something like this...

Joanne, from Eats Well with Others (one of my favorite food blogs!) decided to host a little recipe contest sponsored by Marx Foods. I was one of the ten bloggers she picked to receive a shipment of ingredient samples from Marx. We were instructed to use at least two of the ingredients in an original recipe that featured winter squash.

I eagerly anticipated my box of goodies and tore into it the afternoon it arrived. Much to my surprise, the box was full of ingredients I'd never heard of and certainly never cooked with! Fennel pollen? Aji Panca Chilies? I started to wonder just what I'd gotten myself into...

For a few days, I brainstormed, mixing and matching different ingredient combinations in my head. I knew I wanted to use butternut squash and I was headed down the path of a Mexican dish that featured the chilies and the squash when ice cream popped into my head.

You might recall that I'm no stranger to crazy ice cream combinations. Remember all those flavors Ryan and I tried in Boston and Maine? After some of those, butternut squash ice cream didn't sound so odd! I did some research and discovered that butternut squash ice cream had been made before, but never with the inclusion of vanilla beans, one of my Marx ingredients! There needed to be another Marx ingredient in the mix, so I decided to top my ice cream with a salted ginger caramel sauce, using the ginger salt I received in my package.

The ice cream was relatively easy to make. I did worry it wouldn't thicken enough, but after thirty minutes or so in my ice cream maker, it thickened perfectly. The caramel, on the other hand, was a bit more of a challenge. It took two tries (the first attempt was burnt to a crisp!), but I removed it from the heat at six minutes exactly the second time and it was just right.

So now you're wondering how this odd-sounding ice cream tasted, right? If you love butternut squash, you will love this ice cream. It tastes exactly like the squash, with a hint of vanilla that adds some sweetness. This actually paired really well with the salted ginger caramel, which was good enough to eat plain! The ginger didn't come through as strong in the sauce as I hoped, but it still worked for me.

Four of us sampled the ice cream and sauce. Everyone but my sister loved the ice cream, but she couldn't get enough of the caramel! Want to serve something really unique alongside your traditional pies this Thanksgiving? Give this a try!

Vanilla Spiced Butternut Squash Ice Cream with Salted Ginger Caramel Sauce

for the ice cream-
-1 cup butternut squash, roasted
-1 vanilla bean
-1 pint whole milk
-3/4 cup sugar
-6 egg yolks

for the sauce-
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/8 cup water
-1 tbsp corn syrup
-3/8 cup heavy cream
-2 tbsp unsalted butter
-3/4 tsp ginger salt

For the Ice Cream-
1. Cut a small butternut squash in half lengthwise. Spray with cooking spray and place on a baking sheet, cut side up. Roast at 400F for 30-40 minutes, until squash is tender and scrapes easily out of the peel with a fork. Measure 1 cup of squash and set aside until cool (save the rest for another recipe!).
2. In a small saucepan, add milk and sugar. Scrape the seeds from one vanilla bean into the pan. Heat over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until mixture is simmering.
3. Beat egg yolks until well blended and light yellow. Once milk mixture is simmering, add a little bit (I did one large spoonful at a time) to the egg mixture to temper. Continue adding a little at a time and mixing after each addition. Once approximately half of the mixture has been added, add the rest of the milk mixture and whisk to combine.
4. Place butternut squash in a blender (could also use a food processor or stick blender) and blend until pureed. (note: you may need to add a little bit of milk to help it puree). Beat squash in with milk & egg mixture.
5. Pour liquid mixture through a sieve into a bowl to remove lumps. Cover liquid and refrigerate at least four hours, or overnight. When thoroughly chilled, remove mixture from the fridge and freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions.

For the sauce-
1. In a medium saucepan, bring the water, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil. Allow to boil over high heat for 6 minutes.
2. After 6 minutes, remove pot from heat. Immediately whisk in butter, heavy cream, and ginger salt until mixture is smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature (it will harden as it cools).

To serve, scoop ice cream into bowls and top with caramel sauce! (note: leftover caramel sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for two weeks and reheated to soften)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Twelve in Ten Challenge: The King & I

First things first, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY Ryan! Last year, I posted a bunch of wedding pictures in celebration of our first anniversary. I've gained a lot of new readers since then, so go check those out for some wedding stalkage. This year, I'll just post one of my favorite pictures of us in the past year (aka one of the only pictures where both of us have our eyes open and we're smiling!).

Ryan, thanks for another fabulous year of marriage....and, in relation to this blog, thanks for telling me when I make grammatical errors, soothing my kitchen tantrums, and answering my incessant questions about how something tastes. I love you and I love being married to you...can't wait for another great year!

Now onto the next matter of business, our October Twelve in Ten Challenge. This month a restaurant was up and it just so happened that a Groupon for The King & I, one of the restaurants on our list, was being sold one day. I immediately jumped on buying it and we set out for a little date night one Sunday evening after seeing the movie The Social Network (which I highly recommend!).

I had heard a lot of good things about The King & I, a pretty well-known Thai restaurant in St. Louis, and I went in with high expectations. Unfortunately, the actual experience fell short of what I'd been anticipating. The restaurant itself was your standard run of the mill Asian restaurant, no fancy decor or anything. This is pretty typical in the area though, and didn't bother me.

The menu was fairly extensive, but I went with my usual pick at Thai restaurants: pad thai. It's a Thai restaurant after all, shouldn't this be their speciality? I was craving vegetables after a pretty indulgent weekend and the waiter assured me that this dish came with plenty of veggies. Ryan debated over a few different dishes but ultimately went with the green curry with shrimp since he had never before tried green curry.

While waiting for our food, we realized that none of the patrons at other tables were eating with chopsticks. I found this odd and was a little disappointed; chopsticks are my favorite part of Asian establishments! Thankfully when the server brought our food (which came out fast!), he got us chopsticks upon our request.

I was pretty disappointed with my pad thai. The vegetables were anything but plentiful, but I wasn't too surprised. What bothered me the most was the sauce; to both Ryan and I, it didn't taste anything like the pad thai sauce that I know, love and enjoy at every other Thai restaurant we've been to. On top of that, the peanuts served on top of the dish (my favorite part!), were few and far between.

Ryan, on the other hand, was satisfied with his green curry. He ordered it 'mild' and it was indeed pretty mild. His dish was substantial enough for a meal but not an overwhelming amount and he had no problem finishing it off.

While I'm not sure what went wrong with the pad thai, I would give The King & I another go sometime. It definitely didn't compare to some of the other Thai places we've tried in St. Louis, but I think I would like some of the other menu options, such as the curries. Though the food was a miss for me this time, the service was fast and the prices were reasonable, so I'm not completely ready to write off the place! Ultimately, I'm once again glad for this challenge, and the fact that it forces us to branch out and try new places!

One Year Ago: Apple Puff Pancake

King & I on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip

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The last four posts were pumpkin-less, but you had to know pumpkin would make a reappearance shortly...and there's no better way to do it than with this pumpkin cheesecake dip! I made this a few Friday's ago when some friends got together at my sister Julia's to eat dinner and carve pumpkins. Knowing I'd have very little time between work and the party, I needed something that was easy to prepare and this fit the bill. The dip was an absolute hit and six of us managed to take out most of it in a short amount of time! Though we used apples as dippers, you could also dip other fruits, gingersnaps, or even something like pretzels. Heck, this is good enough to eat with a spoon, if you're willing to risk the stomachache.

Some of my friends, I won't name names, might have licked their plates so as not to waste a smidge of it!

Looking for some other yummy fruit dips? This caramel apple dip is to die for, as is this coconut fluff dip!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip
adapted from Fake Ginger
-8 ounces cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat)
-1 cup pumpkin puree
-1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
-1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
-1/2 tsp ground ginger
-apples or other dippers for serving

1. With a mixer, beat cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. A half cup at a time, add powdered sugar along with pumpkin pie spice and ginger, beating until combined.
2. Refrigerate until just before serving (dip is best cold!).

This post is linked to Eat at Home.

And, for fun, a few of the finished pumpkins! (Julia's is the adorable one eating the mini pumpkin....although can you call something that graphic adorable?!)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Amaretto Chunk Cookies

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I'm always jealous of my Grandma's cookies. In all my years of eating her cookies (twenty-four, to be exact), I've never seen an imperfect cookie. Hers are always thick, chewy, and perfectly cooked. Many of mine, on the other hand, have seen their fair share of tragedies. There are the few that have fallen prey to the bottom of the oven, those that are scorched when I decide to vacuum while cookie baking (don't try to multi-task; you WILL forget about the cookies and NOT hear your timer!), and those that I'm certain will be perfect but then come out of the oven flat and lifeless.

Last time we saw my Grandma, she had whipped up a batch of these amaretto chunk cookies. A huge lover of amaretto in my alcoholic beverages (not to mention my whipped cream and my cakes), I was smitten with this cookie! We managed to eat several while visiting and then smuggled a few bags of them for the ride home. I made sure to copy down the recipe before we left and less than a week passed before I was craving them again.

These cookies are full of good stuff: coconut, almonds, chocolate, and, of course, the amaretto! Even better, mine came out just like Grandma's: thick and chewy! These last several days in an airtight container...if you don't eat them all first ;)

One Year Ago: Tropical Bran Bread

Amaretto Chunk Cookies

-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 cup butter, softened
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-1 cup brown sugar
-2 large eggs
-1 tbsp amaretto liqueur
-2 tsp almond extract
-2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
-1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
-1 cup sliced almonds

1. Preheat oven to 375F. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a separate bowl, beat butter and sugars until creamy. Beat in eggs, amaretto, and almond extract. Reduce speed to low and carefully beat in flour mixture, just until blended.
3. With a large spoon, stir in chocolate chips, coconut, and almonds.
4. Using a cookie scoop or a tablespoon, drop dough onto ungreased cookie sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake 10-12 minutes (mine were good after 9!), until golden around the edges. Cool on wire racks.
5. Store cookies for 1 week in an airtight container, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Friday, October 22, 2010


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Let me guess...you read the title and though "Shak-WHAT?!" Then you looked at the picture and again thought "What?". My thoughts exactly, when I first saw this post on Jen's blog. It isn't the most photogenic meal and the entire description of it sounds a little odd, but I couldn't resist giving it a go. Ryan and I have been turning to eggs lately whenever we need a really fast meal and this was both different and intriguing from the usual sandwiches or omelets.

While the name of it is a little weird and the picture of it might look a little weird, I can assure you that its smells are intoxicating. The night I made this for dinner, we hosted community groups that evening and there were at least four separate people who walked in and immediately said "it smells so good in here". Ryan and I hadn't noticed the apparently delicious smells while preparing it, but everyone else sure attested to it!

This was a little messy to eat, we had to spoon the eggs and tomatoes into separate bowls, at which point the egg yolks broke and met the spicy tomato sauce. The combination sounds weird but somehow it worked! While Jen recommended eating this with pita bread for dipping, we used more of the honey wheat rolls from the freezer (which, by the way, still thawed perfectly and tasted so fresh!).

Hopefully my pictures and description have convinced you to give this meal a try; if nothing else, make it so you can tell someone you had SHAKSHUKA for dinner! :)

One Year Ago: Cereal Dessert Bars

adapted from Bakin' and Eggs
-2-3 tbsp olive oil
-2-3 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
-1 small onion, chopped
-2-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 tsp ground cumin
-1 tsp tumeric
-1 tbsp paprika
-1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
-salt, to taste
-4-6 eggs
-1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
-1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Heat olive oil in a 12-inch skillet with a lid (don't use lid yet!), over medium high heat. Saute jalapenos and onions until soft and golden brown, approximately 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and other spices and stir frequently, 2-3 minutes until garlic is soft.
2. Pour tomatoes and their liquid into a medium bowl, crushing tomatoes with your hands. Add tomatoes and 1/2 cup water to the skillet. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is slightly thickened (approximately 15 minutes). Season with salt.
3. Carefully crack eggs over sauce. Cover skillet and cook until eggs set (5-7 minutes). With a spoon, baste the egg whites with the tomato mixture, being careful not to break the yolk. Sprinkle dish with feta and parsley and serve with warm bread or pitas for dipping!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

M&M Cookies

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There's just something about m&m cookies that are undeniably happy. Don't these pictures just cheer you up? Don't tell me m&m cookies are just for kids. Although I made these for some kids in celebration of their new baby sister, I also shared them with plenty of "big kids" as well! All the kids, big, little, or neither, were fans of these chewy cookies studded with the milk chocolate candies.

Because I was trying to avoid flat, greasy cookies, I went with a recipe off of allrecipes.com that called for shortening instead of butter. While these cookies were spot-on in terms of texture, I thought they lacked that signature buttery taste that I personally love in cookies. Because I don't want to sacrifice the texture of these, next time I think I'd make them with half butter, half shortening to achieve the best of both worlds! There were plenty of reviews on allrecipes.com from people who had used all butter, all shortening, or a mix...any combination will work, it's really up to you and your preference!

In short, these cookies are happy and yummy, and therefore worth the small bit of trans fat, if you go the shortening route. Everything in moderation, friends! 

One Year Ago: Black Bean Burgers

M&M Cookies
from allrecipes.com
-1 cup packed brown sugar
-1/2 cup white sugar
-1 cup shortening (I recommend using 1/2 cup shortening, 1/2 cup butter)
-2 eggs
-1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp salt
-1 1/2 cups m&ms

1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a mixing bowl, mix sugar, eggs, shortening, and vanilla thoroughly. Add in flour, salt, and baking soda, mixing to combine. Stir in 3/4 cup of m&ms.
2. Using a cookie scoop or a spoon, drop dough onto cookie sheets. Press a few additional m&ms into the top of each cookie.
3. Bake cookies for 9-11 minutes.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Easy Turkey Chili

turkey chili
Easy Turkey Chili

I'm going to keep this post simple, much like this recipe. I had a bite of this at my mom's house-she got the recipe from her friend Kathy-and thought it was delish. When my mom told me it was a cinch to make, I added it to my menu plan for the week. Simple meals are my friend these days!
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Turkey Chili
This doesn't take long to make--once you brown the turkey, it's just a lot of dumping the ingredients into the pot and then letting it heat up. You could easily make this in the crockpot--just brown your meat, add it to the slow cooker with everything else and cook it on low or warm all day while you're out and about.

We loved this, and I can see it being a staple in our house this Winter!

One Year Ago: Pumpkin Cake (to date, one of my favorite pumpkin dishes ever!!)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin Butterscotch Cookies

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Oops, pumpkin two days in a row! Hopefully I don't have too many pumpkin haters in my midst, because the stack of pumpkin cans stored in a closet is nowhere close to being gone ;) I promise I'll be back tomorrow with a non-pumpkin (but equally "Fall" inspired!) recipe.

These cookies are more cake-like than cookie-like, but even as a chewy-cookie lover, I couldn't get enough of these soft pumpkin cookies. You could easily substitute chocolate chips, but I loved the sweetness of the butterscotch paired with the spicy pumpkin. Make a batch of these and share with your pumpkin-loving friends...and then use your leftover pumpkin puree to make some scones!

One Year Ago: Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie

Pumpkin Butterscotch Cookies
from Annie's Eats, originally from Joy the Baker
*yield: 3 dozen cookies

-2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 1/2 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 tsp ground cinnamon
-2 large eggs
-1 cup sugar
-1/2 cup vegetable oil
-1 cup pumpkin puree
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 cup butterscotch chips

1. Preheat oven to 325F and line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a small bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
3. With an electric mixer, in a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until smooth. Add oil, pumpkin, and vanilla, mixing until combined. Gradually add the dry ingredients while mixing on low, just until incorporated.
4. Stir in butterscotch chips with a spatula.
5. Using a large spoon or a cookie scoop, drop mounds of dough onto baking sheets, a few inches between each. Bake for 14-16 minutes (if baking 2 sheets at once, rotate halfway through), until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
6. Cool cookies on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes before moving to a wire rack and cooling completely. Store in an airtight container.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal

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Do you ever get nervous cooking for people? I always have a little bit of apprehension when I'm making something that will be eaten by someone other than Ryan or me. Of course, most people I know are probably too nice to tell me if something I make is terrible (save for my sister Julia, love you Ju!), but I always worry that secretly people might be eating and thinking "ew". As I become more confident in my baking and cooking, the nervousness has lessened. Except when it comes to making something for my mom. If you know my mom, you know she's kind of a Martha Stewart, only prettier, nicer, and, in my own humble opinion, even more talented. While some of her skills I will never possess (the talent for perfect accessorizing or the art of decorating a room, for example), I at least have a shot in the kitchen!

Now, at twenty-four years old, I truly appreciate the time she put into cooking meals for our family of six. I sometimes struggle to get food on the table for two of us, I can't imagine adding a bunch of picky kids to the mix! To thank her, I enjoy the chance to cook for her from time to time, even if it does make me a little nervous. When I was home recently for the marathon, I volunteered to make breakfast for the family. The dish of choice? Pumpkin baked oatmeal! I figured this was safe, given our family's love for amish baked oatmeal and I was eager to adapt the recipe I had seen on The Ungourmet.
We all loved this--my mom included. Both of us agreed that some crunch in the oatmeal would've put it over the top; I recommend adding at least half a cup of chopped pecans to the oatmeal mixture before baking! Otherwise, it was the perfect breakfast for a crisp Fall morning!

One Year Ago: Amish Baked Oatmeal (too funny, I guess this is the time of year for baked oatmeal!)

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal
adapted from The Ungourmet

-3 cups old-fashioned oats
-1 cup maple syrup
-2 tsp cinnamon
-1 tsp nutmeg
-1/2 tsp ground ginger
-1/2 tsp salt
-2 tsp baking powder
-1/4 cup dried cranberries
-1 cup diced apple
-1 1/2 cups milk
-1 cup pumpkin puree
-4 tbsp melted butter
-2 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a round casserole dish.
2. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (cranberry and apple too!). In a separate bowl, mix milk, butter, pumpkin, maple syrup, and eggs. Whisk until smooth and add to dry ingredients, stirring to combine.
3. Pour pumpkin mixture into greased dish. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
4. Serve immediately, with warmed milk and brown sugar for topping!

This is linked to Eat at Home.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Peanut Butter Banana Panini

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Once again, I found myself missing vacation. And by missing vacation I mean craving some Mike & Patty's breakfast sandwiches! On our first visit to Mike & Patty's, I ordered the grilled banana sandwich with cinnamon honey butter. Without gushing too much, let me just say it blew me away. Had the line not been so long, I would have immediately ordered another. In fact I was still wiping the crumbs from my mouth when I declared to Ryan that I would absolutely try to make this at home.

Much like the October special egg sandwich, I knew I couldn't reach the perfection that Mike & Patty had, and I instead added a little McLaury flair...this time in the form of peanut butter.

These sandwiches are simple to whip up, making them perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Heck, I might start making these as a quick after-work snack (does anyone else get hit with that 4 pm stomach growl? I've found the solution!).

If you don't have a panini press, no worries. You can just as easily make these on a skillet, just as if you were making a grilled cheese. I'll continue to make these with our panini press, but I plan to double (maybe triple?) the amount of bananas to give the sandwich some oomph. These pictures make the sandwich look rather weak and unassuming, but I assure you that the flavor will surprise you!

One Year Ago: Caramel Corn

Peanut Butter Banana Panini
*for 2 sandwiches

-4 slices of hearty wheat bread
-2 tbsp peanut butter
-1-2 bananas (fairly ripe!)
-1-2 tbsp butter
-cinnamon & honey, to taste

1. In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Slice bananas and add to buttered skillet. Drizzle generously with honey and sprinkle with cinnamon. Allow bananas to saute for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally to coat bananas in butter, cinnamon, and honey.
2. While bananas are cooking, toast slices of bread. Once toasted, spread 1 tbsp of peanut butter on two of the slices, one for each sandwich.
3. Remove bananas from heat and top on peanut-buttered bread. Top with plain slice of toast and place in panini press. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, until sandwich is pressed and heated through.

 This post is linked to Eat at Home.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A CHOCOLATE Review (x2!)

me in all my chocolate-tasting glory!

It doesn't take a whole lot of poking around on this blog to figure out that I like dessert, a LOT, and that there's a lot of baking happening in our kitchen. However, sometimes I pawn the goodies off too quickly and the top of our fridge is empty (for whatever reason, I've taken to storing all baked goods on top of the fridge. Sigh. Someday I'll have a giant kitchen and pantry!). When we're without baked goods, I find myself digging into my baking stash to eat from any number of the bags of chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, etc. that I'm constantly accumulating. So you can imagine my delight when I was given the opportunity to taste and review not one, but two, different types of chocolate recently.

The first was sent to me by Foodbuzz, through part of their Tastemakers program. I received 3 samples of the new Ghirardelli LUXE Milk Chocolate line: milk chocolate, hazelnut, and almond. Normally, I prefer dark chocolate over milk chocolate, but I was still eager to give these a taste. I must say, Ghirardelli knows their stuff! This chocolate was perfectly creamy and smooth and even a non-milk chocolate lover like me could enjoy this! My favorite was the almond, followed by the hazelnut. I'll always choose nuts over plain and this was no exception! Thanks Foodbuzz for allowing me to indulge in some seriously good milk chocolate!

My second chocolate-tasting experience was courtesy of Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate, a St. Louis-based company. If you browse their website, you'll see that they have a variety of tempting-looking products for sale, everything from truffles to pumpkin bark to a chocolate Bingo card (don't tell me that doesn't excite you!!). I was sent two boxes from their new Dreams line--one box of the mint dreams (dark chocolate with a mint filling) and one box of fruit-filled dark and milk chocolates). I recruited Ryan to help me sample and we went to town. I promise we didn't knock out two boxes of chocolate in one sitting...we have a lot of half-eaten chocolates in the freezer if anyone wants to come help finish them off ;)

Our thoughts? Ryan preferred the box of Mint Dreams and was only so-so about the Fruit Dreams. This surprised me because normally he's a huge fruit lover in any form. I, on the other hand, didn't expect to like the fruit-filled chocolates and absolutely loved them! My favorites were the orange and the lime, though there weren't any that I truly disliked. My one complaint is that I wish they would've been labeled...if I were giving it to someone who strongly detested certain flavors, they would have no idea which was which. The fruit-filled chocolates were either covered in milk or dark chocolate whereas the mint-filled chocolates were all about the dark chocolate. As mentioned above, dark chocolate is usually my go-to variety, so I enjoyed these best. In summary, the chocolates were a nice treat and I'm so thankful to Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate for sending some my way! If you're in the St. Louis area, you should check out one of their many locations...and if not, you can also order their chocolates (ahem, bingo cards!!) online!

the aftermath...
One Year Ago: Mini Oreo Cheesecakes