Monday, April 28, 2014

Chocolate Oatmeal Peanut Butter Bars

When this yummy recipe popped up on my Face Book feed I had to take a second look. It didn't take me long to realize I needed to make these bars immediately! Like right now, luckily all the ingredients are pantry staples at my house. They came together quickly and baked in 20 minutes. I couldn't resist and tasted a very warm bite--amazing but messy. I put the pan in the fridge till the chocolate cooled. I cut them in good sized bars, wrapped them in parchment and then put them in a cute paper bag. Just the perfect treat for a friends birthday or just for no reason.
Thanks Mel from Mel's Kitchen Cafe--this was just perfect! I adore her blog!

Chocolate Oatmeal Peanut Butter Bars
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup butter---softened
1/3 cup peanut butter, I used crunchy but choose your favorite
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, this is 3.5 ounces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup peanut butter chips--I only use Reese's
1 cup chocolate chips--I tried 60% Bittersweet, yummy but next time I might try milk chocolate and go with a peanut butter cup in mind. Use the chocolate you love but don't skimp on the peanut butter chips.

In a medium bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, salt and oatmeal, whisk well.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together the butter, peanut butter and sugars. Mix well, about 3 minutes. Mix in the egg and egg yolk and the vanilla until combined.
Gently stir in the dry ingredients and chips. Mix until just combined--don't over mix.
Press batter in a greased 9x13 pan. I use my small offset scraper to even out stiff batter.
Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes. Mine took the full 20 minutes. Bars should just begin to brown around the edges--don't over bake--they will be dry
Printable Recipe.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Berry Sour Cream Pie

It was my sweet Mother-in-Laws Birthday. I do think birthdays demand a special dessert. I reviewed my Pinterest boards, favorite treats and finally came up with what turned out to be a winner. I knew Geneel liked cheesecake, she also likes pie and fruit. I found a recipe on Jamie Cooks it Up that fit my criteria, I changed it to suit my needs. Mostly because I did not wast to go to the store so I made it with what I had in the freezer/pantry.

Berry Sour Cream Pie
I started out with a homemade graham cracker crust
1 sleeve of graham crackers, crushed
1/4 cup granulated sugar,
5 tablespoons of melted butter.
A pinch of salt
Add graham crackers to a food processor--process till smooth, finely ground.
Add sugar and pulse until combined.
Add butter and salt and pulse again to combined
Put damp crumbs in a deep dish pie plate--I used a stoneware pie plate. Evenly press crumbs on the bottom of the pan as well as up the sides. I use a small measuring cup and press the crumbs firmly in the corner and then up the side. Be patient--this might take a minute. Get the crust as even as possible. Put the crust in the freezer to chill.
You could also use a store bought graham cracker crust. A homemade or purchased regular pie crust.

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
10 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
3 cups fruit--if frozen defrost it in the microwave for a minute of so. You want the fruit room temperature when you add it to the sauce.
dash salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon butter
Mix cornstarch and sugar in a medium sauce pan stir well, add water and lemon juice. Heat on medium heat until mixture has thickened and is very hot. Stir rapidly so it doesn't lump. Add fruits and gently stir until mixture is thick, bubbling and shiny. Stir in salt, vanilla and butter. Pour sauce in a bowl, put in the refrigerator and cool to at least room temperature. I used one cup of blue berries and 2 cups of raspberries--it is what I had in the freezer.

1 8 ounce package of cream cheese--softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup heavy cream (whipped)---you can use an 8 ounce container of Cool Whip in place of the cream, if you do, use all of the powdered sugar and vanilla in the cream cheese mixture.
3/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
dash salt
In you stand mixer with a whip attachment whip the cream till soft peaks  appear. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla. Don't bother to clean your whip. Using a rubber scrapper scrape the cream into a small bowl. Using the slightly dirty bowl and whip (it is ok today) add your softened cream cheese. Now cooks when I say 'softened' cream cheese I mean almost warm--very soft. Put it in the not so clean bowl, add the not so clean whip and whip the living daylights out of the cream cheese. Lumpy cream cheese is not fun in any dessert. Now is your moment to get the lumps out. Add the 3/4 cup sugar and beat again until very smooth and creamy. This is how your dessert will look. Add the sour cream, half teaspoon of vanilla and dash of salt. Beat gently again. You should have a smooth, dreamy, light almost white filling. Now with a rubber spatula fold in the whipped cream. Do not over mix once the whipped cream has been added as the cream will slightly deflate. No one likes deflated cream! Now you have one delicious filling!
Take the pie shell out of the freezer, add the creamy mixture to the pie and smooth.
Cover the white filling with the now cooled fruit filling. Don't try and overfill--it will make a mess. Scrape the leftovers into a small container and top you waffles, pancakes or french toast with it.
I realize that this pie looks like too much work but take it a step at a time and it will come right together. This recipe makes one deep dish pie or 12 individual tart servings. Purchase the cute little graham cracker shells, who doesn't like their very own dessert!
Printable Recipe

Monday, April 14, 2014

Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches with Slaw

This could just be the best 30 minutes you spend today. Rarely is a recipe so good I make it two nights in a row! The first night we ate it so fast I didn't get a photo. The second night we showed a little restraint and I was able to get a picture. Another recipe from The Best Simple Recipes from America's Test Kitchen did not disappoint. This meal is easily on the table in 30 minutes. I was impressed how a few simple ingredients that are pantry staples made such a delicious dish! This will appear often in our dinner rotation.

Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches with Slaw
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup barbecue sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon hot sauce (I used Franks)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 bag (16 ounce) coleslaw mix
4 -6 hamburger buns

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned, about a minute on each side. Stir in barbecue sauce, 1/2 cup vinegar and hot sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until cooked through, about 10 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through. Transfer chicken to a large plate and tent with foil. Continue to simmer sauce until thickened, about 3 minutes. Cover and keep warm.
Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise, buttermilk and remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar to a bowl. Stir in coleslaw mix and season with salt and pepper.
Shred chicken into bite size pieces. Return chicken to skillet with sauce and toss to combine. Serve on buns topped with coleslaw.
Printable Recipe

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Skillet Roasted Chicken and Potatoes

This may not be a photogenic bird but it is delicious!  The recipe comes from one of the latest issues of Cook's County Cooking. I trust that magazine--the recipes are consistently good. A recipe must be exceptional if I make it twice in one week. This may not a cost effective meal, you can buy a Rotisserie Chicken at Costco for five dollars. can't buy this flavor at Costco for five dollars! The chicken is 100% chicken and the potatoes are out of this world. Skillet Roasted Chicken and Potatoes is Sunday Dinner status but you can easily make it on a week night--I did.

Skillet Roasted Chicken and Potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest, plus lemon wedges for serving
Salt and Pepper
1 (4-pound) whole chicken, giblets discarded
2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, ends squared off, and sliced into 1-inch-thick-rounds (yes, I measured them)

1.  Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, Italian seasoning, paprika, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl.  Pat chicken dry with paper towels and use your fingers or the handle of a wooden spoon to carefully separate skin from breast.  Rub oil mixture all over chicken and underneath skin of breast.  Tie legs together with kitchen twine and tuck wingtips behind back.

2. Toss potatoes with remaining 1 Tbsp. oil, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Arrange potatoes, flat sides down, in single layer in 12-inch oven safe nonstick skillet.  Place skillet over medium heat and cook potatoes without moving them, until brown on bottom, 7 to 9 minutes (do not flip).

3. Place chicken, breast side up, on top of potatoes and transfer skillet to oven.  Roast until breast registers 160 degrees and thighs register 175 degrees, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.  Transfer chicken to carving board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 20 minutes.

4.  Meanwhile, cover skillet, return potatoes to oven, and roast until tender, about 20 minutes.  Carve chicken and serve with potatoes and lemon wedges. Prepare to be amazed.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sweet Chili Chicken Salad

I get together monthly with a group of fun gals, we eat dinner and visit for an hour. We have new mothers, grandmothers, mothers of teens and toddlers. It is one fun group! This month we had assigned pot luck. I do love potluck but I don't really like all desserts or all potato salads (do people make potato salads any more)?? So an assigned potluck is the way to go.
I offered to bring a main dish salad. I perused my blog and thought about making Thai Chicken Salad or Vietnamese Summer Roll Salad or even Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps. Then I checked out my Pinterest Boards--so many yummy salads. I decided I must try a new salad. I had it narrowed down to Sweet Chili Chicken Salad from Kevin at Closet Cooking or Crunchy Cabbage Salad with Peanut Dressing from Blissfulblog. Sweet Chili Chicken Salad won but I will try the other salad soon.
And win it did--everyone loved it! The dressing was the perfect combo of sweet and salty with a few warm undertones. The salad was crunchy and just delicious. Chopped peanuts were the final addition. It was perfect. I am so excited to share it with you.

Sweet Chili Chicken Salad
2 heads of thin sliced romaine
1/2 head of thin sliced Napa cabbage
I like to rinse these off after I have chopped them and then give them a spin in the salad spinner
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
I will also add a handful of torn basil when it is growing in my yard
1/2 of a English cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
2-3 carrots peeled and sliced with a julienne peeler, this gadget deserves a place in your 'gadget' drawer
1/2 red pepper, sliced then diced in smaller pieces
4 green onions, sliced thin
3 cups fresh bean sprouts--this is key in this recipe, please don't leave them out
chopped peanuts
2 boneless chicken breasts--I poured about 1/2 cup of the dressing over the chicken breasts and let them marinate in the fridge for 3-4 hours. I then baked them at 375 for about 25 minutes (or follow your package instructions). Slightly cool chicken breasts and then shred or slice thin, season generously with salt and pepper.. You could use any kind of cooked chicken in this recipe.

Sweet Chili Dressing
1 cup sweet chili sauce
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoon soy sauce
4 tablespoons lime juice (about 2 large limes)
2 tablespoons peanut butter
4 cloves pressed garlic
4 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
Mix all ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until peanut butter is melted.
Cool before serving, I used about 1/2 cup to marinade the meat the rest I put on the table and let guests dress their own salad.
This salad was delicious on day two and day three! Perfect lunch--I did not get tired of it. I want to make it again soon.
Printable Recipe

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Hawaiian Haystacks

Hawaiian Haystacks is a classic! This dish feeds a crowd, it is easy to customize--even the pickiest eater will find something here to like. I have been making it for years, the gravy is usually a can of Cream of Chicken soup, broth, milk and maybe some sour cream. Not bad and very easy. But in my quest to feed my family less processed food I have been looking for a 'from scratch' recipe. Mel's Kitchen Cafe to the rescue. Her recipe is easy and delicious, I have no desire to reinvent the wheel so I happily tried her version. 
This recipe will make the perfect Sunday Dinner when I invite the Grandmas and kids. Everyone can bring a topping and we will all live happily ever after! I do like a good ending.

Hawaiian Haystacks
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
3 Tbsp Butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 cup chicken broth

In a large skillet over medium heat melt the butter and add the chicken and onions.  Cook until the onions are translucent and the chicken is cooked through, 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for one minute.

Sprinkle the flour over the onions, chicken, and garlic and stir to combine.  Cook for one minute. Slowly whisk in the milk and chicken broth.  Cook, stirring constantly, and bring the sauce to a simmer.  Add the salt and pepper.  Continue simmering, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened, 5-8 minutes.

Serve over rice with your choice of toppings.  Some of our favorites are celery, tomatoes, olives, pineapple, mandarin oranges, peas, green onions, cheddar cheese, crunchy noodles, and slivered almonds.
Printable Recipe