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Dried Fruit Breakfast Bars

DSC_1999(1600x1200)Mrs J is always on the lookout for these cereal bar types of recipes and tried out this one that uses dried fruit. I got a notion some time ago that we needed some dried cranberries so I looked on Amazon and found a 5 pound box of them that looked fairly priced, then saw blueberries and cherries from the same source so I bought a box of each, thinking they would keep well enough.  They do keep but we are happy to find recipes that help us use them up.DSC_2001(1600x1200)We even found some of the whole wheat pastry flour the recipe called for at the local Kroger store.  Mrs J tells me that she used 1 cup each of the blueberries and cherries, and 1-1/4 cup of the cranberries, and used pecans in the crust.  She substitutes Splenda for sugar throughout.DSC_1998(1600x1200)I worried that we would mess up the bars getting them out of the pan but they came out of it quite readily when inverted onto a board, note that you should let them cool down before you try this.

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Dinner Menu: Chicken Primavera and Fruity Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake1

I love a quick and easy meal that looks and tastes like it took much longer. This menu sure qualifies. Lots of fresh vegetables and if you want to really amp up the flavor, use a flavored linguine, either from a local source (farmer’s markets usually have them) or the gourmet section of the market. A lemon pepper pasta is really good with this. For the vegetables, I’d go with whatever you favor and is fresh, think of the list below as a suggestion. Maybe add mushrooms, artichoke hearts, fresh spring peas.

The carrot cake is not what you’d expect, it is a fruity, light confection with a definite spring touch.  A favorite when I’m taking birthday cake requests.

Meanwhile, on the board tonight:

  1. Chicken Primavera
  2. Carrot Cake

Chicken Primavera

  • 3 boneless chicken breasts, cubed in large pieces
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz sliced carrots
  • 8 oz broccoli crowns
  • 1 small yellow summer squash, sliced
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed or ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • ¾ cup chicken broth or equivalent
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 2 oz grated parmesan
  • 9 oz fresh linguine

skillet, large saucepan

Sprinkle salt & pepper over chicken pieces. Heat oil in skillet, add chicken and saute for 5 minutes over medium-high heat, until golden on all sides. Add carrots, broccoli and squash, and stir for 2 minutes. Add basil, garlic, tomatoes. Stir additional 2 minutes. Remove mixture to bowl. Add chicken broth and wine to skillet, deglaze drippings, bring to a boil, reduce heat, add chicken mixture, toss and cover. Reduce heat to low and let simmer while pasta cooks. Bring water to boil in saucepan and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain very well and toss with chicken mixture. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve.

Carrot Cake

  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 ounce can crushed pineapple
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Frosting:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar*
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

2 bowls, 8×8 baking dish, well greased

Preheat oven to 350°

In a large bowl, combine grated carrots, flour, white sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in egg, oil, vanilla, pineapple and pecans. Spoon batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.

Frosting: In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients, except nuts. Beat until smooth. Spread on cooled cake and garnish with pecans.

* I use half of the sugar because I don’t like it quite that sweet.

Shopping List:

  • 3 boneless chicken breasts
  • 8 oz sliced carrots
  • 8 oz broccoli crowns
  • 1 small yellow summer squash, sliced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • ¾ cup chicken broth or equivalent
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 2 oz grated parmesan
  • 9 oz fresh linguine
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 8 ounce can crushed pineapple
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Also: salt, pepper, olive oil, vanilla, butter, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, garlic, basil,

Graham Cracker Toffee Bars

DSC_1566 (1600x1060)Josie, a commenter at Balloon Juice, put this recipe up in an open thread:

Graham Cracker Toffee

Ingredients
16 graham cracker sheets
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup chopped pecans
6 oz. milk or semi sweet chocolate chips

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
Cover prepared cookie sheet with whole graham cracker sheets.
In saucepan, bring brown sugar and butter to a boil over medium heat. Boil for four minutes stirring constantly. Pour over graham crackers and bake for 8 minutes at 350 degrees F.
After baking, Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over the top of graham cracker and let sit for about two minutes. Spread melted chocolate with a knife. Sprinkle nuts over the top.

I made the recipe in 2 quarter size sheet pans because they were new and I really wanted to use them for something, anything!DSC_1571 (1600x1060)We used Kroger’s house brand crackers and I’m thinking they were sized differently than the ones Josie wrote the recipe for, but cover the bottom with crackers and you’ll be on the right track.  I used way more chocolate chips than the recipe called for, at least twice as many or more, and I’m thinking that it would be better to melt the chocolate separately and then pour it over the toffee after it comes out of the oven, but these came out OK.  I did put the trays with the chips back into the hot oven to help the melting.

 

Breakfast Treat: Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Pecans

Photo from Martha Stewart

Photo from Martha Stewart

When I’m expecting company for the holidays, I usually indulge in baking sweet treats that can be enjoyed with coffee for breakfast, at people’s leisure. I love a good coffee cake. Add pecans and I’m sold.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Pecans

Cake:

  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsps vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Streusel:

  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsps cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 ½ cup whole pecans

Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsps orange juice

4 mixing bowls

Bundt pan, greased and floured

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

With a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Using a spatula, scrape the sides and bottom to make sure the mixture if fully combined.

For the streusel, crumble the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl (I use a fork or pastry cutter). Gently mix in pecans.

Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Remove cake from the pan and place on a serving plate. Whisk the powdered sugar and orange juice together, adding a more OJ if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.

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Bread Machine Banana Bread

DSC_0923 (1600x1060)Mrs J and I had shopping to do today and as we stirred about in preparation to leave I noticed two over ripe bananas.  I’ve never used our bread machine for banana bread but thought it would be nice to return to a great smelling house.  I found a recipe geared towards our machine but it should adapt easily to other models.  We subbed pecans for the walnuts in the recipe and added raisins and chocolate chips.  Worked great!

Thursday Night Menu: Tropical Nights Edition

Had a little trouble deciding what to post tonight. We’ve been pretty busy at work and we are all a bit tired, when I asked the guys what I should post, ordering pizza instead of cooking won out.

I pulled three different menus before I decided on a little taste of Sanibel Island. I like the fresh flavors in this menu and I really enjoy tuna and swordfish.

The Butter Pecan Turtle Bars are as decadent as they sound, and a breeze to make.

On the board tonight:

  1. Fish Tacos
  2. Black Bean Tropical Salad
  3. Butter Pecan Turtle Bars

Fish Tacos

  • 1 large mango, peeled & chopped
  • ½ large tomato, chopped
  • 1 small cucumber, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, chopped
  • 2 tbsp limejuice
  • 8 taco size flour tortillas
  • 1 lb halibut, swordfish or tuna, 1” thick
  • ½ tsp Jamaican jerk seasoning
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce

bowl, foil, platter

Combine mango, tomato, cucumber, cilantro, green onion, jalapeno in bowl. Toss with 1 tbsp limejuice and set aside.  Wrap tortillas in foil and warm in the oven or on the grill (keep away from coals) Drizzle remaining limejuice over fish, sprinkle with jerk and grill or broil for 5 to 9 minutes, until fish flakes easily. Cut fish into chunks, fill each tortilla with 1/8 of the fish, fruit mixture and lettuce. Serves 4

Black Bean Tropical Salad

  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 avocado, cubed*
  • 1 to 2 jalapeños
  • ½ large tomato, chopped
  • ½ head red leaf lettuce, washed
  • 14 oz can black beans, drained

serving bowl

Seed & slice peppers & jalapenos. Add everything to serving bowl and toss with dressing.

*easiest way to slice an avocado is to cut in half, remove pit, cut cubes with a knife, then scoop out.

Dressing:

  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp limejuice
  • ¼ cup light olive oil
  • ¼ tsp crushed garlic

In jar or mixing cup, mix all ingredients together well.

Butter Pecan Turtle Bars

  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups pecan halves

Topping:

  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 12 oz milk chocolate chips

well oiled 9×13 baking dish, bowl, saucepan

Combine flour, brown sugar and 1/2 cup butter; blend until crumbly. Pat mixture firmly onto bottom of pan. Sprinkle pecan halves over the unbaked crust.

Topping: In small saucepan, combine brown sugar & butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to boil. Boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Drizzle caramel over pecans and crust. Bake at 350° for 18-20 minutes or until caramel layer is bubbly and crust is light brown. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with chocolate chips. Spread chips evenly as they melt. Cool completely before cutting.

Shopping List:

  • 1 large mango
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 3 green onions
  • 3 jalapeños
  • 8 taco size flour tortillas
  • 1 lb halibut, swordfish or tuna, 1” thick
  • 1 head red lettuce
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 avocado
  • 14 oz can black beans, drained
  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 1 ½ cups pecan halves
  • 12 oz milk chocolate chips

Also: lemon juice, limejuice, Jamaican jerk seasoning, light olive oil, crushed garlic

Copyright 2014 What’s 4 Dinner Solutions Cookbook: Summer Edition

Dinner Menu: Crispy Pecan Fish, Broccoli in Wine Sauce, and Shortbread

I thought I might post a grilling recipe this week, but our weather has been unsettle with thunderstorms, hail and tornado warnings that means grilling is out at the moment. This is a good menu if you’re stuck inside. I’ll have a grilling theme for the recipe exchange tomorrow. On the board tonight:

  1. Crispy Pecan Fish
  2. Hearty Bread
  3. Broccoli w/Garlic Wine Sauce
  4. Shortbread

Crispy Pecan Fish

  • 4-6 oz fish fillets –you’ll want a firm fish such as: red snapper, catfish, tilapia or haddock
  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ to 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp thyme, crushed
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

2 bowls, skillet Mix together in a bowl: flour, ½ of each: cayenne, thyme, paprika, salt & pepper in large bowl. Heat oil in skillet. Put milk in separate bowl. Dip fish in milk, dredge in flour mixture and add to pan. Cook over med-high heat, turning once until golden brown on both sides. About 5-6 minutes. Remove fish, keep warm. Drain oil and then add butter to skillet, melt and add pecans, remaining half of spices, cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until pecans are lightly browned, 3-5 minutes. Add lemon juice, spoon evenly over fish portions & serve. Broccoli w/Garlic Wine Sauce

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 16 oz broccoli crowns
  • 1 cup dry white wine (non-alcoholic ok)
  • salt & pepper to taste

skillet w/cover Heat oil, add garlic & broccoli, sauté 3-4 minutes. Add wine and let it boil for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently. Cover, lower heat to medium-low and cook for 2-3 minutes. Uncover, increase heat to medium and let remaining liquid simmer away, about 5 minutes more. Keep a close eye; you don’t want it to scorch. What you’re doing with this method is reducing the liquid until it is absorbed completely by the vegetables. Salt & pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Shortbread

  • 1 cup butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 ½ cups flour

baking sheet Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in flour. Chill for an hour. Divide in half. Place each half on baking sheet and pat each into approx. 7 inch circle. Prick each with a fork to make 16 wedges (total of 32). Bake for 30 minutes at 300°

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Banana Bar Pr0n

DSC_7797 (1600x1060)This recipe seems a little more involved than many we looked at but they did turn out rather well.  We made the brown butter frosting with Splenda and subbed a Splenda brown sugar blend for regular brown sugar.  The recipe called for cooking the bananas down in the oven first although it seems to me just as easy to do it in a pan atop the stove.  We are really liking the brown butter recipes we see for frostings.  Browning the butter adds a lot of flavor.

Dinner Menu: Baked Gnocchi in Fire Roasted Tomato-Basil Sauce

This is an elegant dinner that looks like it took you all day to prepare.  From start to finish I cooked the asparagus and gnocchi in 1/2 hour.  The strawberry bread takes an hour to cook, but it’s a breeze to put together.  So if you feel the need for something special, but still easy, this one could be for you.

On the board tonight:

  1. Baked Ricotta Gnocchi
  2. Broiled Asparagus
  3. Loaf of good crusty bread
  4. Strawberry Bread

Christmas Eve is spent eating good food at friends’ Mark and Larissa’s house. Mark’s mom is from Italy and Larissa’s mom is from Japan, and luckily for me, the subject always turns to food from both countries. This year we talked about ravioli, gnocchi and fish in salt domes. I have to confess I’m not a fan of gnocchi. Should be good, right? – potato goodness, covered in sauce. What’s not to love? It just isn’t a favorite of mine. Maybe because I’ve never had it fresh I am missing out. But after we discussed how to make it fresh, well, I don’t think I’d be making it anytime soon. Then I saw a recipe for Ricotta Gnocchi and it sounded good and best of all, easy.  So I’d thought I’d try it. This is what I came up with and it quickly became a favorite of my guests.

Baked Ricotta Gnocchi in Fire Roasted Tomato and Basil Sauce

Sauce:

  • 28 oz fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (or 1 tbsp fresh chopped)

Add ingredients in saucepan, bring to a low boil, reduce to low and let simmer while preparing gnocchi.

Topping:

  • 4 oz shredded mozzarella
  • 1 oz grated parmesan or Romano cheese

Gnocchi:

  • 15 oz Ricotta (whole or low-fat)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 oz fresh parmesan or Romano cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 cup unbleached flour

large stock pot, mixing bowl, mixer, glass baking dish- lightly oiled

While preparing gnocchi, bring water to boil in large sauce pan or stock pot. In a mixing bowl, mix together Ricotta and eggs. Add parmesan, salt, pepper and flour, stir in by hand until combined, do not over mix.  Bring water up to a low boil, you’ll want a low boil to keep the dough from falling apart as it hits the water.  Form dough into cookie dough sized balls (I use a cookie scoop, you can use two tablespoons) and drop into boiling water. Do not crowd, cook in several batches as needed (I managed 12-13 per batch of 1″ balls). Cook for 7 minutes, remove with slotted spoon, draining well,  to baking dish. When all the gnocchi are cooked, cover with sauce, and top with cheeses. Bake for 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven, until cheese is bubbling.

This week I actually made this a day ahead, keeping the gnocchi, sauce and topping separate, so I could bribe the guys at work to attend a lunch meeting.  I put it together and baked just before serving and it turned out very well.  I baked it for 20 minutes until it was heated through.

Broiled Asparagus

  • 1 lb Asparagus
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

baking sheet

Cut woody stems off of asparagus and toss lightly with olive oil. Spread onto baking sheet in one layer. Broil until lightly brown and tender, turning as each side browns, about 8-12 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Strawberry Bread

  • 1 ½ cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup butter
  • 12 oz frozen strawberries, thawed & chopped*
  • ½ cup chopped pecans

loaf pan, greased

Combine dry ingredients. Add eggs, oil, strawberries and pecans. Stir just until all ingredients are moistened. Spoon batter into loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes then run knife around edges & remove to cool on wire rack.

*I pureed mine, works fine, needs additional 5 minutes cooking time

Shopping List:

  • 28 oz fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • Fresh basil
  • 4 oz shredded mozzarella
  • 3 oz grated parmesan or Romano
  • 15 oz Ricotta (Whole or low-fat)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 lb asparagus
  • 1 loaf nice crusty bread
  • 12 oz frozen strawberries
  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 oz chopped pecans

Also: garlic, dried oregano (or fresh), salt, pepper, flour, baking soda, salt, pepper, olive oil, cinnamon, sugar

Originally Posted January 2010

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Breakfast for Dinner (or Anytime)

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I love pancakes. Just not for breakfast. So when I’m in the mood, it’s time for breakfast for dinner. Pictured above are JeffreyW’s fluffy pancakes, and I have a recipe for super fluffy pancakes, here.

Want to dress them up a bit? How about Blueberry Sour Cream Pancakes? Recipe here.

For something completely different and easy to make, German Pancakes with Walnut syrup, click here.

And what goes perfectly with pancakes? How about some bacon…JeffreyW candies his:

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JeffreyW’s Candied Bacon recipe is here and his Cayenne Candied Bacon (pictured above) recipe is here. And the basics of baking bacon vs. frying can be found here.

In case you missed it, this week’s full dinner menu was Spicy Potato Soup, Garlic Biscuits and Mocha Pudding Cake and can be found here.

What’s on your menu for the weekend? Are you a fan of breakfast for dinner? Hit the comments with your favorite breakfast recipes.

And the featured recipe tonight:

I love whole wheat pancakes, they are fluffy, hearty, nutty and sweet, just like some people I know. Making whole wheat pancakes can be tricky, though – I don’t want them to be heavy and dry, I still want light and fluffy. The recipe below serves that up.

Fluffy Whole Wheat Pancakes

Beat together until light and frothy:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

Sift together:

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp buttermilk powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

Whisk dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just moistened, batter will be lumpy. Ladle into a hot, well oiled skillet or griddle. [Reduce heat to medium after it has heated up because these brown quickly.]

While with white flour pancakes you’d wait to see bubbles on the top of pancakes before flipping them, you don’t want to do that with these. As soon as the bottom is golden, flip. And as soon as the bottom is again golden, remove.

This keeps them from being too dry. It’s a bit of a balancing act – you want to make sure they aren’t runny, but you also don’t want to over cook. As soon as the center bounces back they are ready to remove.

Top with butter and real maple syrup. Yum.

Until next week – TaMara

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