Author Archives: heather

Oatmeal Fudge Bars

It has been a long time since I have been in the kitchen. It all started with a nasty case of food poisoning, of course from one of my favorite places to eat…so upsetting, and then the following week I was in the hospital with kidney stones. Cooking was quickly put on the back burner during my recovery and desire to just feel normal again.

Yesterday I took a cooking class at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. It was a great motivator to get me back in the kitchen. We made some great recipes, which I will share soon once I have a chance to recreate them.

This recipe I am sharing is from a new book my wonderful friend Lindsay gave me for my birthday. The book is published by America’s Test Kitchen, and if you are unfamiliar, just know that they know whats up with food. Trust that the recipe will be one of the best possible versions of whatever you are cooking. This recipe caught my eye because I had all of the ingredients in my kitchen already. It could not have been any easier for me to wade back into the kitchen. I am so happy to be back!

Ingredients:

CRUST AND TOPPING

  • 1 1/2 cups of quick oats
  • 1 1/2 cups of packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 12 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted and cooled

FILLING

  • 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of light brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons of instant espresso or coffee powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 cups of semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs

Prepare the crust and topping:

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325.

Line a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with an aluminum foil or parchment paper sling (see the image above). Melt the butter and allow to cool. Whisk oats, sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Stir in the melted butter until combined. Reserve 1 1/4 cups of the mixture for the topping. Pour the remaining oats into the pan and press firmly to evenly coat the bottom. Bake for 8 minutes until it is light golden brown. Allow to cool for 1 hour.

Make the filling:

Preheat the oven to 325.

Whisk flour, sugar, espresso, and salt together in a medium bowl. Melt the chocolate chips and butter together in the microwave, stirring often, for 1 – 3 minutes. Transfer the chocolate mixture to a large bowl and let cool slightly. I am really lazy, so I put the chocolate mixture into the Kitchenaid at this point, but you could still do it by hand if you want. Whisk in the eggs until just combined. Stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated.

Spread the filling evenly over the cooled crust and smooth the top. Sprinkle the reserved oat topping over the chocolate. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached.

Let the bars cool in the pan for about 2 hours. Remove from the pan using the sling. Slice and serve.

Source: America’s Test Kitchen: Menu Cookbook

 

Breakfast Bake

I first made this breakfast bake on Thanksgiving morning last year. My brother and sister do not eat meat, so we made some adjustments. When I went to make it a second time, I added regular bacon, which I had on hand. I made it the night before to save myself some time since I was anticipating morning laziness. I encourage you to try this dish and use things you have on hand to be creative, and help clean out the fridge.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces Canadian bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 pound baby spinach (10 cups)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 9 large eggs
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 8 cups 1 1/2-to-2-inch cubes Italian bread (from a 1-pound loaf)
  • 6 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)

Butter a 3-quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon butter. In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high. Add bacon, onion, and garlic and cook until onion is softened, about 2 minutes. Gradually add spinach to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Scatter half the bread in dish and top with half the spinach mixture and half the cheese. Top with remaining bread, spinach mixture, and cheese. Pour egg mixture into dish and gently press bread to submerge. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours (or up to overnight).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Uncover dish and bake until bread is golden brown and custard is just set, 45 to 50 minutes (cover with foil if browning too quickly). Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Everyday Food Magazine

Banana, Chocolate, and Peanut Butter Granola

Yes, this is as good as it looks. And no, you will not be able to stop eating it. I made this granola a while ago and it was gone in about a day and a half, so I had to make it again. It is a great snack, and is so irresistible. I made my own applesauce for this recipe, which you can choose to do or not. I got so used to making it for Gwenny to eat, that I can’t really see myself buying it in a jar knowing how easy it is. The original recipe says that the chocolate is optional, but…come on.

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups rolled oat
  • 2 1/2 cups puffed rice cereal
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, warmed slightly
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups dried banana chips
  • 1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

To make your own applesauce:

Preheat the oven to 400. Peel and core 2 apples, or more if you’d like extra. Cut the apples into large chunks and place in a casserole dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until apples are very tender. Transfer apples and any juices into a food processor and blend until smooth.

For the granola:

Preheat the oven to 325.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the rolled oats and puffed rice cereal.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the honey, applesauce, mashed banana, peanut butter, salt, cinnamon and brown sugar until smooth.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until the oat mixture is evenly coated. Spread onto the prepared baking sheet in a thick even layer.

Bake for 15 minutes, then pull out of the oven and carefully turn the granola over in segments.  Bake for an additional 15 minutes.  Depending on the size of your baking sheet, the center may not be fully dried.  If necessary, remove the edges of cooked granola and bake the remaining granola for 10-15 minutes more or until done, being careful not to over-bake. Cool on a wire rack.

Once the granola has cooled slightly, crumble it into a large bowl.  Add in the dried banana chips, honey roasted peanuts and bittersweet chocolate. Mix well to combine.  Store in an airtight container.

Source: Annie’s Eats

Open Faced Egg Sandwich

Clearly Lindsay and I both really enjoy using eggs in our cooking, but they are so versatile and delicious that you can’t really be surprised that they pop up on here so often. This recipe is actually a way of using the left over spring pesto that I made and used for a pasta dish earlier in the week. I love when food magazines give you a creative way to use up the surplus of sauce that you will have, especially since I am sometimes cooking for one when Dan is traveling for work.

This is a pretty simple sandwich to make and is one of those things that is just so good you wonder why you didn’t ever think to make it before…or why Martha Stewart was keeping the recipe all to herself. She really is so selfish sometimes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 hard-boiled egg, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 thick slices of country-style bread, toasted (I used sourdough, twas delish)
  • 4 slices of prosciutto (optional, but recommended)
  • ~1/3 cup of shaved Parmesan
  • pepper

For the Pesto:

  • 1 bunch of parsley, large stems removed
  • 1/2 bunch of mint, stems removed
  • 1/2 cup of toasted sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

*You won’t need all of this pesto for the sandwich. It is great tossed with pasta and shrimp. It will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Make the pesto by blending all of the ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

Spread 1-2 tablespoons of the pesto on each slice of toasted bread, depending on how large your slice is, and top with prosciutto. Place the sliced egg and shaved Parmesan on the sandwich and drizzle with olive oil and pepper.

Source: Everyday Food Magazine: April 2012

Baked Artichokes with Gorgonzola and Herbs

Spring is here, which means there are a lot of yummy things now in season. Gwenny and I were strolling through Stew Leonard’s working on overcoming her fear of the mooing cow head when we passed a very inviting mound of artichokes. I have had this recipe in the back of my mind ever since I originally bought the cookbook years ago, so I picked out the best looking artichokes and we were on our way.

Don’t be afraid of trimming the artichokes. It is very easy, and if you are like me and like to have a visual, I have attached a link to the Food Network video where Giada makes this recipe at the bottom of this post. I made these while Dan was traveling, so I cut the recipe in half and put one of the boiled artichokes in the fridge for another day.

Ingredients

  • 4 artichokes
  • 3 lemons
  • 10 ounces of mild Gorgonzola cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons of heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of plain bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Trim the artichokes by cutting off the top inch or so. Cut the stem close to the base of the artichoke so the artichoke can stand upright, and remove some of the tough outer leaves. Using kitchen shears, trim the sharp points off of any remaining outer leaves. Drop the artichokes into the boiling water. Halve the lemons and squeeze the juice into the boiling water, then toss in the lemons. Cook the artichokes until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain the artichokes upside down on a clean kitchen towel and let cool.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the Gorgonzola cheese, cream, thyme, 2 teaspoons of the parsley, the garlic, salt, and pepper. In another small bowl, stir together the bread crumbs and the remaining tablespoon of parsley.

Preheat the oven to 400. Spread the artichokes open with your fingers and use a small spoon to scrape out the center choke. You want to get out all of the hairy looking part as well. Don’t be afraid. Stuff the cheese mixture into the artichokes and arrange them in a baking dish. Sprinkle the artichokes with the bread-crumb mixture, then drizzle them with the olive oil. Bake until the artichokes are heated through, the cheese is melted, and the bread crumbs are crisp and golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer the artichokes to a serving dish and serve.

Source: Giada’s Kitchen

Video from Foodnetwork.com