Monday, January 26, 2009

crumble be mine?

'Tis no secret that I have a thing for crumble. And there was a lonely jar of raspberry preserves in my fridge that needed a purpose. So I decided to sandwich the preserves with shortbread and crumble. The outcome? Berry Good Crumblebread Bars.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Butter, butter, and more butter. What would your inner dietitian say?! To eat it all in moderation, of course. Or if you want a large quantity of it.....substitute it
for...errr, dinner. Not that I've ever done that before... ;)

Anyway, kudos for the crumble go out to the Leah and Anita, keepers of the ever-so delicious crumble recipe. Somehow, though, my crumble never turns out like theirs. :( Maybe it's like that theory...that food always tastes better when someone else cooks it for you. Hmm. But whatever the reason, crumble is delicious. 'Nuff said.

And when life gives you extra crumble....what do you do with it? Make a crisp, of course! However, my fridge was bare of apples, and bananas looked really tasty sittin' pretty atop the toaster oven. Soooo, voila! Banana crisp! Now, I've always wondered why there are berry crisps, apple crisps, rhurbarb crisps, but no banana crisps. Why is this, and isn't this a sad fact of life? Bananas are so delicious...they definately deserved to be crispified.

So crispify, I did...and how delicious it was. However, I do believe that I see the problem with banana crisp. Brown bananas. Expose those puppies to the air, and WHHAAMMMO. You've got yourself ugly, brown, mushy bananas. So despite this dessert's delicious flavor, we'll see what the leftovers look like tomorrow morning. And if you'd like to try this dessert out for yourself, just chop up some bananas, place them in your oven-safe bowl, and sprinkle with some crumble.

Berry Good Crumblebread Bars
Shortbread recipe taken (and slightly altered) from Closet Cooking

For crumble:
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups oatmeal

For shortbread:
2 cups flour

1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 sticks butter
1/2 cup sugar

Raspberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare crumble: mix butter, flour, brown sugar, and oatmeal in medium-sized bowl. Set aside.

Prepare shortbread: mix flour and salt in a bowl. Cream the butter and sugar in another bowl. Mix the flour into the butter, and press into bottom of 8x8-inch baking pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

Over the shortbread, spoon on some preserves until covered. Take your crumble, and crumble it over the preserves, until mostly covered.

Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until crumble is browned and cookie is set.

Monday, January 19, 2009

garlic pasta dump

Could I be turning into...GASP... a cook? As in, one of those people who can improvise with real-life food ingredients?! Mayhaps, mayhaps. For today, I am week three into Operation: Eat Real Food, and I have only fallen off the bandwagon twice...aka have surcumbed to the powers and deliciousness of cereal for dinner.

So what was on the menu for tonight....or, actually, the entire week? Garlic Pasta Dump! Basically, I made garlicky olive oil, boiled up some pasta, and dumped in whatever veggies I had in my cupboard. So really, this recipe could be modified any way you'd like, depending
what you have on hand. Easy peesy, right?

So I love that we have a new housemate in our house this semester...Raluca!!! Not only does Raluca have mad table-dancing skills, but she has lots of cutesy kitchen utensils! Like this little oil pot that can be used to heat up garlic and olive oil without burning the garlic. Magic!

Just for the record, I used about 1/4 cup olive oil and about a full teaspoon of minced garlic and made 16 oz. (1 box) of pasta. This seemed like a good pasta:garlic:oil ratio.

So what was in today's dump? Olives, mushrooms, peas, and shrimp. Not a bad combination. And for the garlic oil part, basically you just heat up however much oil you think you'll need to coat your pasta, and add lotsss of garlic. I mean, you want to keep the vampires away, right? And really, if you heat up too much oil for some reason, you don't have to use all of it. Oh, and a word to the wise, garlic burns so so easily! Take that puppy off the stove when it starts smelling of garlic-deliciousness and before it starts to brown. Or else your house will smell of burnt garlic. And that is not a delicious smell.

Dear Meijer Pasta-Packing People,
Why was there gemelli and penne in my box of pasta today? I think there may be a slight problem in your pasta-packaging skills. Maybe you should check up on this.
Love, Patti

Hmmm, strange......but makes life interesting, I guess. :)

And TA DA! The finished pasta, post-cooking. Yes, there be definitely two types of pasta in that box. And for some strange reason (and I don't know why), I have a slight addiction to eating pasta sans sauce and salted. This tastes so so good. Don't ask, because I seriously don't know.

So when you've got your pasta all cooked, your veggies all ready, and your protein of choice cooked up, drain your pasta, stick it in a big bowl, and....1, 2, 3 DUMPPP IT ALL IN. Your mix-ins, that is. :)

Then take the garlic oil, and drizzle as much as you desire over the dumpage. Then serve. It's as easy as that. This is also great salted and cheesed (parmesan). Mmmmmm.

Garlic Dump Pasta

1/4 cup olive oil
1-2 tsp. garlic, minced
16 oz. (1 box) pasta, any kind
1 can mushrooms, drained
1 can peas, drained
Shrimp, cooked (about 20 small)
Olives, sliced
Basil, salt, and
parmesan, as desired

Fill a large pot with water. Generously sprinkle salt into water. Once water is boiled, prepare pasta according to directions on box.

While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil and garlic in small pot. Remove from heat when garlic is fragrant and before it turns brown.

Place pasta in a big bowl, and dump on the peas, mushrooms, olives, and shrimp. Pour over garlic oil, and gently mix until combined. Sprinkle with basil, salt, and parmesan, as desired.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

cookie SUCCESS.

Muah ha ha ha. I have done it. I have fixed the chocolate chip cookie bar cookie recipe. Because, obviously, I have nothing better to do but perfect recipes, since classes are still in that glorious two-week lull...where you can get away with doing minimal work. :)

So the big change here was adding more sugar, and increasing it to 3/4 cup each white and brown sugar. Also, the flour was reduced from 2 1/4 cups to 2 cups. I know, I know, not a huge change, but obviously it made a difference.

And again, no pictures since I am still camera-less. Hopefully not for long, though.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 sticks butter
3/4 white sugar
3/4 brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 13x9-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Mix flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. Set aside.

In mixer bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Add egg, mix in vanilla when egg is thoroughly incorporated. Slowly add flour mixture until all is added. Stir in chocolate chips.

Bake for 23 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cut into bars, and enjoy.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

lazy saturday lasagna

So one of my New Year's Resolutions is to eat real food for dinner. Yes, no more cereal for dinner for me! Or...only once in awhile. :) This week was Enchilada Week. Next week? Lasagna Week. Yum yum yum and nom nom nom.

So as you can probably tell from the pictures...spinach lasagna was the lasagna of choice for tonight. In attempts to get me to eat real food, my mom bought me a bag of spinach before sending me off to school after Christmas break. She'll be proud to know that this bag o' greens is going to be put to good use. Thanks, Mom. :)

Oh, and for the record...I am always in awe of how spinach cooks down to such a tiny amount. It's magic, or something!!!


Look at that! That pan was FULL to the brim of spinach. And now...I've got like 1/2 a cup. Seriously?! Oh, so serious.

Here are the lovely cast of characters for successful lasagna. Parm (aka parmesan cheese), basil, garlic, olives (which I discovered in my fridge and needed to be used), mushrooms, sauce, and cheese. Lotsa cheese. And don't forget the ricotta. It was hiding on the counter there, somewhere.

So I'm gonna have to admit, that I concocted this lasagna sans recipe. Sure, I looked at a few recipes beforehand to get a basic idea of what to do...but this is a 100% original recipe,
which I'm kinda proud of. :) Well...maybe we should see how it tastes before I go that far, haha.

So first off was the ricotta-mixture-making. All that shrunken spinach? Went into the ricotta, parm, basil, and garlic all mixed up with an egg...to hold things together, of course.

So this is how the layering-love works in a lovely 8x8-inch pan of your choice:

sauce
noodles
ricotta mixture
olives

mushrooms
mozzarella
...and once again.

And then top the mozzarella layer with sauce, noodles, and then LOTS of sauce. This is to provide ample moisture for the noodles to cook-up in the oven and get soft.

Ohhh, look at that cheesy-goodness.

Yum.

Because I made this lasagna in an 8x8-inch pan instead of a 13x9er, the noodles had to be broken. Which left me with reject mini-noodles. So what to do with these losers? Make them into appetizers of deliciousness!

I cooked the noodles, laid them out on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, and then layered on the minced garlic, basil, and mozzarella. Well...more like sprinkled, rather than layered. And then they were baked at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until
the cheese was melted.

The result? A cracker-like snack that got rave reviews from the housemates. Always a good sign, in my book. :)




Lazy Saturday Lasagna
It'll make you want to nom nom nom

1 (16 oz.) bag spinach, steamed
1 (16 oz.) container ricotta
2 tbsp. parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried basil
Sprinkling of pepper
1 (26 oz.) jar pasta sauce (Prego is delicious)
9 lasagna noodles, broken to fit into 8x8-inch pan
1 small can mushrooms
Any number of olives to your liking, sliced
As much or little mozzarella cheese you'd like

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together ricotta, parmesan, garlic, basil, and pepper. Stir in spinach until incorporated, and then mix in the egg.

Spray an 8x8-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Smear about 3 heaping spoonfuls of sauce onto bottom of pan, or until bottom is lightly covered. Lay down 3 noodles over sauce. Spread half of ricotta mixture over noodles. Top with half the can of mushrooms and half your olives. Sprinkle on the mozzarella, and cover with enough sauce until mozzarella is slightly covered, but still showing through. Repeat with 3 more noodles, and remaining ricotta, mushrooms, and olives. Sprinkle on the mozzarella, and spoon on sauce. Top with last 3 noodles, and spoon on about half the remaining sauce.

Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes. Spoon half the remaining sauce over lasagna to prevent burning. Bake for another 10 minutes. Spoon on remaining sauce and sprinkle lotsa cheese over the top. Kick up heat to 400 degrees. Bake lasagna for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and noodles are tender.

DISCLAIMER: You might need to cook the lasagna for a little longer...my noodles might not have been all the way cooked. I was planning to microwave individual portions before eating it, however, which would finish cooking-up the noodles.

Friday, January 9, 2009

recycled pudding pie

When life gives you crummy cake-like cookies...

Make a cookie-crust for a pudding pie. :) Yep...those cake-like cookies from the other day? The got ousted and were recycled into a cookie crust. Just add a stick of butter to about 1 1/2-2 cups of your favorite cookie crumbs, and press it all in a pie pan. Oh, and bake it all up for about 15 minutes in your preheated 375 degree oven.

Then cook up some pudding...I only had the vanilla make-it-on-the-stove variety. And pour it all in your baked pie crust. To spice things up a bit, I sprinkled some butterscotch chips into the pudding once it was all poured into the crust. Yum yum.

Oh...and say hi to Leah's cow tea kettle in the background. Mooooooooooo.

And ta-DA! The messy, yet delicious outcome. This probably should've set a bit more before I decided to slice up this puppy, but oh well. :) Still yummy, just the same.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

chocolate chip cookie bar quest

Oh. Hello, peanut butter frosting.

Hello, delicious Sander's hot fudge sauce.

Make that...seductive Sander's hot fudge sauce.

So today's quest was to make something delicious...aka the chocolate chip cookie bars I usually make. For some reason, however, these bars have been coming out extremely cake-like, instead of gooey and delicious. And I've been following the recipe to a tee...not skimping on butter or anything, and still these guys come out strange. Hmmm. I truly am stumped. I think next time I'll add baking powder instead of baking soda. Mayhaps this would fix the problem.

Oh, so you're probably wondering why there's Seductive Sander's hot fudge sauce in this chocolate chip cookie bar blog. Because I was out of chocolate chips, of course. And hot fudge sauce is great swirled into cookie batter.

Close up. But damn you, cookies, for being cake-like. But still delicious, just the same.

And even more delicious with a smothering of peanut butter frosting. No recipe, though, I'm not in the mood.

oatmeal scones

Baking oatmeal scones is the perfect break from grad school applications. Seriously, it is. You gotta trust me on this one. And sometimes, all you need is a culinary-outlet to get those juices flowin' again to write alllll those essays.

So what was the inspiration behind these scones? New cookbook (with great pictures, might I add) + leftover yogurt, that was lonely and needed a home. Thankfully, its home ended up being into these delicious scones, and, even more impressive, as a buttermilk substitute! Yes,
my friends, 1 cup yogurt can be substituted for 1 cup buttermilk, which can be substituted for 1 cup milk + 1 tbsp. lemon juice. Do we need that simplified? Yes, we do, for simplicity's sake:

1 cup yogurt = 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk + 1 tbsp. lemon juice

I love substitutions. I really do get a kick out of them. And I really don't know why. :)

So not to toot my own horn here or anything, but I have never had scones come out this good. I mean, on the (rare) occasion where I'd say, "Self, you really should make some scones today," they'd come out like rocks. Yummy rocks, but....on the hard-side. As any good rock should be. But anyways...these scones. I even messed up the recipe and forgot to cut in the butter before adding the yogurt and egg! And they still came out super fluffy and crumbly, as any good scone should.


Oatmeal Scones
Taken from Good Housekeeping: Great Baking

1 cup oatmeal
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. cold butter, cut up
2/3 cup buttermilk or yogurt or 2/3 cup milk + 2/3 tbsp. lemon juice :)
1 egg, separated
2 tsp. water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On 13x9-inch pan, toast oats 5-7 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool and place in separate bowl. Spray pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In large bowl, stir together flour, 2 tbsp. sugar, baking powder, salt, and oats. With pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

In small bowl, with fork, mix buttermilk and egg yolk. Make well in center of flour mixture, pour in buttermilk mixture, and stir until combined. Lightly knead in bowl until dough just holds together.

Transfer dough to prepared cookie sheet. Shape into 7 1/2-inch round. With floured knife, cut round into 8 wedges, but do not separate wedges. In small bowl, stir together egg white and water. Brush over top of round. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tbsp. sugar.

Bake 20-25 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center of round comes out clean. Separate scones and serve warm, or transfer to wire rack and cool.

They give the nutritional information for each scone...but let's not deal with that. ;) Seriously, though, these puppies aren't all that bad for you. Especially if you reduce the butter to 4 tbsp, which I did, and they were still delicious.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

bruschetta

So let's continue with the parody of the Great Panini Grill. This lovely contraption can also be used to toast bread...and create those trademark grill-marks. I did this with mini bread rounds, some buttered and some pesto-ed, and then topped the rounds with tomato slices, fresh sliced basil strings, and mozzarella. And then they were baked-up in the oven until warm and the mozzarella melted.

I wasn't able to get any pictures of the finished results due to the untimely occurrence of a battery outage of replacement camera a la madre. :( Sigh...I really must start searching for a new camera, I cannot go on like this, being camera-less.

Anyway, I brought these over for New Year's Day dinner at my grandparents house, and they were TOTALLY CONSUMED by the end of the night. SUCCESS. But anyway, I think for another time, I'd like to smear some minced garlic on the toasts before baking them, just to add a little more garlic boost to the flavor. You can never have too much garlic. :)

Oh, and Happy New Year, everyone!!! And I am proud to report that this is my 50th post on "patticake". How timely with the coming of the new year. :)