Wednesday, November 25, 2009

turkey day deliciousness: part 2

From the moment I laid my eyes on these beauties, I knew I would need them in my life at some point. Think....no-bake cookie. Think....fudge. Okay, how about....fudge-like no-bake cookies?! Heck yesssss. Can you drip me this intravenously, please? Mmk, thanks.

It's the bottom layer of these Nanaimo Bars that are no-bake cookie-esque. And, God, are they GOOD OR WHAT. WOW.

Supposedly Nanaimo Bars are all over the place in Canada, eh? Their namesake is the city of Nanaimo, British Colombia, and they find their way into donut and coffee shops. Personally, I think these things need to infiltrate their way into Starbuck's and Espresso Royales across southeastern Michigan, and fast!

The second layer is a mixture of butter, vanilla pudding powder mix (yeah...weird, right?), heavy whipping cream, and powdered sugar. Yum yum yum.

And then layered on top? Melted semi-sweet chocolate. I had issues spreading this evenly over the white topping, so that means that I'll just need to use more chocolate the next time I make these. Never a bad thing.

And the most disappointing thing ever? I take this picture, a terribly fuzzy picture. I cut the perfect square of Nanaimo. I point the camera, I shoot....and the battery dies. FAIL. And my charger is sitting, stuffed in my desk drawer up at school. Lovely, just lovely.

Well, that is just an excuse to make these again, now isn't it? :)

turkey day deliciouness: part 1

The day after Thanksgiving, a bunch of friends and I are getting together for a Turkey Day celebration of our own. I am so excited beyond words to see my two out-of-state girlfriends!! It will definitely be a good time.

I decided to make these Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars along with sweet potatoes for Friday's event. The sweet potatoes are a really good recipe from my Great-Aunt Jane - we've been using her recipe for years now. If you're lucky, maybe there'll be a post about those in the very near future.

Happy Thanksgiving! Gobble, gobble. :)

Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars
Altered from Spiced Apple Caramel Bars

Base and Topping
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups oatmeal
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup coconut, shredded
1 1/2 sticks butter
Chocolate chips

Caramel-y Sauce
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare base and topping: mix dry ingredients together, except chocolate chips. Cut butter into
the mixture until you have a coarse, mealy texture. Pat two thirds of this into an 8x8-inch square baking pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

In saucepan, stir together cinnamon, sugar, and water. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Simmer about five minutes. Stir to prevent burning. Stir in vanilla, and pour and spread evenly over base. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over caramel layer, as desired. Crumble remaining mixture over chocolate chips.

Bake for about 20-30 minutes. Devour.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

are you ready for your close-up?

Mmmm, look at that beauty.

SUPER thick honey whole wheat bread, grilled + sliced bananas + creamy peanut butter = heaven.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

HAPPY ONE-HUNDREDTH POST!

Wahooo....this is my one-hundredth post! :) And it's about a stuffed acorn squash. Hmmmm. Too bad it couldn't be about some crazy-decadent cake or something. Oh well.

Anyway, Wednesday was a rough day. Four classes, back to back, 8am-3pm with a two-hour exam from 1-3. Niiiiice. Welcome to grad school. So, of course, I couldn't come home and study after a day like that....even though there was plenty of work to do. Instead, I
proceeded to go on a four hour baking and cooking spree. And was it a good time or what. The bag of apples in the fridge morphed into apple crisp and three mini-loaves of apple bread, and my zucchini and acorn squash turned into that lovely thing pictured above.

I did not plan on making stuffed acorn squash, and I had already begun to roast the zucchini and squash separately in the oven. It was then, my friends, that I had an epiphany. There was barley in the cupboard and a roll of ground Italian "sausage" in the fridge. Sooo, why not mix the barley,
cooked sausage, and zucchini together and stuff them squashes? It was a brilliantly delicious idea.

And this is totally unrelated, but my roommate I just finished up a food science lab: biscuits and chocolate cake:



And, of course, I decided that the chocolate cake needed to be amp-ed up with a smothering of peanut butter and chocolate chips. Mmmm, yay for carbs.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

week of the sandwiches

This is the BEST bread in the entire, entire world. Seriously, people. Go to your local Great Harvest, ask for a loaf of Honey Whole Wheat, pay them the $5, and then run home and make yourself a sandwich. Quick. Do it. NOW!

It might also be the fact that Great Harvest is a little nostalgic for me. Back in the high school days (ahhh....that was nearly FIVE years ago!) my cross country team would make "GHB runs" after practice. This meant that whomever drove us to practice that day would dump off the car-load of girls (ohh, high school memories of packing eight people into a compact....) in front of Great Harvest Bread Co. We would proceed to run into the store, snatch a free sample of fresh bread (and one for the driver, of course), race back outside, into the car, and speed off back to the high school where our coach was waiting for us to do our push-ups and sit-ups. And he had no clue about our GHB runs......yeah, right. ;)

So this week's dinners have been 100% sandwiches made on GHB honey whole wheat. Last night's had olive tapenade, roasted broccoli, and mozzarella. Tonight's? Sliced acorn squash, roasted broccoli, and mozzarella. Doused with spray butter, of course. Only the best. :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

roasting par-tay!

Once again, I have surprised myself....I am cooking real food. And I haven't even finished a full box of cereal yet this year. This time last year, I had probably been through 3-4 boxes already. Seriously, people, I really don't know what is happening to me.

Another thing: I have given up trying to get myself to prepare chicken and other meats for myself. Granted, I am definitely not a vegetarian, nor will I ever be, for that matter. I am simply a lazy person who doesn't feel like dealing with something that grosses me out for the time being: raw meat.

Ew. I don't like it. I like eating it. Cooked, of course. In time, I will have to get over this because when I'm a real person, have a family, etc. I don't want make them eat beans and veggies and barley all the time. But for now, I could eat the same meatless thing every day and couldn't care less. And a dose of something meaty once or twice a week? Sounds good to me. I'm still having dreams of the amazing, beer and onion boiled, cheese-filled brats the boyfriend made for a tailgate a few weeks ago. Damn. That thing was good.

But alas, here we are with lentils. And they are so so good for you! They've got about 8 grams of protein and about the same amount of fiber per serving. All that fiber ought to clean ya out real good, huh? Sounds delicious to me. :)

But how to make them?! I had no clue. My grandpa is King of Bean Soups, and he makes a mean lentil soup. I had definitely eaten them before, but it had never crossed my mind how to actually cook them. So I whipped open Cooking Bible a la Mark Bittman, looked up 'lentils' in the index, and got busy cooking.

One thing I am learning about cooking is that it's pretttty hard to mess up. I guess it's a good thing that I've already mastered baking, as it is harder than cooking, so they say. For instance, if you don't have a certain spice on hand....no worries! Substitute something
else instead! However, if you're lacking baking soda, well, your cake is just gonna flop then, isn't it?

The lentil recipe called for curry...but I didn't have any. Instead, I decided to use a combination of spices that I thought were delicious in last month's Black Bean Vegetable Soup - cumin and chili powder. So into the pot went 2 tsp. of cumin and 1 tsp. chili p
owder instead of the 1 tbsp. curry (1 tbsp. = 3 tsp, by the way ;) They came out really good, but for next time, I think I would use 2 tsp. chili powder and 1 tsp. cumin to amp up the spice factor.

So what can we eat lentils with when they're not in soup-form? Roasted veggies!

Ahhhh, what happened to my hand??!?? Yes, I like playing with the fingerling potatoes. And food in general. Sigh....I suppose I'll never grow up. :)

Say hello to the cute little acorn squash I bought at the farmers market this Saturday. I sliced it up and put it in a pan with some olive oil drizzled over it and with sprinkles of sea salt and pepper.

In another pan went the sliced fingerling potatoes and broccoli, along with olive oil, parsley, basil, oregano, and sea salt. Then, both pans went into an oven preheated at 450 degrees, and I checked on them periodically, occasionally flipping the potatoes and broccoli to make sure they didn't burn.

And why use sea salt? You need less of it to get that salty flavor. And it's just delicious. I really should get my own. Sometimes I borrow Janine's sea salt. Okay, a lot of them time I borrow Janine's sea salt. Sorry, Janine. ;)

Also, I had another a-ha moment....acorn squashes have seeds!!! Here is another food that I definitely had eaten before, but didn't realize something about them. Hmmm, guess they're more pumpkin-y than I thought.

Anyway, today for lunch I ate the lentils and roasted veggies together, and it was really good. I'll definitely be making these two things again.

Split Pea, Mung Beans, or Lentils with Curry
Altered from Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything"

1 1/2 cups split peas, or mung beans, or lentils, washed and picked over
4 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stop, or water, plus more if needed
Salt and black pepper to taste
3 tbsp. curry - I used 2 tsp. cumin and 1 tsp. chili powder instead

Combine the beans, liquid, curry, salt, and pepper in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn the heat to medium-low, cover partially, and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the beans are soft and beginning to turn to mush, at least 30 minutes. Add additional liquid if necessary. The mixture should be moist but not soupy.

I'm-sick-of-studying-and-it's-only-november bars

Sometimes only crumble and a cookie will solve life's problems. Often when I am craving something, I'll just hone in on what exactly I'm craving (in this case, crumble and bar cookies), survey what is in the kitchen cabinets (M&Ms), and bake something from that. VOILA! M&M crumble bars! Let their buttery goodness take you away....at least for a moment.

I'm-Sick-Of-Studying-And-It's-Only-November Crumble Bars

1 stick butter, softened
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar

1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

M&Ms....as many as you want.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In bowl, prepare crumble: mix together butter, oatmeal, flour, brown, and white sugars. Set aside.

Prepare cookies: mix together dry ingredients - flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together butter, brown, and white sugars until combined. Mix in egg and vanilla. Gradually add dry mixture to wet mixture, and mix until combined.

Spray a 13x9-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour batter into bottom of pan and smooth it out. Crumble crumble mixture evenly over the top. Top with M&Ms.

Bake in preheated oven for 20-ish minutes until brown around the edges. Devour.