Monday, February 28, 2011

Marionberry Oatmeal Cookie Bars

One of my favorite memories from school was when my mom would add a special dessert to my lunch. Usually, my lunch consisted of a turkey sandwich, cucumbers, a banana, apple juice, and a chocolate chip cookie (and ALWAYS a little encouragement note, which really was the best part)... But, once or twice a week my mom would put in an extra special dessert. Cookies are usually my favorite dessert, but after a whole week of chocolate chip cookies, my heart would give a little leap when I opened up my lunch bag and found a surprise. And believe me, if I had opened my lunch to one of these oatmeal cookie bars, I would've been thrilled! Bar cookies are my fave; they are easy, come together quickly, and, in this case, require just one bowl and a wooden spoon. These bars are just the kind of thing my mom would've treated me with, crunchy oatmeal cookie crust covered by homemade marionberry jam, finished off with a crunchy oat topping. Perfect for slipping in a lunch box to brighten a dreary school day!

Marionberry Oatmeal Cookie Bars
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup butter, softened
1.5 cups marionberry jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one 9x13 inch pan, and line with buttered (or non-stick sprayed) parchment paper. Combine brown sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, and rolled oats. Rub in the butter using your hands or a pastry blender to form a crumbly mixture.
Press 2 cups of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. If the mixture is too dry, add a bit more butter.
Spread the jam to within 1/4 inch of the edge. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the top, and lightly press it into the jam.
Add a couple more dollops of jam to the top if you like.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes in preheated oven, or until lightly browned.
Allow to cool before cutting into bars.
What was your favorite school day snack? I would love to know!
PS Don't forget to vote in the poll on the side bar!

Friday, February 25, 2011

St. Patty's Day Mint Oreos

Ive been wanting to try homemade oreos for awhile, I used a chocolate cookie recipe from Joy of Baking (an amazing website by the way). The filling recipe I borrowed from Sister's Cafe. It is basically a cream cheese frosting to which I added mint extract and green coloring, in honor of St. Patty's day.
It was quite delicious, but not very oreo-esque. The actual oreo filling recipes all included shortening and that didn't sound too appetizing to me... thus the frosting filling. The cookies are super chocolaty and crisp up as they cool. Much better than the store bought oreo cookies, and not hard to make at all!

Homemade Oreos
1 cup (130 grams) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (50 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (sifted)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons (45 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons (45 grams) margarine (or Smart Balance)
2/3 cup (140 grams) packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (100 grams) white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large (30 grams) egg white

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and margarine until well blended. Add the sugars and vanilla extract and beat on high speed for about one minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the egg white. Add the flour mixture and beat just until incorporated.
Place the dough on your work surface and, using your hands, form the dough into a log shape that is about 9 inches (23 cm) long. Carefully wrap the dough in aluminum foil, parchment paper or wax paper and fold or twist the ends. Try not to flatten the log (easier said than done, some of my oreos were square). Refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Using a sharp knife, slice into 1/4 inch thick wafers. Place on the baking sheet spacing about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes or until the the cookies puff and the tops of the cookies have crackles (ripples). Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for about 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Can be stored in an airtight container, at room temperature, for about 10 days.

Cream Cheese Filling
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 block of cream cheese, room temp (8 oz)
3-4 cups - powdered sugar (depending on desired consistency)
1 - tsp mint extract
A few drops green food coloring
Cream butter and add cream cheese, add food coloring and mix well.
Add powdered sugar slowly until you reach your desired consistency.

Frost backs of cookies and smoosh together.
I used a pastry bag and tip, but a knife would do the trick.

I took lots and lots of pictures....
Happy Weekending!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Stromboli Sandwiches

Usually I'm not a big fan of Rachel Ray, many of her recipes have long lists of ingredients which I usually don't have. I also find her use of the phrases "Yum-O" and "EVOO" and cutesy recipe names (ahem... sammies...) a bit annoying. My sister, however, is a big fan. And, I must admit, this recipe was awesome. I had everything I needed on hand, it came together in 25 minutes (including the 15 minutes baking time), and it impressed my guests. So in this case, way to go Rachel Ray!

Stromboli Sandwiches
One 16-ounce loaf semolina bread
Spinach or other mixed greens (I used a 50/50 mix)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound chicken sausage or tofu crumbles
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
2 cups shredded provolone cheese
1 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese (3 generous handfuls)
8 thin slices mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 375°.
Cut off the top quarter of the bread lengthwise and scoop out the bottom piece.
In a medium skillet, heat oil t over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, crumbling with a spoon, until browned. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, if using.
Sprinkle bread shell with provolone cheese, add a layer of greens, then sausage mixture.
Finally, top with the parmigiano, mozzarella and bread lid.
Wrap the sandwich in foil and bake until the cheese is melted, 15 minutes.
Cut into thick slices to serve.
One more thing, I would love to know what kind of recipes you all want to see. If you could take a sec and vote in the poll in my side bar, I would be supremely grateful!
Thanks, can't wait to hear what you all think!

Happy Eating!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Leftover Candy Cookies

Valentines is over, but what to do with all the leftover candy? Why, bake it into some cookies of course! Even better, bake it into some oatmeal cookies, cause oatmeal's healthiness cancels out the candy's not quite so healthiness... or at least that's what I tell myself... I chopped up some Double Crisp Hearts and Cookies and Cream Hearts. The cookies baked up thin, with crispy edges and soft gooey centers. They are super easy to make, and the dough can be refrigerated or frozen for bake on demand cookies.

Chocolate Candy Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from Serious Eat's
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • About 10-12 chocolate candies

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Chop candy into smaller chunks. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture and oats and stir until blended.
Stir in candy.
Drop batter by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until edges are light brown, about 16 minutes. Cool on sheets 5 minutes.
Transfer to rack; cool completely.
Not a bad use for leftovers!
Have a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Nutella Toffee Banana Bread

There's nothing like the smell of banana bread baking to make me happy. I started craving it after going to Starbucks the other day and trying a piece of their bread. Ick. I was not a fan, it was a bit bland for my liking, and kind of stale (it was late afternoon though). So, home I went to bake my own. I found a recipe over on the recipe girl website that incorporates a swirl of Nutella, and I had some heath "bits o brickle" toffee chips lingering in my cupboard, so I threw those in too. I baked the bread in my mini loaf pan (inherited from my grandma), the bread came out perfect, except that I had never used the pan before and overfilled the loafs so they started creeping over the top of the pans, but no harm done, just a little uneven on top! Strong banana flavor, rich chocolate hazelnut swirl, and buttery crunchy toffee sprinkled throughout. Waaay better than Starbucks, and cheaper too!

Nutella Toffee Banana Bread
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana
1/3 cup low fat yogurt (choose your flavor, I tried maple, it was good! But plain would be delish too)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup Nutella (chocolate-hazelnut spread)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 8×4-inch loaf pan or 12 mini loaf pans with nonstick spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate large bowl, beat sugar and butter with an electric mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add banana, yogurt, toffee chips and vanilla; beat until blended.
Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until flour is incorporated (don’t over mix). Spoon Nutella into a medium dish and soften in the microwave for about 15 seconds. Add 1 cup of the banana bread batter to the Nutella and stir until blended well.
Spoon Nutella batter alternately with plain banana bread batter into the prepared pan (or pans if you have mini ones). Swirl batters together with a knife. If using mini loaf pans, bake for 30-35 minutes, if using a regular size pan, bake 60 to 70 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Check the oven about three fourths of the way through cooking time to check the top of the bread for browning. If it’s browning too quickly, cover lightly with foil for the remainder of the baking (I had to do this). Cool for at least 15 minutes in the pan, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
I wrapped the extras in parchment paper and tied with twine to give as presents.
Rich chocolaty swirl...
Hope you all have a beautiful Valentines Week!
Linking up at Tasty Tuesdays, and Rook #17

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Feta Rosemary Beer Bread

I baked up a loaf of this beer bread to go with a dinner of tomato basil bisque the oth
er night. It actually stole the show! I borrowed the recipe the wonderful Farmgirl Fare blog, a blog full of beautiful farm pictures and hearty recipes. Susan, the author, describes herself as
"a 42-year-old former cultured California chick happily turned manure mucking Missouri farm girl."
You should definitely check her blog out, you can find more of her beer bread ideas here. The bread I made is "Beyond Easy Beer Bread." And it really is ridiculously easy, not only that, but it baked up crusty and flavorful with a moist crumb studded with melty chunks of feta and flavorful bursts of rosemary. Oh, and the hearty beer flavor, fantastic! Perfect for dipping in a bowl of your favorite soup. Enjoy!

Easy Beer Bread
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder (make sure it's fresh!)
12 ounces beer
1 tablespoon dried rosemary or 2 tablespoons fresh (chopped)
3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Heat oven to 375°.
Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, rosemary, and feta in a large mixing bowl.
Slowly stir in beer and mix just until combined.
Batter will be thick. Spread in a greased 8 inch loaf pan, and bake until golden brown and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool 10 more minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature. With beer ☺