Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Crescent Breakfast Roll-ups

Oh, one of my favorite food combinations - bacon, eggs, and cheese between bread. It's my ultimate breakfast. I have had a can of crescent rolls in the fridge for awhile now and wanted to use it up this morning. Usually I use crescent rolls to make pigs-in-a-blanket, but I didn't have any little smokies, and really I wanted something a bit more filling anyway. So why not roll up my ultimate breakfast inside the crescents? It was a great combo. Yummy bacon, eggs, and melty cheese wrapped up in a buttery crescent roll. The best part? I used reduced fat crescents and reduced fat cheese, so each roll only comes out to around 150 calories! So I totally had two. I'm sure you could reduce the fat even further if you used egg substitute instead of real eggs. I love my real eggs so I don't think I'll be bending on that one anytime soon, but I'm sure they would taste great with the substitute. This is a totally versatile recipe, you could use sausage insted of bacon, or any kind of cheese you like. I am also sure they would freeze ok, but I haven't tried that yet. Experiment and see what you like best!

Crescent Breakfast Roll-ups

1 can reduced-fat crescent rolls
3 large eggs, beaten
salt and pepper, to taste
5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded
dash paprika
dash cayenne pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a cookies sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
2.  In a skillet, add eggs, salt and pepper. Scramble until just underdone (they will finish cooking in the oven). Set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Open the can of crescents. Roll it out into a large recangle, with the long side facing you, and press all of the seams together. Once eggs have cooled, layer them evenly over the cresent roll dough. Then sprinkle the crumbled bacon and shredded cheese evenly over the eggs. Lightly sprinkle a few dashes of paprika and cayenne pepper over the top of everything.
3. Carefully roll everything up into a long cylinder and press the seams together when you get to the end. Slice into 8 even portions, and place seam side down on the greased baking sheet. (If you have any raw egg leftover, brush on top of the crescents.)  Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sloppy Joes

Okay, so I know everyone loves their Manwich, but these sloppy joes are way better than anything out of a can. Nice and tomatoe-y with just the right amount of spice. I used lean ground beef, but you could also use ground turkey if you're not into beef. This would be a great dish to double and freeze half for a busy weeknight. We had ours on hamburger buns, but you could serve these on any type of sandwich bread or buns if you're in a pinch. Skip the canned stuff and try this recipe, you will definitely be able to tell a difference!

Sloppy Joes
Adapted from: Nifty Foodie

1tbs butter
1tbs olive oil
1 medium onion , diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic , minced
1 pound lean ground beef
dash cayenne pepper
1 tbs steak seasoning
salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup water
1/4 tsp tabasco sauce
hamburger buns

1. Heat oil and butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, peppers and garlic and stir until coated with oil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion and peppers are soft, about 10 minutes. Remove vegetables from pan, and set aside.
2. To the pan add the beef, cayenne pepper, steak seasoning, and salt and pepper. Cook the beef over medium heat, breaking up meat with a spoon, until browned. Drain the meat to get rid of any excess grease and return to the pan. Return vegetables to the pan and mix with the meat. Before returning the pan to the heat, add brown sugar, tomato paste, ketchup, water, and tabasco. Return pan to heat. Simmer over medium heat until Sloppy Joe sauce is slightly thicker than ketchup, about 5-8 minutes. Adjust seasonings. Spoon meat mixture onto hamburger buns and serve.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

You will need to be careful with these. These shells are so delicious and perfectly bite-sized that you may have to physically stop yourself from eating them. Like I had to. This recipe from Joelen is super simple, albeit a little time consuming to fill all of the shells. It was completely worth the effort. I couldn't find the really jumbo pasta shells, so I used the biggest shells I could find, which are just the large shells - I think. I used about 2 cups of shells so whatever size shells you find, about 2 cups should do it. I did have a few leftover, but a few of them ripped so it all worked out. I served a green salad with ours to balance all the cheesiness...and to keep myself from eating the whole pan.

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells
Adapted from: Joelen

2 cups large pasta shells
water for boiling pasta
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
4oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese + 1/4 cup for topping
3 tbs prepared pesto
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

1. In a large pot over high heat, boil water and prepare pasta shells as directed on package. Cook pasta shells only until al dente. The pasta will finish cooking when the dish is baked. Drain the pasta shells and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients, except the 1/4 cup of cheese for the topping. Fill the pasta shells with the filling and place in a baking dish.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over filled shells. Sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake shells uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until shells are bubbling hot and cheese melts.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Banana Cake

Or maybe it's banana bread. I'm not really sure. The recipe I used called it banana cake but it's also kind of like banana bread. Call it what you will, it doesn't really matter, it's just good. Once again I was looking for something to do with my extra overripe bananas and decided that they should be made into some sort of yummy dessert. I found this great recipe at Fresh from the Oven. I didn't really change anything except using whole wheat flour, but once I started eating the cake I thought it might be good with some walnuts or pecans sprinkled in. So I might try that next time. Either way, this recipe is definitely a keeper.

Banana Cake
Adapted from: Fresh from the Oven

1/3 cup  unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mashed ripe banana
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup  plain yogurt
1 cup chocolate chips, optional (recommended because they're delicious)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly grease an 9x5 inch loaf pan, set aside. Sift together flour, baking powder and baking soda and set aside.
2. Put the butter, honey, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon in a mixer bowl, and beat with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the bananas and vanilla and beat on medium speed until the mixture looks lumpy.
3. Reduce the speed to medium low and beat in the egg until well incorporated. Turn the speed to low, and gradually add in the sifted flour mixture. Mix well, but don't overmix. Add in the yogurt, and mix until the batter has only a few remaining white streaks. Gently fold in the chocolate chips, if desired.
4. Transfer the batter into the greased pan and bake in the center of the oven for 40 minutes or until the tester inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then unmold and cool completely on rack.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cajun Chicken Pasta

Before our little munchkin came along, my husband and I used to go out to eat for nearly every meal. Yeah we were those people. I tried planning to cook, but we almost always ended up going out anyway. Now that I'm a stay-at-home mome, we are only able to go out a few times a month, so I've spent alot of time trying to recreate some of my favorite restaurant dishes in the kitchen. I found this recipe over at The Pioneer Woman, and it reminds of the Cajun Pasta from Red Lobster that I looove. It's not quite as creamy as the restaurant version, but it has a lot of spice and flavor. As with any homemade dish, you can control the ingredients to make it healthier, so I use low-fat heavy cream (when I can find it) and whole wheat pasta. If you haven't yet made the switch to whole wheat, pasta is a great place to start. The taste and texture are virtually the same, and it is much much more filling than regular pasta. You can adjust the spices to your liking, but be careful of your men in the kitchen...mine kept coming in and adding more spice to his liking. Needless to say, ours was super spicy.

Cajun Chicken Pasta
Adapted from: The Pioneer Woman

2 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts,cubed
3 teaspoons Cajun Spice Mix, More To Taste
1/2 box of whole wheat linguine
2 Tbs Olive Oil
2 Tbs Butter
1/2 Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 can Chicken Broth
½ cups White Wine
1 cup Heavy Cream
Cayenne Pepper To Taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
Salt To Taste

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain when pasta is still al dente, and set aside.
2. Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun spice over chicken pieces. Toss around to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add the chicken and cook until done. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean plate, leaving pan on high heat.
3. Add remaining olive oil and butter. When heated, add peppers, onions, and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, stirring gently and trying to get the vegetables as dark/black as possible. Remove all vegetables from the pan.
4. With the pan over high heat, pour in the wine and chicken broth. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in cream, stirring/whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes. Add vegetables back into the pan, and cook the sauce for 5-8 minutes until the cream starts to thicken the mixture. Add in chicken.
5. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and/or salt to taste. Sauce should be spicy! Add drained linguine and toss to combine. Let sit for 3-5 minutes before serving. Sauce will thicken upon standing.

Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Quick Cinnamon Rolls

I'm a breakfast person. I love it. I don't really do cereal and milk if I have time to make something better. Like cinnamon rolls. While I do love a nice yeast-raised cinnamon roll, these quick no-rise cinnamons rolls definitely hit the spot, and they didn't take all day to make. Also, with the addition of whole-wheat flour, you can feel a little less guilty about these guys. They did get a little bit messy because the dough is a kind of sticky, but the mess was totally worth it for a warm homemade cinnamon roll right out of the oven. Smeared with cream cheese frosting of course.

Quick Cinnamon Rolls
Slightly Adapted from: Handle the Heat

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
dash of salt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp sugar
1  tsp baking powder, heaping
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (or regular milk)
5 tbsp butter, melted and cooled, divided
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 oz light cream cheese
1 tbsp milk

1. Preheat oven to 425. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with aluminum foil and lightly grease.
2. Prepare the filling. Whisk together all filling ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
3.In a large bowl, or the bowl of an electric mixer, combine all purpose flour, whole what flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine. Add in buttermilk and 4 tablespoons of the melted butter and mix until dough starts to come together into a shaggy ball. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 1-2 minutes, until dough begins to look smooth and can be handled easily. This can also be done by kneading for about 1 minute with a paddle attachment or dough hook, and adding a tablespoon or two of flour to a mixer bowl.
4. Place dough on a floured surface and press or roll out into a 9×12-inch rectangle with the long side facing you. Take remaining tablespoon of melted butter and brush over dough rectangle. Sprinkle evenly with filling mixture, leaving a 1/2-inch border around each edge. Using a bench scraper to help you (or a large, flat spatula if you don’t have one), roll the dough up into a tight spiral. Pinch seam to seal.
5. Use a serrated knife to cut dough into 9 even pieces. (I seem to be challenged in this area, I got about 11...) Gently flatten each of the rolls before placing them in the prepared pan, to even them out if they were misshaped when sliced.
Cover pan with aluminum foil. Bake for 12 minutes covered, then uncover the rolls and bake for 14-18 minutes, until golden brown. Use the foil to life the rolls out of the baking pan and place them on a wire rack. Let cool for 5 minutes.
6. Prepare the glaze: In a medium bowl, whisk all glaze ingredients together with a hand mixer until very smooth. Drizzle over slightly cooled rolls and serve.

Store leftovers in an airtight container after they have completely cooled.

I am sharing this recipe in the sweet treat link party at "Sweet as Sugar Cookies"

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cocoa Peanut Butter Cookies

I have cookies for you! Peanut butter ones. With chocolate in them. Classic combo! These cookies are much lighter than your standard peanut butter cookie recipe. This recipe only has 1/2 a stick of butter for 2 1/2 dozen cookies. Despite the lack of butter, they are still soft and chewy. You may want to eat these with a nice cold glass of milk.You also may want to find someone to share these cookies with because this recipe makes a ton!

Cocoa Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from: Cooking Light

1/4 cup butter, room temp.
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 unsweetened cocoa
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar (for rolling)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl or stand mixer, cream together butter and peanut butter. Add sugars and cocoa and continue mixing. Add in water, vanilla, egg whites and egg. Continue mixing until well blended.
2. In separate bowl wisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add about a 1/2 cup at a time to the peanut butter mixter and stir with a spoon until everything is incorporated.
3. Spoon out about 2 tbs of dough and roll into a ball. Place in a small bowl with sugar and roll until coated. Place on the lined cookies sheet and press the cookie gently with a fork. Continue until cookie sheet is full. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. (May need to bake these cookies in 3 batches.) Remove from oven and let sit on cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes before moving to a wire rack for cooling. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 36 cookies.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ground Steak Taquitos & Salsa

I looove taquitos. When I first moved into my own place my first year of college, I was pretty poor like most college kids, and I practically lived off frozen boxed foods like pizza rolls and taquitos. These taquitos are reminiscent of the ones I used get way back when. However, these are baked so they are much healthier than their boxed counterpart. I used eye of round steak that I cooked and then ran through a food processor, but you could always use ground sirloin if you don't have a food processor or you just want to simplify the recipe a bit. I am also going to share with you my recipe for my husband's quick restaurant salsa. It goes great on everything! Tacos, breakfast burritos, fajitas, and taquitos of course. Go grab some corn tortillas and get to rolling!

Ground Steak Taquitos

1/2 pound eye of round steak
steak seasoning
1 onion, diced
1 9oz can hot bean dip
3 tbs sour cream
3 tbs salsa
1 1/2 cups mexican cheese blend, shredded
salt, to taste
yellow corn tortillas
cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and set aside. Spray a skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat.  Cut steak into 1-inch cubes and sprinkle with steak seasoning. Add diced onion and steak to skillet. Let them cook together until the steak is done and the onions have began to caramelize. Drain grease if needed. Add steak and onions to a food processor, and pulse it until steak and onions are ground into small pieces.Transfer steak and onion mixture to a medium bowl. Add remaining ingredients through the cheese, and mix well. Add salt if needed.
2. Place 3 tortillas at a time on a plate in between 2 paper towels, and heat for 20 seconds. Working quickly place 2 tbs of steak filling in the center of tortilla and roll tightly. Place seam side down on the sprayed cookie sheet. Repeat this process until all filling is used up. Lightly spray taquitos with cooking spray.
5. Place in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until edges are crispy and starting to brown. Let cool a few minutes before serving. Serve warm with sour cream and salsa.

Quick Restaurant Salsa

1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 can Rotel original, drained
4 cloves garlic (2 tbs), finely diced
1 small can diced jalapenos, drained *
1 red onion, diced
2 tbs cilantro
salt, to taste

1. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until pureed. Chill 2 hours before serving.
*The can of jalapenos adds a lot of spice. Leave this out if you do not like spicy food.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Whole Wheat Pita Bread

We ordered pizza for dinner last night, mostly because I didn't really feel like cooking and neither of us felt like going anywhere. We don't have pizza delivered very often because its pretty unhealthy and expensive, but every now and then it's really nice to sit at home on your couch while someone else brings you your dinner. So, needless to say, I thought it would be a good idea to have something light for dinner tonight, to balance out all of the empty carbs and cheese from yesterday. I made this pita bread recipe from Pure&Yummy. It was pretty simple to make and it turn out really soft! Much better than the store-bought variety. We filled ours with grilled chicken, sauteed onions, homemade salsa, and some fresh lettuce. I also sprinkled a little cheese on mine....I can't help it, cheese makes everything tastier! The bread is so delicious, so you can fill it with pretty much anything. Or you can eat it by itself...dipped in salsa...like me. Let me know what you filled yours with, I would love some new ideas!

Whole Wheat Pita Bread
From: Pure and Yummy

2¼ tsp. instant yeast
1 tbsp. honey
1¼ cups warm water, divided
1½ cups bread flour, divided
1½ cups whole wheat flour, divided
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt
Cornmeal, for sprinkling

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast, honey and ½ cup of the water.  Stir gently to blend.  Whisk ¼ cup of the bread flour and ¼ cup of the whole wheat flour into the yeast mixture until smooth.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in bulk and bubbly, about 45 minutes.

2. Remove the plastic wrap and return the bowl to the mixer stand, fitted with the dough hook.  Add in the remaining ¾ cup of warm water, 1¼ cups bread flour, 1¼ cups whole wheat flour, olive oil and salt.  Knead on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.  Transfer the ball of dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat, and let rise in a warm draft-free place, about 1 hour, until doubled in bulk.

3. Place an oven rack in the middle position.  Place a baking stone in the oven (if using) and preheat to 500˚ F. Once the dough has risen, transfer to a lightly floured work surface, punch down the dough and divide into 8 equal pieces.  Form each piece into a ball.  Flatten one ball at a time into a disk, then stretch out into a 6½-7 inch circle.  Transfer the rounds to a baking sheet or other work surface lightly sprinkled with cornmeal.  Once all the rounds have been shaped, loosely cover with clean kitchen towels.  Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, until slightly puffy.

4. Transfer 4 pitas, 1 at a time, onto the baking surface. (I place mine right on the oven rack.) Bake 2 minutes, until puffed and pale golden.  Gently flip the pitas over using tongs and bake 1 minute more.  Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.  Repeat with the remaining pitas.  Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Banana Chocolate-Chip Pancakes

We are really bad about eating our bananas around here. Usually, the only reason they get eaten at all is because I make the baby eat them. But he's a little person and can only eat so much. (But it is amazing the amount of food he can put away!) Inevitably, we always have at least one or two overripe bananas hanging around, and this morning was no exception. So what a better way to eat our overripe bananas than in some Banana Chocolate-Chip Pancakes! I used half-white and half-wheat flour but you can use any combo you like. These were fluffy and sweet, and filled me right up. The husband thought the chocolate-chips were a bit much, so you can leave them out if you like, but I thought they were just right. Happy pancake making!

Banana Chocolate-Chip Pancakes
Adapted from: Chocolate and Tea

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder, heaping
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, egg, butter, and mashes bananas. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the banana mixture. Mix until combined. Batter will be lumpy.
2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan on medium-high heat. Scoop 1/4 cup of batter onto the pan and brown both sides of the pancake. Serve hot, with syrup!
Makes about 12 small pancakes.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

I used to be a boxed meal eater. You know, Hamburger Helper, flavored rice, mac and cheese, and Tony Sacheres Jambalaya mix. I loved that jambalaya mix. I'm sure I still would if I was still a box eater. But I'm not.
You see, my husband and I have made a commitment to eat as few packaged/processed foods as possible. Not only do they have overly processed ingredients and preservatives, the packaging only adds to the enviromental problems in the world today. (I do have my vices, but I do my best!) If you are interested in learning more about packaged foods, I encourage you to view the documentaries Food, Inc. and Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.
So given the fact that we have made this commitment, I can't exactly have my beloved jambalaya mix anymore. But no worries, it's super easy to make at home! It took me awhile to find a recipe that was close to my favorite box mix. I found this recipe over at Foodie Bride, and it was just what I was looking for. Spicy and flavorful, and no tomatoe sauce. Please don't put tomatoe sauce in your jambalaya, it totally ruins the magic. Enjoy!

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
Adapted from: Foodie Bride

1 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
1 medium onions, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 tsp cayenne
1/2 lb smoked sausage, sliced
Tony Cachere’s, to taste
2 chicken breasts, cubed
2 bay leaves
2 cups rice
2 cups water
2 cups chicken stock
1 bunch green onions, chopped

1. Heat the butter and oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, salt and cayenne. Stirring often, brown the vegetables for about 15 minutes, or until they are caramelized and dark brown in color. Scrape the bottom and sides to loosen any browned particles. Add the sausage and cook, stirring often for 10 to 15 minutes, scraping the bottom and sides to loosen any browned particles.
2. Season the chicken with Tony Cachere’s. Add the chicken and the bay leaves to the pot. Brown the chicken for 8 to 10 minutes, scrapping the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned particles.
3. Add the rice and stir for 2 to 3 minutes to coat it evenly. Add the water and stock, stir to combine, and cover. Cook over medium heat for 30 to 35 minutes, without stirring, or until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Remove the pot from the heat and let stand, covered for 2 to 3 minutes. Add more Tony Sachere's to taste. Remove the bay leaves. Stir in the green onions and serve.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Swiss Oatmeal

I’m not really an oatmeal person. I do eat it every now and again, you know, for my health and all. Ok, well, to be honest, I haven’t actually had any in awhile. Of course, it is basically swimsuit season, and those eggs and bacon I love so much aren’t really doing me any favors. So enter, the Swiss Oatmeal. What’s different about Swiss Oatmeal? Well, it’s served cold. It is also loaded with yogurt, sweet raisins, and tart apples. It only takes about 15 minutes to prepare the night before, and then you just pop it in the fridge to chill over night. Come morning, breakfast is already done. Go ahead and hit the snooze button and get that extra 10 minutes. I know I would!

Swiss Oatmeal

1 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
2 cup water
1 cup milk
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
3 tbs brown sugar
dash of cinnamon
splash of cold milk
handful raisins, or dried cranberries
granny-smith apple, diced
handful slice almonds, optional

1. In a microwave safe bowl, mix together oats, water, and milk. Cook in the microwave 3-5 minutes, depending on how soft you like your oats. Once cooked, remove excess liquid by putting oats in a mesh strainer. Return to bowl.
2. Add to bowl Greek yogurt, brown sugar, and just a dash or two of cinnamon. Mix together. Add just a splash of cold milk and mix well.
3. Fold in raisins, diced apple, and almonds if using. Cover the bowl and place in refrigerator. Chill for at least 8 hours or overnight. Serve cold.

Serves 4.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Red Velvet Cream Cheese Cookies

I think I may have died and gone to cookie heaven. I took a recipe for red velvet cake-mix cookies, and stuffed them with a sweet cream cheese filling, and created melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. I have seen a couple of stuffed red velvet cookie recipes floating around, but they seem much more cake-like than these. No, these cookies, are soft and chewy and the filling is smooth and creamy. They do take a bit of time to put together, but it is oh so worth it. Your diet will be in danger. You have been warned.

Red Velvet Cream Cheese Cookies
Adapted from: How Sweet it is and Baking Bites

2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 box Red Velvet cake mix

Cream Cheese Filling:
6-oz cream cheese
2-oz white chocolate chips
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and oil. Add in the cake mix, and stir until combined. ( Dough should have a thick, almost paste-like texture.) Turn dough out onto a sheet of wax paper and roll in a log about 2 inches wide. Place into the freezer for 30-45 minutes.
2. Prepare cream cheese filling. Place white chocolate chips in a zip top bag and place the bag in cup of hot water to melt the chocolate. Place cream cheese in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. To the cream cheese add sugar and vanilla. Add in the melted white chocolate and mix well. Place mixture in the freezer with the cookie dough.
3. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 degrees. (I would recommend wearing plastic gloves for this next step.) Remove cookie dough and cream cheese mixture from freezer. Cut the cookie dough log in half and return one half to the freezer. (You will have to bake these in 2 batches) Unwrap the dough and cut off about one inch and flatten down into a large circle. Spoon 1/2 TBS of cream cheese mixture into the center of the dough. Carefully wrap the dough around the cream cheese and place seam side down on cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Let cool on the pan for 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack. While the first batch is cooling repeat what you just did with the second batch in the freezer. Enjoy with a large glass of milk!

Makes 16 cookies. For best quality, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Garlic Bread Knots

I've been looking for a really good breadstick recipe for a while. I have tried a few and none of the others have really blown me away until this one. Or maybe my bread making is just getting better. Either way, I now have my "keeper" breadstick recipe. I actually tied these in knots for more of a garlic roll, but it would do fine rolled out into sticks as well. We had them with lasagna, but they would be delicious dipped in Italian Sausage Soup. You could also leave out putting the garlic butter on top and just have them plain. Have them with anything, just make them soon!

Garlic Bread Knots
Adapted from: Food.com and Annie's Eats

2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 cup warm water
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
2 1/2 - 3 cups bread flour

Garlic Glaze:
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp. melted butter
½ tsp. Italian seasoning

1. In a bowl mix together the yeast, warm water, and brown sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes. Add salt and olive oil and mix together. Add in flour a 1/2 cup at a time until a dough forms.
2. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes until the dough is smooth and pliable. Placed dough in a lightly oiled bowl and turn once to coat. Cover with a clean towel and place in a warm, draft free place, such as the microwave. Let rise for one hour or until dough has doubled in size. (Dough has doubled when you press into the center and the dough does not spring back.) Punch down and let rise another 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Punch down dough and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead a few times until dough is pliable. Cut the dough into even portions. Roll out into breadsticks or tie into knots. Place on greased baking sheet and cover with a clean towel. Let dough rest for 15 minutes. While dough is resting mix together garlic glaze. Once dough has rested, brush on the garlic glaze. Bake for 20 minutes, or until tops are golden brown.