Monday, June 27, 2011

Apple Streusel Bars

First off, I don't like baked fruit. It's gross. Second, I LOVE these bars! They might become one of my favorite things to make! I think the key (for me) is to cut the apples really thin. I used an apple corer, and then cut the apple into 8ths. The crust is really my favorite part, and the whole thing is easy to put together, plus it uses ingredients I always have around! One thing I decided would be good for the next time around: cutting the glaze in half. The recipe calls for enough to almost completely cover the bars. I love the cinnamon-y apples and crust so much, I don't think there's a need for so much glaze. I also put a little less almond extract (about 3/4 tsp) at my husband's suggestion, and it still had plenty of flavor. Oh, and when mixing the apple filling, I threw everything in a gallon Ziploc and shook it up. Also, rather than putting the glaze in a bag and drizzling it- I just took heaping spoonfuls and drizzled it from the spoon. :)
Note: I made these a second time, and cut the glaze in half...I think just removing the almond extract would be good... I don't know, but I decided I like the glaze. Let me know what you think.
Another note: We just made these again, and my husband just sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on top- no glaze- (and we ate them warm with vanilla ice cream! So good!!!)

Sweet Pastry:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup butter, softened, no substitutions (JK- my husband used 3/4-1 cup butter-flavored Crisco, and it was SO much better than when I made it with butter!!!)
1 egg, beaten

Apple Filling:
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
4 cups (about 3 medium) sliced, peeled baking apples (Granny Smith or Gala work beautifully)

2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp almond extract
About 3 tablespoons milk (whole milk is best)

1. To prepare the crust, mix flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until you have pea-sized crumbles. Gently mix in beaten egg.
2. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Gently pat about 2/3 of the crumb mixture onto the bottom of the dish and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. To prepare apple filling, combine flour sugar, and cinnamon. Toss apples and spread apples on prepared crust. Sprinkle reserved crust mixture over apples evenly and bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. When finished, allow to cool completely.
4. To prepare glaze, whisk together powdered sugar, almond extract, and enough milk to achieve desired consistency. Transfer glaze to a zip-top bag and cut off a very small portion of one of the corners. Drizzle glaze over cooled pastry and allow to harden (you can place it in the freezer to hurry things along). Cut into bars and serve.
Makes 20-24 bars.

{Kudos to Our Best Bites cookbook!}

Chipotle Chocolate Chili

The author says that the chocolate in the chili "just adds richness and depth in a very short amount of cooking time," and I agree! This chili has a very unique flavor, and we all really enjoyed it. My husband LOVED it, despite the chocolate/vegetable combo!

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 pound lean ground turkey or beef (I used turkey)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 (15-oz) cans diced tomatoes (I don't like tomatoes, so I blended them before adding, and it worked great!)
2 (14.5-oz cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-oz) can beef broth
Chipotle sauce (from a 7 oz can of chipotle chilis) (I couldn't find this, so I just used a 7-oz can of chopped green chilies, and added some chilis and whatever juice I could get out of it)
2-3 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate (1/2 unsweetened baking cube), chopped. (optional: use to taste; be careful, because too much will make your chili bitter)
Chopped green onions, sour cream, or shredded sharp cheddar cheese, for garnish, optional.

1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Saute onion, garlic, bell pepper, and ground turkey or beef until meat is cooked through. Add salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, brown sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, tomatoes, beans, and beef broth. Add all of the chipotle sauce from a can of chipotle chilis. Heat to boiling and then reduce to a simmer (uncovered), stirring occasionally, until thickened as desired (about 30-40 minutes).
2. If desired, add some chopped chipotle chilis. Stir in vinegar. Add chopped chocolate a small amount at a time until desired richness is reached. If necessary, add more vinegar to cut the sweetness of the chili.
3. When thickened and seasoned as desired, serve with chopped onions or green onions, sour cream and cheddar cheese.

Kudos to: Our Best Bites cookbook!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

I thought this was a great twist for zucchini bread, and the top crust is really good! Even my husband, who thinks chocolate and vegetables shouldn't mix, loved this recipe, and definitely ate his share!

2 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream
3 cups shredded zucchini (about 3 smallish or 2 large zucchinis)
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 2 loaf pans and set aside. (This recipe will make 2 very full 8-inch pans or slightly less full 9-inch pans.)
2. Mix topping ingredients in a small bowl, and set aside.
3. Place flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder in a small bowl, and whisk to combine. Set aside.
4. With a stand or hand mixer beat oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and eggs until combined and slightly fluffy, 1-2 minutes.
5. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix until combined. Gently stir in the zucchini. Take a spoonful of the flour mixture and stir in with the chocolate chips (that will help keep them even distributed). If you only have regular chocolate chips or a chocolate bar, chop them. Stir remaining flour mixture into batter and mix just until combined. Add chocolate chips and stir to combine.
6. Divide the batter between two pans and sprinkle topping over each.
7. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Set your timer for 45 minutes and then keep an eye on the loaves for the remaining time. When they are done, a toothpick should come out without goopy batter on it, and the tops will be gorgeous and cracked with sugar. Remove from oven and let them cool on a rack for 5-10 minutes and then remove from pans.

The author says to eat a piece warm, slathered in butter... I'm not a butter person, so I didn't try it that way, and I preferred it cooled. :)

Kudos to: Our Best Bites cookbook- which is becoming one of my favorites!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Fruited Curry Turkey Salad

My mom made this recently, and I loved the different flavors and textures- they complement eachother nicely! She made it with chicken, but I can see how turkey would be good, too! The recipe says to serve it on top of salad greens, but I think the turkey mixture would also be good in a pita.

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash pepper
4 cups cubed cooked turkey (or chicken)
1/2 cup chopped apple
1/3 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted
1/3 cup dried cranberries
5 cups torn mixed salad greens

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients, except for the salad greens. Divide salad greens among 5 plates, and top with turkey mixture.

Kudos to Taste of Home Quick Cooking 2011 cookbook!

Honey Brie (or Havarti) Turkey Wrap

Spread 1 medium-size whole-wheat wrap with 2 tsp honey mustard. Layer with 2 oz honey maple turkey, 1 oz sliced Brie (or Havarti), and fresh baby spinach leaves.

Morning Monte Cristo

Top a frozen waffle with 3 slices honey-ham and 1 slice Swiss cheese and another waffle. Place in a toaster oven until cheese melts.
Optional: Drizzle ham and cheese with 1 tsp pancake syrup, then replace top waffle.

Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches

Delicious and easy- a really good option for Sunday dinner!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (2 1/2-3 lbs) beef roast
black pepper
2 (1 oz) packages dry onion soup mix
2 cups water
2 (14.5 oz) cans beef broth
1 (16 oz) package sliced Swiss cheese
Buns or rolls (harder is better than soft)

1. Heat olive oil in a large pot or skillet over medium-high heat. While oil is heating, sprinkle all sides of roast with salt and pepper.
2. When the oil is very hot, carefully place the roast in the pan and sear it on all sides. This shouldn't take more than a few minutes- you just want to quickly brown the roast to add flavor and seal in the juices.
3. Transfer the roast to your slow cooker. Sprinkle onion soup mix over the roast and add water and beef broth.
4. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 8-10 hours. You can also cook it on high until it begins to boil, then switch the heat setting to low; this is our preferred method because it seems to make the meat more tender.
5. When the meat shreds easily with a fork, shred the entire roast. Serve on sliced rolls with a slice of Swiss cheese. If desired, you can slide these under the broiler on your oven to toast the bun and melt the cheese. Serve with juices from the slow cooker as au jus for dipping.

Kudos to Our Best Bites cookbook!