September 17, 2014

Sesame Roasted Chickpeas



I don't know if you're like me, but about once a month or so I crave Chinese food.  Sadly, Chinese food isn't on my diet.  Happily, you can make a sesame flavored chickpea in your own house and get all the flavor you crave without taking a nosedive off the diet train.

Another benefit to roasted chickpeas is that you can take them with you for a snack during the day.  It's hard to do that with sesame noodles. People in line at the post office line might not understand if you whipped out your Chinese food and set up a picnic while waiting in line for stamps.

An easier option (and healthier) is these roasted chickpeas.  There are so many different flavor options available, just search the Internet to find some.  Pinterest gave me this one.  I love Pinterest.

You bake the chickpeas until they are dry and crisp.  Then you flavor them right out of the oven and you have a delicious little snack you can take anywhere. I love these things and can't wait to try some new flavors.

Sesame Roasted Chickpeas


Ingredients
  • 2 cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained, rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375º
  2. Rinse the chickpeas and place on a towel to dry.
  3. Put in a single layer on a cookie sheet, bake for 45-60 minutes. Test one at 45 minutes, if it's still slightly soft in the middle, keep cooking. You want them crunchy.
  4. While baking, combine the remaining ingredients .
  5. When the chickpeas have come out of the oven, immediately toss in the oil mixture and serve warm or at room temperature.
  6. Best if served that same day but can be kept up to 4 days in an airtight container.

September 15, 2014

Kids Favorite Brownies



Monday again. Can you believe it?

Guess what?

I'm either going to really help your week, or destroy it.

Brownies, it's what's for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Well, it SHOULD be.

Even though I'm on a diet and I can't exactly eat these, I did take a bite (for research purposes only, of course) just to make sure that I could write about this brownie with some first hand knowledge.  I mean, what kind of food blogger would I be if I didn't taste everything I made? Right?

So here it goes: Totally, completely, unequivocally DELICIOUS! I wish I'd made these prior to my diet because they are the perfect brownie for my tastes.  I don't like a lot of nuts in brownies and I love frosting on top.  The texture was perfection.  Not caky at all, just chewy and moist.  The frosting did just what it was supposed to do, sort of melt into the top layer.  The sweetness from the frosting was a perfect addition. I also liked that they make a 9x13 in dish, that way they aren't super thick but not thin either.  Why do some recipes only make an 8x8? That's only like 9 brownies!  Of course that would have made my resisting them much easier.

I made these for my daughter and some of her friends and the babysitter one night while I was going to be out. Considering that there weren't a whole lot of them left upon my return I'm going to assume they were a hit.  I also wrapped up the leftovers and sent them to a friends house to ensure I wouldn't eat them.

This is the perfect brownie for me!  I just love them!  Thanks "Cookies and Cups" for the recipe!!

Kids Favorite Brownies
Recipe from Cookies and Cups


Ingredients for Brownies
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
Ingredients for Frosting
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. Line a 9x13 inch dish with tin foil and spray with non-stick spray.
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the melted butter and cocoa powder and mix until smooth and no lumps.
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix.
  5. Add the sugar and mix, then incorporate the flour. When smooth, pour into the prepared dish and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the middle is set (use a toothpick, when it comes out clean it's done).
  6. While the brownies are baking, make the frosting.
  7. Wash the bowl you were using for your stand mixer. Add the butter and cocoa powder and blend until smooth. Add the milk and confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.
  8. Remove the brownies from the oven and let cool for about 15 minutes.
  9. Frost the brownies while they are still warm, the frosting will melt a little and that's just what you want. Let sit until cool. Cut and serve.

September 10, 2014

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars


Hump Day!  I never say that but It felt right today.  It's been a hectic week.  Well, we're almost done with it now.  Closer to Friday.  Yay!

My mornings can be a little hectic, how about yours?

This recipe was another attempt to make my morning less stressful.  I think I succeeded. These bars are fantastic.  Easy to throw together and so delicious. Use any flavor preserves you want!  The crumb top and bottom is so tender, with a nice texture from the oatmeal.  The sweetness of the filling is the perfect compliment.

I can see this as being one of my summer picnic foods too.  Nothing here that will melt away in the hot weather.  They are sturdy when kept cold so they'd pack nicely in a lunch box or as a snack. Plus you get the added benefit of the healthy oatmeal.

My husband couldn't get enough of these. Healthier than the store bought fruit bars and simple to make.

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars
Recipe from The Pioneer Woman


Ingredients
  • 1 3/4 stick butter, cold cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups oatmeal, quick or old fashioned
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 jar (10 - 12 oz) strawberry preserves
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º and butter a 9x13 inch dish.
  2. Stir together the flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, baking power and salt.  Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter or two forks. 
  3. Pour half the mixture into the prepared dish, pressing down slightly to pack it. 
  4. Smear the preserves over the top and spread out evenly. 
  5. Top with the other half of the mixture and press lightly. 
  6. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on top. 
  7. Cool completely before serving. 

September 8, 2014

Homemade Marshmallows




Happy Monday!  I hope you all had an excellent weekend.  Our weekend was full of sports and parties.  Can't beat it in my opinion. 
Also, the weather is cooling down a little so I'm super excited about that. 
In honor of cooler weather, I made marshmallows for S'mores.  I brought them to a house party and was happy that the kids loved them.  Many of whom had never had a homemade marshmallow.  I was surprised at how many people wanted to know how they are made, so I took a lot of pictures to show you how easy it is. Marshmallows were the first food I made in high school Home Economics class. 



Cook the sugar syrup on medium until the sugar dissolves, then up the temp to medium high or high until the temperature reaches 240º. Remove from the heat. 

First things first, put the gelatin and water in the mixing bowl and let sit while you prepare the sugar syrup. (see below for ingredients and instructions). Next you pour the hot sugar syrup into the gelatin mixture with the mixer on low (whisk attachment). 


Slowly increase the speed of the mixer to high, let whip for about 15 minutes or until the mixture is white, fluffy and thick.  Add the vanilla and mix in. 


 Prepare your dish, then pour the mixture in and smooth out the top. Sprinkle with more confectioner's sugar and let sit uncovered overnight.


When dry, cut into squares and roll around in more confectioners' sugar so they aren't sticky.  My advice would be to cut them a little smaller than you might think.  They are thick and puff and melt a lot when toasted so bigger squares get really messy.

Another good thing to remember if your kids are toasting over a fire, they melt quicker then store bought so toasting them for a long period of time will just make the marshmallow fall off your stick.  I'd toast both large sides and call it good. They'll be melty inside, trust me. If you cut them a little smaller then I did you might have better luck getting the sides toasted too. 

There is nothing better then fresh marshmallows for your s'mores this fall. Even people who don't usually like marshmallows, like these. Enjoy!

Homemade Marshmallows
Recipe by Ina Garten


Ingredients
  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • confectioners' sugar for dusting
Cooking Directions
  1. Add the unflavored gelatin to the bowl of your stand mixer and pour 1/2 cup cold water on top. Set aside.
  2. In a large heavy bottomed saucepan add the sugar, corn syrup and salt. Turn on medium heat until the sugar dissolves, then turn the heat to high and let the temperature come up to 240 degrees. Remove from the heat.
  3. Pour the hot syrup into the mixing bowl with the gelatin, slowly mix with the mixer on low and gradually increase the speed to high. Mix for about 15 minutes or until very thick and white. Add the vanilla and mix well.
  4. Use a sieve to generously coat a 9x13 or 8x11 inch dish with confectioners' sugar.
  5. Pour the marshmallow cream into the prepared dish and smooth out the top. Coat the top of the marshmallows with more confectioners' sugar.
  6. Let sit overnight, uncovered until it drys out.
  7. Use a knife to run along the edges of the dish to loosen the marshmallows, then turn upside-down to release them from the dish. If they stick a little, just use your hands to pull them out after cutting the size you want.  They'll stretch and pull out just fine. 
  8. Cut them into squares and coat with more confectioners' sugar so they aren't sticky. 

September 4, 2014

Cucumber Salad


I'm so looking forward to the weekend.  I'm just sayin', things have been tough this week.

I want it to be fall. Yet it's still like 90º here. Ugh.

OK, enough complaining.  Recently we had our Labor Day party in our neighborhood and I was too hot and tired to actually bake anything.  So I threw this together and brought it.  This was easy, and heat friendly.  Nothing in here will melt or go bad from the hot weather, making it a perfect picnic food!

I found that it was even better the next day.  The vinegar really has a chance to soak in and get better and better.  Very healthy and "diet friendly", definitely one to remember.

Cucumber Salad
Recipe modified slightly from Betty Crocker


Ingredients
  • 2 medium cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/3 cup cider or white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • chopped fresh dill or parsley (optional)
Cooking Directions
  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. Refrigerate and stir or shake periodically.
  2. Keep refrigerated for at least 3 hours, overnight is best.

September 2, 2014

Lemon-Berry Icebox Cake



I've been meaning to try this icebox cake for months and I finally got around to it.  I love the combination of lemon and berries so for me, this was perfect.  Not to mention, you don't even have to turn on your oven!

The texture is very light with creaminess between the cookies.  The cookies soften and turn more cake-like between the layers. The lemon flavored cookies are fantastic and really give the cake a nice little touch of flavor.  You can use fresh or frozen berries but I think fresh make it much more flavorful.

An excellent dessert for a hot summer day.

Lemon-Berry Icebox Cake


Ingredients
  • 3 cups chopped strawberries (about 1 pound)
  • 4 cups mixed berries (about three 1/2 pint containers)
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • finely grated lemon zest and juice of two lemons
  • 1 - 8 ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups cold heavy cream
  • 2 - 6 ounce packages lemon cookies
Cooking Directions
  1. In a large bowl, mix 1 cup each of the strawberries and mixed berries with 1 Tbsp sugar and the juice of 1/2 lemon. Set aside for about 30 minutes. 
  2. Puree 1 cup of mixed berries in a blender until smooth. Refrigerate the remaining berries and strawberries for decorating the top. 
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, vanilla and the zest of both lemons and the juice of 1 lemon on medium high speed. Mix for about 4 minutes. 
  4. Add the heavy cream into the cream cheese mixture and blend until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. 
  5. Fold 1/2 the whipped cream mixture into the berry puree. 
  6. Line a 9x5 inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving overhang on all sides. 
  7. Put a single layer of cookies on the bottom of the loaf pan. 
  8. Cover the cookies with 1 cup of the whipped berry cream mixture. 
  9. Cover the whipped berry cream mixture with half of the berries that have been soaking in the sugar/lemon juice. 
  10. Add 1 cup of whipped berry cream mixture to the top of the berries. 
  11. Repeat the layers again - cookies - whipped berry cream - macerated berries - whipped berry cream. 
  12. Top with more lemon cookies. You might have some leftover. 
  13. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. 
  14. 30 minutes before serving, mix the remaining berries and strawberries with 1 Tbsp granulated sugar and juice of 1/2 a lemon, set aside to macerate for 30 minutes. 
  15. uncover the cake and invert onto a plate, remove the remaining plastic wrap. 
  16. Cover with the remaining plain whipped cream and top with the remaining berries. 

August 29, 2014

Chipotle Ranch Dressing


My husband and I have been on a spicy kick lately, so when I saw The Pioneer Woman make this on her show I knew I had to give it a try.  She served hers with raw veggies, I made mine a dressing.  This definitely has a kick to it.  I love the smokey taste of chipotle but they can be very spicy.  Luckily the other ingredients cool it down a bit and the flavor just gets better as it sits in the refrigerator.

Loads of flavor here, very herby and fresh tasting.  Creamy and smooth texture.  Love the tang from the vinegar and the slight reddish color the chipotle's give it.

Chipotle Ranch Dressing
Recipe from The Pioneer Woman


Ingredients
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, minced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh dill, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chives, minced
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • dash hot sauce
  • 1-2 chipotle peppers, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup buttermilk, or more depending on whether you're using it as a dip or a dressing.
Directions
  1. Place all the ingredients together in a bottle you can shake, or a dish and whisk together until smooth.  Keep adding buttermilk until it is at the consistency you wish.  Serve as a dip with raw veggies or a dressing.