Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cherry Berry Granola Bars

I don't waste time posting mediocre meals. All of the dishes featured on this blog are ones I consider deliciously yummy. I often speak of blogworthy recipes, and the easiest way for me to know if something blogworthy is Brent's reaction to the dish. I made Cherry Berry Granola Bars on Saturday morning, and before they had even finished cooling Brent popped 3 bars in his mouth. As if he was playing a game of chubby bunny, he attempted to say, "These are really good!" I happen to agree. The variations on this recipe are endless. Switch things up by using pecans or almonds. Try any combination of dried fruits, and use a variety of nut butters for different flavors. Have fun with this tasty breakfast bar.

1 2/3 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup oat flour (I processed rolled oats in a food processor)
1 cup dried fruit (I used a mixture of cherry, blueberry, cranberry)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup nut butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. Coat the parchment paper with non-stick spray.

Stir all the dry (including nut butter) ingredients together. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter, maple syrup, corn syrup and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry until the mixture is crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them down to make sure they are evenly spread, and molded. I used a ziploc bag to help me press the bars down, as the mixture was very sticky! Bake the bars for 30-35 minutes, or until they’re brown around the edges.

Cool the bars in their pan completely. Once complete cool, cut the bars into squares. If they are too crumbly, try cooling them in the freezer for a few minutes. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or to be more eco-friendly, stack them in an airtight container. These bars can also be frozen for later use. Makes 12 bars.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pesto Pea Orzo

I thought about calling this dish Pesto, Pea, Pancetta, and Parmesan Pasta, but I figured that was probably going overboard with the alliteration. This dish makes for a great weekend lunch. The sweetness of the peas, along with the saltiness of the pancetta and Parmesan makes for a simple, yet satisfying meal.

1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1/4 cup pesto
4 ounces diced pancetta
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Cook 4 ounces diced pancetta in a skillet with olive oil until crisp; remove with a slotted spoon.
2. In a large saucepan, cook orzo as directed on the package, adding the peas during the last 4 to 6 minutes of cooking time, cook until tender.
3. Drain excess liquid. Add pancetta, pesto and Parmesan and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve. Makes 5 servings.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Red Velvet Cake Balls

With the huge popularity of Nutella Cake Balls, I decided to experiment a new cake ball combination. What I love about Red Velvet Cake Balls is the bright color when you take a bite. I like to make cake balls over the weekend, store them in the refrigerator and have a yummy bite size dessert ready to enjoy after dinner. I am still working on how to best dip the cake balls in the chocolate. Although delicious, they do not have the smooth truffle look I was going for. Any tips?

1 box red velvet cake mix/ingredients listed on cake mix
1/2 can cream cheese frosting (16 oz.)
2 bars semi-sweet chocolate
Wax paper

1. Bake the cake according to directions on the box.
2. Cool the cake completely, then crumble into large bowl.
2. Mix thoroughly with 1/2 can cream cheese frosting. Some recipes call for the entire can, but I prefer a more cakey cake ball.(Make sure the cake is cooled, otherwise your cake balls will be soggy.)
3. Roll mixture into balls and lay on cookie sheet. You choose the size, but think a little smaller than a ping pong ball.
4. Chill for several hours in the fridge, or 45 minutes in the freezer.
5. Melt chocolate in a double boiler.
6. Dip balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. This is the trickiest part for me. This time I used toothpicks.
7. Store in the refrigerator.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Turkey Sausage Lasagna

When Brent and I lived in California I baked a lasagna that turned out to be a total fail. It was dry, lacked flavor, and the lasagna sheets burnt to a crisp around the edges. Although spaghetti will always be my favorite food, lasagna ranks second. I've always had to satisfy my cravings when eating out because I've been too intimidated to try making it at home after my first attempt. With a ten mile trail race to carbo-load for this weekend, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to face my fear, and bake a blog-worthy lasagna. This Ina Garten recipe has a beautiful blend of cheeses, and slight kick from the hot turkey sausage.

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 cup chopped Yellow Onion
2 Cloves Garlic minced
1 1/2 lb hot Italian turkey sausages casings removed
28-ounce can crushed Tomato in tomato puree
1 6-ounce can Tomato Paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh Flat-leaf parsley divided
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaf
Salt and Pepper
Red Pepper Flakes
10-12 Lasagna noodles
15 oz Ricotta
4 oz creamy Goat's Cheese crumbled
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
1 extra large egg lightly beaten
1 lb fresh Mozzarella thinly sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the sausage and cook over medium-low heat, breaking it up into pieces until no longer pink. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, the basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat, for 15 to 20 minutes, until thickened.
3. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with the hot tap water. Add the lasagna sheets and allow them to sit in the water for 20 minutes. Drain.
4. In a bowl, combine the ricotta, goat cheese, 1 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano, the egg, the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes . Set aside.
5. Transfer 1/3 of the sauce into a 9 by 12 by 2-inch rectangular baking dish, spreading the sauce over the bottom of the dish. Then add half the pasta, half the mozzarella, half the ricotta, and one third of the sauce. Add the rest of the pasta, mozzarella, ricotta, and top with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling. Serves 10.

Adapted from Ina Garten.