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Tag Archives: vegetarian

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins

28 May

There’s quite possibly nothing more classic than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  It’s the sandwich each of my boys packed into their very first school lunch boxes.  Peanut butter is one of the few things I would eat as a picky kid.  It’s the thing I eat still eat by the spoonful today.

Peanut Butter Jelly Muffins

Peanut butter is my superfood.  Everyone knows it’s a lunch favorite.  Most of us know it makes to-die-for desserts.  As in ooey gooey peanut butter brownie cups.  And now, peanut butter has become one of my breakfast addictions.

The boys and I made these on a rainy spring morning.  My little guy took a bite and exclaimed, “Mmm!  These taste like peanut butter!”  My guys were extra spoiled because I even let them scrape the jar clean at the end. 🙂

Peanut Butter jelly Muffins 2

These peanut butter and jelly muffins are a major breakfast treat.  Loaded with protein and real fruit preserves, they pack a nutritional punch to start your day with.

Peanut Butter Jelly Muffins 3

These peanut butter and jelly muffins are remarkably hearty and delish.  It’s a super satisfying breakfast on the go, as Hubby will attest to.  These are not dainty; rather, they are dense and moist.  Just the way you’d expect peanut butter muffins to be.  The fruit preserves are wonderfully sweet and flavorful in the muffins.  I use real preserves rather than jelly, but jelly sounds better for a title.

If you love big peanutty flavor, you’ll enjoy this one.  Happy baking!

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PEANUT BUTTER and JELLY MUFFINS (12 large muffins)

INGREDIENTS
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt
1 cup chunky peanut butter
2 TB cold, salted butter
2 large eggs, room temp
1 cup whole milk, sit out for 10-15 min
jar of fruit preserves or jelly
powder sugar for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS

Set oven to 350F and line muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Cut in the peanut butter and cold butter, using a pastry cutter, until entire mixture becomes well incorporated.  In a small bowl, beat together the eggs and milk.  Stir egg/milk mixture into the flour mixture just until evenly moistened.  Fill lined muffin cups halfway.  Drop in about a tablespoon of fruit preserves/jelly over each muffin cup.  Fill rest of muffin cups to the top with the rest of the batter, smoothing the tops evenly.

Bake for about 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with just a few tender crumbs attached.  Cool muffins completely.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar upon serving, if desired.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, inspired by Taste of Home

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Very Berry Pie Bars

24 May

Memorial weekend signals the unofficial start of summer, and what better way to celebrate the sunshine than picnics, BBQ’s, and lots of ripe berries?

Very Berry Pie Bars 5

Can’t decide if you crave pies vs. dessert bars?  No problem.  We can go hybrid and do it BOGO style.  Two in one.  Bargain hunters, this one’s for you.

It’s a win-win combination.  Think of it:  a buttery and toothsome crust, plus crumbly topping with hints of zesty lemon strewn throughout.  Creamy, thick filling bursting with sweet, juicy berries.

Very Berry Pie Bars

These fresh berry pie bars are the best of both worlds, with tasty pie crust, crumble topping, and plummy filling.   Minus the fuss of actually making a pie.  This “pie” comes in the form of  an easygoing, happy-go-lucky pie bar that’s easily made ahead of time and even easier to dig into.

Very Berry Pie Bars 3

These berry pie bars can happily be made the night before, chilled in fridge, and sliced when ready to devour.  I sliced mine into smaller squares to feed a crowd, and there was plenty to go around.  For easy serving plus cute factor, just house the individual squares in pretty cupcake liners.  These are best served chilled, so keep ’em cold until dessert time.  They won’t sit around long once you bring them out.

Enjoy, and happy Memorial weekend!

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VERRY BERRY PIE BARS (makes one 9×13)

For the crust and topping:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup white sugar
Zest of one large lemon
1 1/2 cups salted butter, cold

For the filling:
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups white sugar
1 cup greek yogurt
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
Juice of one large lemon
2 tsp. vanilla extract
30 oz any mixture of fresh blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350F.  Generously grease a 9×13 pan along bottom and sides.  Set aside.

In bowl of a food processor, lightly pulse together the flour, sugar, and lemon zest just until blended.  Cut cold butter into slices and add to bowl.  With a few short pulses, cut the butter into flour mixture just until mixture is crumbly.  Small bits of butter remaining is fine.  (Alternatively, you can use a pastry cutter if you don’t have a food processor.)

Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the flour/butter mixture for the topping.  Pour the rest of the mixture into bottom of prepared baking pan.  Press firmly for an even layer of crust on bottom of pan.  (It’s easy to press evenly with the flat bottom of a water glass or ramekin.)  Bake crust about 15 minutes or until golden.  Remove baked crust from oven, but keep oven on.

Combine eggs, sugar, Greek yogurt, flour, salt, lemon juice, and vanilla.  Whisk until smooth.  Carefully fold in the berries with rubber spatula.  Gently spread filling over the baked crust.  Sprinkle reserved topping over the filling, to make an even layer of crumble topping.

Bake about 75 min to 90 min or until topping turns golden and bars are set.  Cool completely at room temp before putting in fridge to chill.  Chill several hours or overnight.  Cut and serve cold.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from Annie’s Eats, via the Pastry Queen

Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

20 May

One peek into our pantry reveals our family’s obsession with granola bars.  Fruit-filled granola bars, nutty granola bars, and the kids’ favorite… chewy chocolate chip granola bars.  But because I’m uber picky about the ingredients that go into the granola bars I buy, it gets pricey keeping a replete supply on hand.

chewy chocolate chip granola bars 3

Granola bars must be one of the best creations of all time.  Busy families can attest to their great worth.  After all, granola bars are a multi-hat-wearing kind of food.  They serve as the perfect breakfast-on-the-go, sans mommy guilt because they’re packed with good stuff.  They are an easy grab for the lunch boxes.  Perfect after school snack.  Car snack.  Shopping snack for the kids 😉

chewy chocolate chip granola bars

Whenever I can, I love making our own granola bars.  We’ve done all kinds of granola bars, but my kids’ ultimate fave are these chewy chocolate chip granola bars.  Like the store variety, they are chewy and sweet, but infinitely better because you made them yourself.  You know exactly what went into them.  No ingredients you can’t pronounce.  Only the good stuff goes into these yummy granola bars.

chewy chocolate chip granola bars 2

Sweetened with brown sugar and honey, chock full of oats, and tossed with mini chocolate chips.  Exactly eight ingredients went into these addictive granola bars.  They store well for days, if kept in an airtight container.

Get ready for a quick and satisfying breakfast or snack.  You just might need to double the recipe.

Enjoy!

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CHEWY CHOCOLATE CHIP GRANOLA BARS (makes one 8×8 pan)

INGREDIENTS

1/4 – 1/3 cup  light brown sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
1/4 cup honey
4 TB salted butter
2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup crispy rice cereal
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

Butter an 8×8 baking pan and set aside.  In large bowl, combine oats and cereal only.  In a saucepan, melt brown sugar, honey, and butter over medium heat, stirring, until it reaches a low boil.  Immediately reduce to simmer, and stir another 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, and stir in cinnamon and vanilla extract until fully incorporated.

Carefully pour melted honey mixture over the cereal mixture.  Mix until fully incorporated.  Press granola mixture into the buttered pan, pressing down to pack the granola tightly and evenly into pan.  Sprinkle mini chocolate chips evenly over top of granola, using back of spoon or slightly wet hands.  (Mini chips may melt if you try to fully mix into the granola rather than sprinkle on top)

Allow granola to fully cool before cutting.  Store in airtight container.

Note:  If your granola bars break apart, it may help to chill the bars prior to cutting.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from browneyedbaker.com

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Bars

15 May

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Bars.  This post needs no words, really.  A picture is worth a thousand, right?

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Bars 1

But I do have a small back-story.  It went like this:

Hubby:  I have a Dessert Challenge Day at work coming up.  Do you have an idea for what I can make?

Me:  Awesome!  I’ve totally got ideas.  What’s the date of the Dessert Challenge?

Hubby:  Tomorrow.

Me:  (Silence. Blink. Blink.)

After I recovered from the mini shock, my excitement to bake something yummy kicked in.  I’d been hankering for Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Bars for quite some time.  No better excuse than a Dessert Challenge to break out these decadent treats.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake bars 2

Oh.  My.  Goodness.  This was so, so worth it.  So worth the late-night baking and kitchen blunders that occur as a result of late-night baking.  Hubby was making an entire pan for work, and I was making another pan for me.  A little chaos in the kitchen.  Note to Self:  Make this during normal hours and pay attention =  it’s a cinch!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Bars 3

There’s something here for everyone.  Flavorful graham cracker crumb crust for all the crust-lovers.  Thick, rich cheesecake for cheesecake fans like myself.  Chocolate chip cookie dough full of gooey chocolate for cookie buffs.  Decadent and rich.  Smooth and creamy.  Textured and chewy.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Bars

You can taste the crust, cheesecake, and cookie all separately yet it all marries together like a match made in heaven.

You have to try this.  Your taste buds will thank you.  And your family and friends will look at you with speechless awe.  Enjoy!

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CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE CHEESECAKE BARS (12 servings)
* serve cold for best taste and texture

INGREDIENTS

For the Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
7 TB melted, salted butter

Cheesecake Filling:
12 oz cream cheese, room temp (indents when lightly pressed, but not melty at all)
1/3 cup sugar
1 extra large egg, room temp
1 TB pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough:
5 TB salted butter, room temp (indents when lightly pressed, but not melty)
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 TB granulated sugar
1 TB pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup mini chocolate chips (mini chips turn out more gooey)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325F with rack on lower middle.  Line 8×8 square baking pan with parchment paper, with enough hanging over handles to make a “sling.”  Oil the parchment paper.

Make Crust:  Mix melted butter and cracker crumbs together until resembles wet sand.  Press mixture firmly and evenly into bottom of pan.  Bake for 7-8 minutes.  Remove pan to rack, but keep oven on.

Make Cheesecake Filling:  In bowl in stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy and smooth.  Mix in egg and vanilla on low until incorporated, taking care not to overmix.  Pour cheesecake batter into prepared crust.  Set aside.

Make Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough:  In bowl on stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add vanilla and mix just until combined.  Slowly mix in the flour on low speed just until combined, taking care not to over mix.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Drop clumps of slightly-flattened dough evenly on top of cheesecake batter.  Continue until all cookie dough is evenly distributed across top of cheesecake.

Bake 30-40 minutes, until top of dough feels mostly dry and entire pan looks mostly set if given a gentle shake.  It will continue to set up as it chills.  Move bars to cooking rack to cool completely.  Chill several hours or overnight.  Lift bars out by sling and cut.  Keep cut bars in fridge until ready to serve.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from mybakingaddiction

Note:  Leftover bars can be wrapped and stored in freezer.

Fresh Strawberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

10 May

For Mother’s Day weekend, I knew immediately what I’d want to bake up.  A great strawberry cake.  Mommies and berries and pink.  They were all three meant to be.  My lovely Mom is almost clear across the country, but I dedicate this pretty pink cake to her.

Strawberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I love that this cake is made with back-to-basics ingredients.  No artificial coloring and no boxes of Jello or pudding.  Just lots of strawberries.  I ended up changing much of the original recipe instructions.  For reasons still a mystery, the first bake attempt didn’t work.  The second time, it turned out beautifully.  The cake is light, fluffy, and tender.   It naturally won’t bake up as pink as artificially-colored cakes, but you’re welcome to add a drop or two of red food coloring if you really, really want to 🙂

Strawberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting 2

This strawberry-cream cheese frosting is really what steals the show.  I’m not a huge buttercream frosting girl (gasp!), but I do adore cream cheese frostings.  Cream cheese takes treats over-the-top.  Have you met the cheesecake ?  This rich frosting has the decadent flavor of strawberry cheesecake, with a smooth and creamy texture that’s perfectly spreadable.

Strawberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting 3

Frosting that’s a treat in itself.  Spoon-licking worthy.  Finger-licking yum.  You get the idea.  I am already brainstorming ways to incorporate this dreamy frosting into future desserts.

How would you use this frosting?

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FRESH STRAWBERRY CAKE (about 8 servings)
*Fresh strawberries need to macerate overnight

For the Cake:

16 oz very, very ripe, red fresh strawberries (with not much white on them.  If a lot of white needs to be cut off, you’ll need more strawberries.  The riper the better.)
3 tsp sugar
12 Tb unsalted butter, room temp (lightly indents when tapped, not melty at all)
1 3/4 cup white sugar
4 large eggs, whites and yolks separated – room temp
1/4 cup whole milk, room temp
1 TB vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup cake flour, sifted after measuring
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

For the Frosting:

4 TB strawberry puree (use leftover puree from cake)
8 TB regular butter, firm
8 oz cream cheese, slightly cold
16 oz (1 lb) confectioner’s sugar

DIRECTIONS

For the Cake:

Hull and slice fresh strawbrries.  Toss with 3 tsp sugar and cover.  Let sit in fridge overnight, until they become macerated and juicy.  Blend strawberries with short pulses, just until pureed.  Do not over blend.

Preheat oven to 350F with rack on lower middle.  Line bottom of two 8 or 9 inch round pans with parchment paper.  Grease and flour the paper and sides of pans.

Beat butter and sugar in stand mixer with paddle attachment on medium high, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add milk, yolks, vanilla, and 3/4 cup of strawberry puree (save remaining puree for frosting, filling, or other use.)  Blend just until combined.

In separate bowl, whisk together:  sifted cake flour, baking powder, and salt.  Fold in the butter mixture with rubber spatula, just until wet/dry ingredients are fully incorporated.  Do not over mix.

In a clean bowl, using electric mixer, beat egg whites just until still peaks form.  Gently fold egg whites into the cake batter with rubber spatula, softly folding until combined.

Divide batter evenly among the two pans.  Give the pans a gentle shake to level out the tops.  Bake 20-25 minutes just until toothpick inserted in center has a few tender crumbs attached.  Watch carefully so it does not over bake and become dry.  Let cakes rest at room temp for 10 minutes and turn out onto wire racks.  Let cool completely before frosting.

For the Frosting:

In stand mixer using paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until it is light, pale yellow, and fluffy.  Add cream cheese and beat until combined.  Reduce speed to low and add confectioner’s sugar and beat until combined.  Add the strawberry puree and mix just until combined.  Place frosting in fridge about an hour before use.  Frosted dessert should be kept in fridge until ready to serve.  This frosting is best suited for spreading rather than piping, as it is smooth and creamy soft.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, inspired by foodiebride (cake only)

Russian Tea Cakes (Mexican Wedding Cookies)

2 May

It’s about time I posted these Russian Tea Cakes.  These cookies are fabulously popular during the winter holidays, and though Christmas was five months ago, these cookies know no boundaries in time.  Russian Tea Cakes are otherwise known as Mexican Wedding Cakes and Snowballs.  My personal favorite moniker for these cuties are Southern Pecan Butterballs.  Ultimately, they are simply one thing:  melt-in-your-mouth-amazing.

Russian Tea Cakes 4

The simplicity of Russian Tea Cakes is quite deceiving.  Like, don’t-judge-a-book-by-its-cover deceiving.  They are far more than meets the eye.  These cookies are perfect morsels of nutty sweetness.  They are tenderly crisp and melt into a buttery bliss bite after bite.  After bite.

Russian Tea Cakes 2

Russian Tea Cakes are made with just six ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.  I love the flavor that pecans impart, so I stick with pecans for my nuttiness 🙂  Grinding the pecans allows the texture of the cookies to remain light and airy, and the flavors to infuse seamlessly.

Russian Tea Cakes 3

I think these are Hubby’s new favorite cookie.  The kids inhale them, of course, because what kid doesn’t love plenty of magical powder sugar?  I personally had to share them with friends so I wouldn’t pop all of them into my mouth in one afternoon.

These cookies are known to keep superbly well for many days (even weeks!) in an airtight container.  But seriously, let’s be real – nobody can keep them around that long.  Sounds good in theory.   Enjoy!

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RECIPE for Russian Tea Cakes (40-50 cookies)

INGREDIENTS

1 cup salted butter, room temp
2 cups powdered sugar
1 TB vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup pecans, toasted, cooled, and finely ground (not to the point of it becoming a paste)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cinnamon, depending on taste

DIRECTIONS

Beat butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy, 5-8 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until well blended.  Add flour and nuts, beating until incorporated.  Remove dough and divide roughly in half.  Wrap each half in plastic and chill in fridge for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350F, rack on lower middle position.  Whisk together remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and cinnamon in a pie dish.

Take out first half of chilled dough.  Make 1-inch cookie balls and arrange balls on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, 1 inch apart.  Bake cookies just until bottoms are light golden brown, 16-17 minutes.  Cool for 5-10 minutes on sheet.  Carefully toss warm cookies in the cinnamon sugar mix, coating completely.  Place cookies on wire rack to finish cooling.  Once fully cooled, re-coat each cookie in cinnamon sugar mix and serve.  Repeat with other half of dough.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Luscious Key Lime Bars

22 Apr

Spring envy is sooo rampant around here as everyone awaits completion of our final (please, let it be the last one) dump of snow.  In case you didn’t see the post date, it’s April 22.  Our ridiculously late spring is supposed to make an entrance this weekend, and the entire state will suddenly bust out walking, biking, playing, and dancing.  Or just standing.  Outdoors.

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I recently posted one of my favorite spring treats here.  It’s time to break out my other favorite spring treat.  Key lime bars.  Luscious, because they are unbelievably and unforgettably amazing.

Luscious Lime Bars 6

Limes tempt your senses with their freshness and springy-ness.  You already know of their cocktail virtues, but did you know the Lime stars in its own to-die-for dessert?

Luscious Lime Bars Cooks Illustrated

I was truly surprised at how fabulous these Lime Bars are.  The batch I brought to a gathering left me nothing but crumbs to bring home.  My kiddos and hubby inhaled every small bit they could get their hands on.

Luscious Lime Bars 5

These Lime Bars are sweet and lightly tangy, rich and creamy, light and smooth… all at the same time.  That decadent filling sits on top of a crisp textured, perfectly sweetened crust.

You will l-o-v-e this.  Enjoy!

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RECIPE: KEY LIME BARS (one 13×9 pan)

INGREDIENTS

For the Filling:
4 oz cream cheese, room temp
2 TB grated lime zest
1 cup fresh lime juice, from 6-8 limes
1/8 tsp salt
2 (14 oz each) cans sweetened condensed milk
2 large egg yolks
powdered sugar, for dusting

For the Crust:
10 oz animal crackers (i.e., Stauffer’s Original)
6 TB packed brown sugar
8 TB salted butter, melted and slightly cooled

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325F, with rack on middle position.  Press a long sheet of heavy-duty foil into the corners and up sides of 13×9 pan, with enough foil hanging over edges of pan, for super easy removal later.  Grease foil.

Pulse animal crackers in food processor until evenly fine.  Add brown sugar and salt and process to combine.  Drizzle butter over crumbs and pulse until crumbs are moistened with butter evenly.  Press crumbs firmly and evenly into bottom of prepared pan.  Bake until golden brown, 18-20 minutes.  Cool while making the filling.  Leave oven on.

In medium bowl, stir cream cheese, zest, and salt with a rubber spatula until soft and creamy and fully incorporated.  Add sweetened condensed milk and whisk vigorously until combined and no lumps of cream cheese remain.  Whisk in egg yolk.  Add lime juice and gently whisk until fully combined.  Mixture will thicken slightly.

Pour filing into crust.  Spread to corners and smooth the surface.  Bake until set and edges begin to pull slightly away from sides, 23-25 minutes.  Center will still be a bit jiggly.  Cool on wire rack to room temp.  Cover with foil and refrigerate until fully chilled.  Remove bars from pan using foil.  Cut into squares and sprinkle with powdered sugar right before serving.  Keeps for days in fridge.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from Cooks Illustrated cookbook

Creamy Avocado Pasta

17 Apr

One hallmark of the house I grew up in was a colossal avocado tree in the backyard.  From my vantage point, it was a monumental tree amongst several other smaller fruit trees.  Much to my parents’ chagrin, we kids wouldn’t touch the avocados that grew profusely.  Mom always ended up giving away loads of fine fruit.

Creamy Avocado Pasta 1

Fast forward to present day.  Hello, Self. What was I thinking?!  Avocados cost like 1.50 each.  Hind sight is always 20/20.

Creamy Avocado Pasta 3

When my parents moved to their current house, a new avocado tree took root in their new backyard.  A petite version of their massive old one.  This new avocado tree may not be the tallest in the bunch, but it sure yields a copious crop.  When people visit my folks, they go home with more fruit than they know what to do with.  Older and wiser now, I made sure to bring home my share of large avocados.  Still firm enough to safely cram into my suitcase for the cross-country flight home.  Did I mention they would normally cost 1.50 each?

Creamy Avocado Pasta 2

What my avocado-loving middle child didn’t immediate polish off, I was able to make into yummy dishes.  Case in point:  this phenomenal Creamy Avocado Pasta.  This pasta has all you’d want in a creamy-sauced pasta dish, minus the cream.  No cream.  Just pure avocado bliss.  It’s rich, smooth, and light all at the same time.  For extra nutrition and beautiful color, add plenty of fresh parsley (you can’t really taste it in the dish.)  To make it Superman healthy, we use whole grain pasta.

P.S.  If you keep the sauce separately in an air tight container, it will keep beautifully ’til tomorrow!  Enjoy it!

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RECIPE (8 servings)

INGREDIENTS

4 large ripe Hass avocado, peeled and pitted
Juice of 1 fresh lemon
8 garlic cloves, peeled
4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp paprika
1 cup flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
20-24 oz dried pasta
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly shaved Parmesan for topping

DIRECTIONS

Blend lemon juice, garlic cloves, salt, paprika, parsley, and olive oil together in a food processor until smooth.  Add avocado.  Continue processing until smooth and creamy.  Add black pepper to taste.  Set sauce aside in air tight container, with cling wrap resting directly on top of sauce to keep air out.

In a large heavy pot, bring well-salted water to boil.  Cook pasta just until al dente, according to package.

Drain pasta in strainer and sprinkle with olive oil to prevent sticking.  Plate the pasta and pour desired amount of sauce onto each plate.  Toss to combine and sprinkle with plenty of fresh parmesan.  Serve immediately.

Note:  If there will be leftover sauce, keep it in a separate air tight container (cling wrap resting on top of sauce.)  Keeps well in fridge for a day or two this way.  When ready to use, simply make hot pasta and pour on remaining sauce.  Don’t reheat the sauce – just toss it with hot pasta.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from ohsheglows

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

28 Mar

Whoever thought to make a dessert out of carrots was sort of genius.  Who would have thought that shredded carrots would be yummy in birthday cakes or cupcakes?  Carrot cake is one of the most beloved flavors today, and for good reason.  Armed with a great recipe, anyone can bake up a superbly moist, tender, and addictive carrot cake.

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My kids know this yummy treat is called carrot cake, but I doubt they realize there is an abundance of freshly shredded carrots in their dessert.  Lots of good-for-you carrots.  Plenty of plump raisins.  Walnuts, if you like them.  Extra raisins if you don’t.

carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

Over the years, I have made carrot cake in the form of bundts, loaves, and cupcakes.  This time, I opted for a simple sheet cake.  Easy and fail-proof deliciousness.  This fabulous carrot cake recipe is one I’ve loved ever since an old friend shared it with me ages ago.  It’s one of those well-loved recipes that has years’ worth of chicken scratch written all over the margins and is fraying along the edges.

carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

This carrot cake is perfect for Easter, birthdays, or just whenever.  With or without cream cheese frosting, it’s delish for dessert or even breakfast.   It can double up as a morning coffee cake, right?  After all, carrots and raisins are totally good for you.  Enjoy 🙂

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RECIPE (one 13×9 pan)
Easy one-bowl method for simple cleanup

INGREDIENTS

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp table salt
3 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/4 cup olive oil
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups grated raw, peeled carrots
1 can (8-10 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cups raisins
1/2 cups chopped walnuts (optional)

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/2 cups softened butter
16 oz softened cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 lb powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS

1.  Preheat oven to 350F with rack on lower middle position.  Press a long sheet of foil into a 9×13 pan, with extra foil hanging over edges for easy cake removal.  Grease the foil.

2.  Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, mixing well.  Form a well in the center.  Add sugar, oil, and eggs into the well and mix wet ingredients by hand.  Fold into dry ingredients until fully incorporated.

3.  Fold in carrots, pineapple, raisins, and optional walnuts.

4.  Bake in greased, foil-lined pan about 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out almost clean.  Cool and remove with foil sling.  Frost as desired.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
Combine butter, cream cheese, and vanilla.  Beat well.  Add sugar gradually and beat well.  If too thick, add small amount of milk.  If too thin, add small amounts of sugar until desired consistency is reached.  Frosting naturally thickens and firms up as it sits.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from my old friend Naomi

Honey Pear Bread

22 Mar

Quick breads are one of my fave things to bake for breakfast.  Now, I don’t wake up extra early to bake.  I’m a bear if awoken too early.  I don’t even try to pretend I’m Miss Sunshine at the crack of dawn.  Instead, my happy night-owl self prefers to strut around the kitchen in the evening, baking something yummy for tomorrow’s breakfast.  Honey Pear Bread makes an awesome breakfast, particularly if it was baked the day before 🙂

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I often bake various quick breads on the weekends so the family has something extra yummy for breakfast when they wake up.  They love this moist, tender, pear-filled bread with the perfect balance of sweetness, thanks to honey and brown sugar.  Honey Pear Bread is loaded with healthful ingredients, making it a no-brainer for both flavor and nutrition.  One loaf lasts about one day in our household.

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This Honey Pear Bread is a tasty alternative to apple breads, when you’re looking to deviate from the norm.  I love that this bread uses firm pears, because pears are almost always firm at the store when I buy them, and I don’t have to wait for them to soften!  A bit of immediate gratification.

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This recipe makes extra batter, which is perfect for tender muffins – bonus!  Dense, moist, chock-full of goodness, and superbly satisfying.  Make some Honey Pear Bread, and sit back to enjoy it with your morning coffee.  Or afternoon  snack with tea.  Or dessert with ice-cream on top 🙂

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Honey Pear Bread (or muffins) keeps really well.  Both texture and flavor are much better the day after it’s baked.

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RECIPE (one large 9×5 loaf + ten muffins, OR 2 smaller loaves)

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup honey
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 TB vanilla extract
1 1/4 tsp table salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 TB ground flax meal (dry)
5 cups of very firm pears, peeled and diced

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350F, with rack on lower middle position.  Generously grease one large loaf pan and line a muffin pan (or grease two loaf pans for two smaller loaves.)

In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, olive oil, applesauce, and honey.  Stir together.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Stir to incorporate.

In another large bowl, combine salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, allspice, all-purpose and wheat flours, and flax meal.  Mix dry ingredients well.  Gently fold honey mixture into dry ingredients, just until completely moistened.  Gently fold in pears, distributing evenly.  Pour batter into prepared loaf pan(s) and/or muffin tin.

For single large loaf, filled almost to the top, bake 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out almost clean, with few moist crumbs attached.

If splitting batter between two loaf pans, bake 45-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out with few moist crumbs attached.

For muffins filled almost to the top, bake 20-23 minutes or until toothpick comes out with few moist crumbs attached.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, inspired by allrecipes

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