Sunday, February 19, 2012

Honey Roasted Butternut Squash

***This has been modified since it's original posting. I can't believe I left out the kosher salt! The salt gives it that salty/sweet thing that is SO good! Sorry about that folks!***

We have been trying to shed a few holiday pounds at my house, and consequently, have been eating lots of veggies. I finally bought some pre-chopped butternut squash at Costco after eying it for quite some time, and then I decided to roast it.

There was a recipe on the package that inspired this simple one. I have made it a few times since, and let me tell you, if you love it as much as we do, we just might have to set up a Honey Roasted Butternut Squash addicts anonymous group. I'm tellin' ya, it's good!

Honey Roasted Butternut Squash
1 lb chopped, cubed butternut squash pieces
1 Tablespoon melted butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons Honey
Kosher Salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Melt butter for a few seconds in a small bowl in the microwave, and then add the honey. Stir until combined. Place squash cubes on a large shallow baking pan or cookie sheet and drizzle with honey butter mixture. Lightly sprinkle with kosher salt (to taste). Dig in with your hands and gently toss squash until all pieces are coated. Roast in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until squash is golden brown. Serve hot!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Apple Pudding Cake

I love making this cake in the autumn time. It reminds me of my mom. I remember her making this cake. I don't know where she got this recipe, but it reminds me of one of those fantastic recipes that you get out of your grandmother's old wooden recipe box. You know...the beautiful hand written card that is worn and stained from so much use? Well, I WISH that I was lucky enough to find stuff like that in my grandmother's kitchen, but alas, my grandmother hates cooking and baking and pretty much anything to do with the kitchen. So, I'm really quite sure that this isn't an old family recipe, at least not from my family. But, I'm so lucky that my daughter will be able to find cool things that I only day dream about in both of her grandmother's kitchens!

Anyway, back to the cake. It's a super easy cake to make. It's really basic, but the caramel sauce that you mean drizzle on it just brings it to a new level. But, as you can see in this picture, it's actually a VERY ugly cake. Don't make this and plan on just sticking candles in it and singing "happy birthday" and taking great pictures. The cake is just NOT beautiful!

But, it doesn't look too shabby all dressed up pretty with whipped cream and caramel sauce, does it? (ooh...I love my new camera!)

So, please, please, please don't let it's ugliness deter you. This is an amazing fall dessert, and you must try it! What's your favorite fall dessert?

Apple Pudding Cake

1 Cup Butter, softened (2 sticks)

2 Cups Sugar

2 Eggs

4 Cups peeled and grated Apple (I like to use a mixture of tart and sweet apples, but you can use whatever you have on hand)

2 tsp. Baking Soda

2 tsp. Cinnamon

2 Cups Flour

Grease and flour a 9x13 pan. Combine flour, baking soda and cinnamon in a small bowl. Using a hand or stand mixer, cream butter, sugar and eggs until light and fluffy. Gradually add the dry ingredients, alternating with the grated apple. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated. The batter will be thick. Scoop into prepared pan and smooth out batter. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes. Cake is done when it's dark in color and looks spongy and firm, and no runny spots remain. (See ugly picture above). The "toothpick" trick (i.e. the toothpick comes out clean when it's done) doesn't really work on this cake because it's so moist, so use your best judgement. If it's super ugly and dark, it's probably done! Cool completely, and serve with whipped cream and easy caramel sauce:

Easy Caramel Sauce:

1 C Brown Sugar

½ C Butter

½ C Whipping Cream (don't forget to buy more if you want to top it with whipped cream as well...and uh, believe me, you do!)

To make the sauce, heat butter in small saucepan just until melted. Stir in the sugar until it is dissolved. Remove from heat and whisk in the whipping cream. (Really, this takes like 5 minutes total. There's no cooking to 240 degrees and all that jazz.) Serve cake topped with warm caramel sauce and a spoonful of whipped cream.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

School Lunch Peanut Butter Bars

(This was one of the first recipes I ever posted, but I didn't post any pictures, so I decided to do a re-do!)

So, I know that most people haven't been completely obsessed with food their entire lives like I have been...but do you remember eating peanut butter bars in elementary school? I totally do. They served them as dessert with school lunches. I remember thinking that one bar was just not enough, and searching for ways to get more.

Well, then when I grew up, I worked with this nice woman who was a former lunch lady. She took the cafeteria's peanut butter bar recipe, and scaled it down, and came up with this gem. They are the best peanut butter bars I have ever tasted. Ever.

This recipe makes an entire cookie sheet full, and I can only make them if I have a place to take them and share. I could pretty easily down the whole pan by myself without really trying. They're kinda least in my chocolate/peanut butter loving world.

School Lunch Peanut Butter Bars

1 1/2 C Flour
1¼ tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Baking Soda
¾ C Butter
¾ C Sugar
¾ C Brown Sugar
1 ½ tsp. Vanilla
1 1/2 C Creamy Peanut Butter (split)
2 Eggs
1 ½ C Quick Oats


½ C Butter (1 stick)

3 ½ C Powdered Sugar

2 T Cocoa

¼ C Milk (I use whatever I have in the fridge)

1 tsp. Vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small mixing bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugars, 3/4 C peanut butter, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually add dry ingredients, just until incorporated. Then, stir in the oats. Spread onto a greased 11 x 15 Jelly Roll Pan (cookie sheet). Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes.

The frosting is a two step process. First, whip the remaning ¾ C Creamy Peanut Butter until it becomes lighter colored and fluffy. Carefully spread the whipped peanut butter over the pan cookie.

Then, add butter to a small sauce pan and melt the butter. Add the milk and cocoa. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Heat just until boiling. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Then, gradually add the powdered sugar. Stir until thickened. Pour over the peanut butter and gently spread over the cookie. Cool completely, and slice into bar cookies.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Turkey and Pesto Panini

I promised to post the recipe for this sandwich way back when I posted about freezing pesto but then I realized that I didn't have any good pictures taken. Sorry to make you wait!

This is one of my favorite sandwiches! I usually have everything I need to make it, and it's so easy and very good. I found this on a few years ago, and I think that we have them for dinner once every couple of weeks. You can make these without a panini grill. Just toss them on to a large skillet and make them just like a regular grilled cheese sandwich. If the tomato on there grosses you out, just skip the tomatoes!

Turkey and Pesto Panini

2 tablespoons mayonnaise (I use low fat mayo)

4 teaspoons basil pesto

8 (1-ounce) thin slices sourdough bread (It really is best with sourdough!)

8 ounces sliced cooked turkey breast

2 ounces thinly sliced provolone cheese

8 (1/8-inch-thick) slices tomato

Cooking spray

Combine mayonnaise and pesto in a small bowl. Spread 1 tablespoon mayonnaise mixture on each of 4 bread slices; top each slice with 2 ounces turkey, 1/2 ounce cheese, and 2 tomato slices. Top with remaining bread slices. At this point, you can spread the outside of the bread with butter, or just coat the outside of the bread with cooking spray if you want to cut down on the calories a bit. I have found that if the bread has nothing on the outside of it, the sandwiches are a bit dry and hard to eat.

Preheat panini grill or a large nonstick skillet to medium heat. Add sandwiches to pan. Cook until golden brown. Serve hot! Makes 4 sandwiches.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Banana Bread - TWO ways!

I love banana bread! I love it plain with a glass of milk or with some chocolate chips thrown in. One day I decided to switch it up a bit and came up with these two variations. You can use your favorite banana bread recipe. I like the Classic Banana Bread recipe from Cooking Light. I am including the recipe below with a couple of notes. I usually substitute a cup of whole wheat pastry flour to boost the nutrition. But, I like this recipe because it calls for yogurt. Yogurt helps cut down on the fat without really changing the texture of the bread.

Once your batter is made, then comes the fun part! You can mix cinnamon chips into the batter! I found mini cinnamon chips at a local restaurant supply store called Gygi's. You can order them online at Prepared Pantry too. Or, you could use the Hershey's brand cinnamon chips that you can find at the grocery store, and just chop them up a bit. Cinnamon chips are such a great addition to banana bread or pumpkin pancakes, or oatmeal cookies....or by the handful. Okay, I'm a bit addicted to these little babies.

The other thing I like to add to my banana bread batter is Nutella. Mmmmm...Nutella. Again, just use your favorite banana bread recipe. Mix up your batter and pour half of it into your prepared pan. Then, drop a few big spoonfuls of nutella in and spread it out as much as you can. Add the remaining batter to the top and bake as directed. The Nutella leaves this yummy, moist surprise in the middle of each slice of bread.

Be careful, both of these variations are addicting. You will probably find yourself eating banana bread for breakfast, lunch and snacks! (maybe dinner too!)

Classic Banana Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour (I usually substitute 1 C Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, and 1 cup all-purpose)

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup butter, softened

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)

1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt (I use vanilla yogurt)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk. Place sugar and butter in a large bowl and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, yogurt, and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Spoon batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. (If using a 9inch bread pan, bake for about 50 minutes.)

Monday, January 31, 2011

Yogurt Parfait Bar

My cute sister-in-law is having a baby boy in the next few weeks, so we got together to throw her a baby shower. This was a morning time shower, and we were having some trouble coming up with things to serve that were not sweet and carby. (it's a word, right? As in "loaded with carbs"?!) My sister-in-law called and said "What do you think about a yogurt parfait bar?". My mind started going about a million miles an hour, thinking of different combinations of yogurt, fruit and granolas. I was so excited!

So, I'm going to share with you what I did! I think that it turned out great, and we received a lot of compliments. (My mom-in-law did the decorations...aren't they SOOOOoooo cute?!!)

I decided on 3 different parfaits that people could assemble, and made a little sign to show the delicious suggestions! Some people followed the suggestions, and some people just threw things together.

There was an Apple Pie Parfait made with an apple pie type filling that I made (recipe to follow), vanilla yogurt, and graham cracker crumbs. It surprised me, but this one ended up being my favorite parfait overall.

Then, we had a Berry Berry Parfait with Strawberry Yogurt, mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries and blackberries), and Triple Nut Cranberry Granola (recipe to follow). The berries were fabulous and so sweet. Thank goodness Costco sells good produce even in the middle of the winter!

The last was a Tropical Paradise Parfait that consisted of vanilla yogurt, mixed fruit (pineapple, kiwi, bananas, and mandarin oranges), and a fabulous Coconut and Cashew Granola that I found on Mel's Kitchen Cafe Blog. I adore Melanie and all of her yummy recipes! This granola was to die for. I still can't stop eating it...days after! Visit her blog and make it!

My awesome mother-in-law ran to IKEA for me and picked up these cute jars so that I would have something fun to put the granola in. They worked out great, and were a pretty good deal!

Now for the recipes!

Triple Nut Cranberry Granola

2 cups regular oats
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped slivered almonds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup apple juice
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking spray
1/3 cup dried cranberries (Craisins work well)

Preheat oven to 300°. Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. Combine juice, honey, and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat just until sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in the oil and vanilla. Pour honey mixture over oat mixture, stirring to coat. Spread mixture in a thin layer onto a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray (or you can use a silpat). Bake at 300° for 10 minutes, then stir well. Bake an additional 10 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Spoon granola into a bowl and stir in dried cranberries. Cool completely.

Note: Store completely cooled granola in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. Yield about 4 3/4 cups (serving size: about 1/2 cup) **If you’re going to double this, use two cookie sheets or else it doesn’t get done enough!

Apples and Cinnamon Filling/Topping
(this makes a pretty large can cut it in half!)
2 pounds Granny Smith Apples (about 6-7 medium sized apples)
1 Cube Butter
3/4 C Brown Sugar
Cinnamon (to taste)
Dash of Nutmeg
1/2 Tablespoon All Purpose Flour

Peel and chop apples into small pieces. Place butter into a large frying pan and turn heat to medium. Melt the butter, and then add the apples. Sprinkle apples with brown sugar and stir to coat apples. Liberally sprinkle apples with cinnamon (this is to taste...I went back and added more at the end). Sprinkle with a dash of nutmeg (or more if you really like nutmeg!). Cook apples for 4-5 minutes and then add the flour towards the end to help thicken the butter/juices just a little. I cooked my apples for a total of about 7 minutes before they were the consistency that I wanted. I didn't want them too soft and mushy.

I didn't get a good picture of the apple topping at the shower, but the next day I heated it up and topped our pancakes with it, and oh my goodness... I may never eat another pancake without this topping. It was to die for! The tart granny smith apples are so good with the caramely sweet brown sugar and spicy cinnamon. I thought that this would also be fabulous over vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt as well. I need a snack!

P.S. We also served delicious cinnamon rolls, some mini apple muffins and my favorite Chile Eggs! It was a delicious brunch!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tip - Freezing Pesto

I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season! I apologize for being MIA. I usually have lots going on during the holidays and lots of family visiting from out of town. So, if it doesn't really need to be done, then it doesn't get done...hence no blogging!

I have a couple of good recipes that call for pesto, but since pesto has a strong flavor, it doesn't take much to put some good flavor into a dish. My favorite place to purchase pesto is at Costco (so, it's a big bottle!), and instead of letting it go bad because I can't use the entire jar at once, I freeze it! My favorite way to freeze it is in an ice cube tray. I just spoon it into the ice cube tray, and then once it's completely frozen, I pop them out and seal them into a Ziploc freezer bag. Then, I can just pull out a few at a time when I need them.

You can use pesto in this recipe for pizza rolls, or you can thaw a few and drizzle it over some pasta. Stay tuned and I'll be posting a recipe for a yummy panini that uses pesto in it too!

You all are sure quiet! I'd love to hear if you've tried any recipes and how they worked for you. What's your favorite way to eat pesto?