Friday, September 28, 2012

cinnamon cranberry oat bars

It was my turn to take snack to preschool so I chose these cinnamon cranberry oat bars.  They are delicious!  I did not press them firmly enough into the pan so I ended up with fall-apart bars but they are so flavorful and yummy our family sure didn't mind.  We had to eat a few before taking them to preschool to share.  I watched my youngest two literally lick the huge bowl I used, faces inside the bowl.
Note: they are free of nuts, dairy, eggs and soy.  If you use gluten-free oats and gulten-free rice krispies they will also be gluten-free.

cinnamon cranberry oat bars (Taste of Home Healthy Cooking Oct/Nov 2012)
3 cups quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar

In a large bowl, combine the oats, krispies, cranberries, flax, 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
In a large saucepan, combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, oil and honey; cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla and salt.
Stir in oat mixture; toss to coat.  Press firmly into a 9-inch square pan coated with cooking spray.  Combine sugar and remaining cinnamon; sprinkle over bars.  Cool completely and cut into squares.

What I have to say- I had never bought flaxseed so I was so excited to!  I bought flaxseed whole instead of ground so I couldn't use it.  Talk about disappointed!!  Maybe that's one of the reasons my bars wouldn't hold their shape??

store bought favorite: market of choice's mama leone's chicken soup

I have felt pretty lousy this week and on top of being a busy mom I am in charge of a Sock Hop at the elementary school tonight.  Right now I am wondering if I will survive until bedtime.  But I must.  So I will.  Isn't that just the way it is?
My friend Kris was a dear and brought me some soup, bread and flowers yesterday.  It was so sweet of her and I felt spoiled.  Absolutely spoiled and undeserving yet very thankful.  She didn't even ask permission, she just did it.  She picked up this soup from Market of Choice.  It's called Mama Leone's Chicken Soup and it is the best soup EVER.  It is a Hall of Fame soup for sure.  I found an un-original recipe online and will have to try it very soon.

store bought favorite: market of choice's mama leone's chicken soup
This soup is full of plump, juicy tomatoes, spinach, onions, chicken and cream.  It's heaven on earth.  If you have a Market of Choice make a dash for the deli and get a BIG serving of this soup! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

southwestern chicken barley soup

I went looking for a soup recipe that contained barley with a southwestern flare.  I enjoyed this soup and my kids did too which made this soup a big success.  I will definitely make this soup again.

southwestern chicken barley soup  (adapted from Taste of Home)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups water
1/2 bag frozen sweet corn
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained (I omitted)
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) tomato puree
1 can (14.5 ounces) chicken broth
1/2 cup medium pearl barley
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies, drained
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups cubed or shredded cooked chicken
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt

In a big pot, saute onion and garlic in oil until tender.  Add the water, corn, beans, tomato sauce, tomato puree, broth, barley, chilies, chili powder, cumin and salt.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes.  Stir in chicken; cook, uncovered, 15 minutes longer or until chicken is heated through and barley is tender.  Yield: 12 servings.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

gingerbread pumpkin bars

The combinations of flavors here create a masterpiece.  These are fantastic.  Hall of Fame!  A must-make, must-eat for fall.

gingerbread pumpkin bars (Culinary Concoctions by Peabody
for the bars:
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teapsoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmet
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/3 cup rolled oats

for the filling 
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 3/4 cup mashed pumpkin
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs

for the drizzle:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350.   In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.  In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, sugar and molasses until creamy.  Add dry ingredients and mix just until combined.  Reserve 3/4 cup of this mixture and place in a small bowl.  Scoop the remaining mixture into a 10" by 15" baking pan lightly coated with nonstick spray.
Add the oats to the reserved mixture and mix until combined- set aside.
To make the filling, in a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth.  Add pumpkin, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves- mix until well combined.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until combined.  Scoop the mixture over the uncooked base and use a spatula to evenly spread the mixture over the top.  Crumble reserved oat mixture over filling.
Bake until the topping is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes (took mine like 45!).  Remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
In a small bowl, mix together confectioners' sugar, butter and vanilla.  Mix in just enough milk until the mixture will easily flow from a spoon- drizzle over cooled bars. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

chicken and sausage gumbo

I found this recipe in my Food Network Magazine.  This recipe has won a first-place trophy in a gumbo cooking competition.  I have always liked gumbo and this was a fantastic recipe.   It makes enough for two families.

chicken and sausage gumbo (Food Network Magazine, October 2012)
2/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup white flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup finely chopped onion plus 2 cups roughly chopped
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper(1 teaspoon was plenty!!)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound smoked sausage, sliced (I used smoked turkey sausage)
8 ounces tasso ham or andouille sausage, diced
1 1/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 to 4 scallions, chopped
cooked white rice for serving

Make the roux:  Heat the canola oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat until hot, about 5 minutes.  Whisk in both lours and cook, whisking constantly, until the roux is dark brown, about 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let stand 10 minutes, then stir in the finely chopped onion.
Meanwhile, bring the broth and 20 cups water (yes, 20) to a boil in a large pot.  Add the roughly chopped onion, the celery and bell pepper; cook over medium-high heat, 15 minutes.  Stir in the roux in 3 batches; cook, stirring occasionally until thickened, 30 minutes.  Add the cayenne, garlic powder, 2 1/2 tablespoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.  Stir in the smoked sausage and tasso.  Reduce the heat to low; simmer 1 hour.  
Return the mixture to a boil.  Add the chicken thighs and breasts and cook 30 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  Skim the fat off the surface, then stir in the scallions.  Serve over rice.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

apple smiles

The kindergarten teachers at Amelia Earhart Elementary made these when we taught the Letter Aa.  I never thought to make them with my own kids until I taught the letter Aa for preschool last week.  My kids LOVED these.  In fact all the kids ate the entire thing.  You just never ever know what kids are going to like or dislike.  I wasn't even going to post them until I made some again this afternoon and the crowd went wild.  Wild!  Wanna see smiles?  Make these.

apple smiles
apple slices
Skippy chunky peanut butter
mini marshmallows

Spread peanut butter on two apple slices.  Add marshmallows and put the slices together until they form a smile.  That is how we always did it until I just saw in my Food Network Magazine some scary smiles- they used almonds for the teeth (too spooky for me).  Instead of using slices of apple, they cut a wedge into an apple piece so that's what I did this time.  It worked really well.  Have fun and enjoy!

Monday, September 17, 2012

mexican chopped salad with honey lime dressing

Despite the fact I used up all of the cilantro the day before making this salad, it's a wonderful salad and I am sure the cilantro would've only added to it tremendously.  I really enjoyed the salad dressing. Next time I will add some shredded chicken for some protein.

mexican chopped salad with honey lime dressing (
2 1/2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 can black beans, rinsed and well drained
3/4 cup chopped seeded tomato
3/4 cup chopped peeled jicama
3/4 cup fresh corn kernels, uncooked
3/4 cup thinly sliced radishes
half a ripe avocado, diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon chopped jalapeno pepper 

Toss all salad ingredients in a large bowl.  In separate bowl, mix dressing ingredients.  Pour dressing over mixture and toss again.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

zesty tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons

I was highly satisfied with the outcome of this soup.  It's a GREAT soup.  After my husband had a few bites he said that the next time his mother comes to visit, we must make this soup for her.  She loves soup.  I made the soup and my oldest made the grilled cheese croutons.  I was glad she made them because I'd have probably skipped that step but they made the soup all the more enjoyable.  She was the one who urged me to make this recipe.  So glad she did!

zesty tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons (adapted from Food Network Magazine, October 2012)

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 cups chicken stock
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup orzo (I used 1/4 cup barley)
1/2 cup half and half
grilled cheese croutons

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  Stir in the chicken stock, tomatoes, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.  Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, fill a pot with water, add 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil.  Add the orzo and cook for 7 minutes. (It will finish cooking in the soup.)  Drain the orzo and add it to the soup.  Stir in the half and half.  Return the soup to a simmer and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently.
Serve hot with grilled cheese croutons on top.

grilled cheese croutons
4 slices country white bread
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 ounces cheese, grated 

Heat a panini grill (we used a regular grill pan).  Place the four slices of bread on a cutting board and brush lightly with the melted butter.  Turn the slices over and pile the cheese on two of the slices.  Place the remaining two slices of bread on top of the cheese, buttered sides up.  Grill for about 5 minutes, until nicely browned.  Place on a cutting board, allow to rest for 1 minute and cut into 1-8inch cubes. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

shrimp tacos

We've eaten a lot of fish tacos lately so I decided to mix it up a bit and try shrimp tacos.  I have to say I'm a fan.  I wanted to make sure you could see the shrimp in the photo but I did load on some of my favorite jalapeno salsa and sour cream after the photo was taken.

shrimp tacos (, 5 stars)
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 tablespoons taco seasoning mix
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons oil
1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
12 taco shells (we used corn tortillas and whole wheat tortillas)
2 cups lettuce, shredded
salsa, sour cream, tomatillo sauce, etc.

In a medium bowl, combine shrimp, taco seasoning, garlic and 2 tablespoons lime juice; toss to coat.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add shrimp mixture and cook and stir 2 to 4 minutes or until shrimps turn pink.  Remove shrimp from skillet; place on plate.
In a small bowl, toss avocado with remaining lime juice.  Spoon shrimp into taco shells.  Top with lettuce, avocado, salsa, sour cream, etc.