Thursday, January 30, 2014

Making a classic even better

When my friend Ellen told me about Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook, I was immediately intrigued.  It seems so simple but browning the butter (and using more) and adding some coarse kosher salt made these even better.  Reflecting upon what happened to that pan of Rice Krispy treats makes me realize I probably was  better off not knowing about these changes!

It's been a busy month or so and the blog is suffering for it.  So, in case I don't post again until Valentine's Day, here's my idea of making treats for my daughter's class:  I want to cut skinny rectangles of Rice Krispy treats, dip the ends in melted chocolate and then put red sprinkles on the chocolate part . . . we'll see if that materializes.

In the meantime, go Broncos!!

Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats (makes a 9x9 pan)
from Smitten Kitchen

1 stick (1/2 c) unsalted butter
10 oz marshmallows (I like the small ones because they melt more evenly)
heaping 1/4 tsp. of coarse sea salt
6 c. Rice Krispies cereal

Butter (or coat with nonstick spray) a 9x9 pan.  In a large heavy bottomed pot, melt butter over medium-low heat.  After it's melted, it will foam before turning a clear golden color and then it will finally start to turn brown.  Stir frequently and keep a close eye on it because as soon as it starts to get brown and smell nutty is when you want to turn the heat off before it burns.  When you turn the heat off, stir in the marshmallows and continue to stir until the marshmallows are smooth and melted.

Still off heat, stir in the salt and cereal together and spread into the prepared pan.  I use a spatula to pack it evenly in the pan - be careful with the hot mixture!  Let it cool before cutting into squares.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Breakfast Cookies

I've been intrigued with the idea of finding a cookie-like breakfast item that the kids will eat and that is a healthy item to grab on the way out the door.  The main thing that's fit the bill so far is homemade granola bars (we're still loving this version) but if I could tell the girls it's a cookie, they might eat more.

It's still a work in progress, but the version I made last week was decent.  As the week went on, the texture got sort of rubbery and I got a little sick of them (the girls vetoed them on the basis of the pumpkin flavor and lack of any chocolate chips) but I love the premise and the ingredients.  The original site recommends serving with whipped cream.  I thought a plain cream cheese frosting would be nice (just a little maple syrup to sweeten it?).  If you try these, let me know what you think!

Pumpkin Quinoa Breakfast Cookies (12 lg or 24 small)
from Skinny Taste

1.5 c. water
3/4 c. uncooked quinoa
1 c. all purpose flour (can use a gf all purpose blend)
1/2 c. sugar (you can sub coconut sugar)
1/4 c. ground flax seed
1 T. pumpkin pie spice
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
2 T oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg white
2 T maple syrup.

Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer.  Combine the rinsed quinoa and the water in a saucepan.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Once complete, remove from stovetop and cool for a couple of minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.

Add flour, sugar, flax, pumpkin pie spice and salt to a large bowl and mix well.  Measure 1.5 cups cooked quinoa and add to the flour mixture.  Stir until all the quinoa granules are covered in the mixture.  Set aside.  Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl.  Mix the wet and dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Scoop mounds of the cookie "dough" onto the prepared baking sheet and flatten with your hands or a spatula.  I made 12 large ones (6 to a pan) but you can alternately make 24 using about 1 tablespoon per cookie.

Bake them for 25-30 minutes  until cooked through and golden.  Remove from oven, cool on pan for 10 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack.  Cool completely before storing in a covered container in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Back to real life

After a great Christmas break and the luxury of staying in bed longer, visiting with friends and family, and some unstructured days, starting back to work and school was a little tough for us.  Here's a glimpse of my life with three girls these days:

She's getting so big - pulling herself up and getting into everything
Current favorite table food:  Kraft Mac & Cheese
She still remembers how to float!  How amazing is this January weather?!?
Riding her bike
Speaking of getting big . . . can hardly believe how big Big is.
And, sick kids are so sad.  Poor baby girl!
 I'm working afternoons this quarter and walk in the door at dinner time so I'm trying to be more organized so that we don't resort to take out or pancakes . . . once in awhile is fine, but not twice a week!

For my first week back, I made this new chili in the crockpot on Monday and on Wednesday, I left teriyaki marinated salmon for my husband to put in the oven.  This way, I get to come home to a hot supper after work!  The chili might not be earth-shattering (I like variations on chili like this lentil chili and this one with black beans and sweet potatoes), but it was tasty and super easy to throw together.  When I was growing up, we would eat chili on top of tortilla chips and topped with shredded cheese (we called it "Pepper Bellies") and to this day, that combo is comfort food to me!  The good news is that by itself, this chili is loaded with protein and low in calories (only about 150 calories/cup).

Crockpot Chicken Chili (makes 6 cups)
adapted from Skinny Ms

2 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
1 can fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T tomato paste
1 T chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
salt to taste
1 can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 c. chicken broth
sour cream & shredded cheese for serving (optional)

Put everything except the sour cream and shredded cheese into a crockpot.  Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Bacon Wrapped Dates

Happy New Year!  2013 was a big year for our family - a new baby, lots of travel, fun times with friends and family - and we're looking forward to what 2014 has in store for us.  

I've been wanting to make bacon wrapped dates for a long time and finally gave it a go . . . they are super easy and people like them a lot.  I mean, wrap about anything in bacon and it's delicious, right?  The bonus here is that the smokiness of the bacon complement the sweetness of the dates and the creamy texture of the goat cheese just adds another layer of flavor.

I read about these in "Bread & Wine"  (see my review here) and Shauna says she assembles them the night before, places them in a disposable foil pan, and pops them in the oven the next day.  I like the idea of a make-ahead appetizer that you still serve warm.  My friend Will puts them on a cooling rack over a foil lined pan so that the bacon grease drains.

About half way through wrapping them with bacon, I realized that my package of applewood smoked bacon from Trader Joe's was only 12 ounces and not a full pound so I started cutting the bacon slices into thirds instead of halves.  When they baked, the bacon shrunk so I put the toothpicks in before serving to hold the whole thing together.  You shouldn't need the toothpicks if you have a half slice of bacon.

Bacon Wrapped Dates (makes 2-3 dozen)

16 oz Medjool dates
4 oz goat cheese
16 oz sliced bacon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Slice the dates lengthwise on one side so you can open it up (like a book) and remove the pit.  Then, fill with goat cheese and fold it back together.  Cut the bacon slices in half and wrap one half slice around each goat cheese filled date.  Place seam side down on a foil lined pan (or foil pan or rack - see notes above).  Bake for 20-25 minutes until the bacon is brown and crispy.  Remove from the pan and drain on a paper towel lined plate.  Serve warm or room temperature, but not hot.