Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dough great, fillings not so great

The Ugly Binder, from the internet

1 cake yeast
5 cups flour
1/2 pound butter (softened)
1/2 pound crisco
3 egg yolks
1 cup sour cream
Solo Canned Filling - Many varieties to choose from.

Crumble yeast into flour. Add shortening and butter as for pie dough. Add egg yolks and sour cream. Mix well with hands. Shape into ball and cover with wax paper and refrigerate overnight.
On a clean rolling surface sprinkle a little flour and also flour the rolling pin lightly. Roll out only 1/4 of the dough at a time, otherwise the dough will become to soft. Roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch, cut into 3 inch squares. Place 1 tesp of filling into center of square, bring two ends of dough to center of square and pinch together to seal.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, bake on ungreased cookie sheet 15 to 20 minutes till golden. When cool sprinkle with powdered sugar if you like.

I've been wanting to make Kolacky (it has many variations of spellings) for years. I remember this cookie from my childhood although the memory is murky. You can make these cookies using a non-yeast dough, sometimes using a cream cheese dough. My mother has probably made them both ways but I doubt she can remember exactly which recipes she's used over the years (I don't think there was just one). And I could be remembering cookies made by someone else, I'm just not completely sure. Getting older sucks.

One thing for sure is that the fillings I remember the most fondly are nut and farmer's cheese. I couldn't make nut filling since we avoid treenuts in our house and I haven't seen farmer's cheese in any stores locally although I will keep looking until I find it. I found an internet source but the cost with shipping was outrageous. I had to settle for other fillings.

I enjoyed this dough - it was easy to put together and actually very easy to work with. Next time I might roll in out in powdered sugar instead of flour but otherwise it was exactly what I wanted. I didn't care for the Solo fillings I used (prune and apricot) or the cream cheese filling I made. The Solo fillings were fine but they aren't very sweet. That's great when you're using them to fill a sweetened cake or cookie but this dough isn't sweet at all. Growing up, we had access to better lekvar (prune filling) that was sweeter and more flavorful. Cream cheese just isn't a substitute for farmer's cheese either.

So I'll keep working on fillings for this recipe. Maybe someday I'll find farmer's cheese again. I finally found Fage Greek yogurt! I've been looking everywhere for that and I finally found a somewhat local source and it is definitely better than any other plain yogurt I've tried.

I haven't really started cooking again yet. Tonight I'm going to try a new wing recipe, modified a bit and make some regular hot wings, just to be safe in case the new recipe is a bust. I'm going to make a flank steak and then some cocktail weiners in grape jelly and chili sauce. It's sort of a tradition to make dinner out of appetizers on New Year's Eve at our house. I'll round things out with some veggies and dip and maybe pull out some of my homemade pepper jelly and pour it over some cream cheese.

Blast From The Past: Marinated Flank Steak from May 2007. OMG! I can't believe that was from all the way back in May. This year flew. I'm using that recipe tonight. My son loved it.

Question of the Day: Do you have any special plans for New Year's Eve? That's one holiday I think we all celebrate.

Friday, December 28, 2007

I'm alive!

I've really enjoyed taking this little break and I'm feeling rejuvenated. I believe that first trimester fatigue has finally subsided but it was quickly replaced by holiday fatigue. I haven't been completely ignoring my blog - the recipes archives are now completely updated. I was months behind and I really wanted to get them caught up before posting anything else. I'm going to update my links over the weekend and get back to my normal posting schedule on Monday.

I got a couple of new cookbooks, a Cuisinart Griddler and a food processor to play with now. The new year should be fun!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Pasta on the table and a bun in the oven
--Rigatoni Con Salsiccia (Rigatoni with Sausage)

Rigatoni Con Salsiccia (Rigatoni with Sausage)
The Art of Italian Cooking Copyright 1948

1 lb rigatoni I used penne because I wanted to use Dreamfield pasta
1 lb Italian pork sausage
3 tbs olive oil
1 chopped onion
1 lb fresh mushrooms
1 bay leaf
1 large can tomato puree
½ cup grated Pecorino cheese
1 clove garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut sausage in 1-inch pieces; place in hot skillet with olive oil; brown slightly for about 10 minutes. Add onion, mushrooms (well cleaned and sliced), garlic, salt and pepper; simmer for 15 minutes. Add tomato puree and bay leaf. Cover pan; cook slowly for 1 hour. Remove bay leaf.

Cook rigatoni about 20 minutes in 5 quarts of rapidly boiling salted water. When tender, drain and place in baking dish. Add sausage and sauce. Mix. Sprinkle with grated Pecorino cheese. Bake in moderate oven about 10 minutes.

Serve very hot. Serves 6.

This little cookbook is a gem. It's a little Bantam paperback that I think will be one of my favorite Italian cookbooks and I have several Italian cookbooks. It had 40 printings by the 70s but it may be out of print now. There may be more than one book with this title. The author of this one is Maria Lo Pinto.

I almost thought this recipe would be too simple but the sausage provides more than enough flavor. I made the sauce two days ahead of time, then I just heated it up when I cooked the pasta and threw it all together on the night we ate it. It wasn't complicated but it was very good.

Well I can tell you now that the real reason I've been slacking off around here isn't the holidays but instead sheer exhaustion from making a baby. By July 4th, there will be another mouth to feed around here! I'm trying to keep up as best I can but I can tell you there has been at least one Stouffer's family entree on the table recently.

Posting will be sparse since I'm making mostly repeat Christmas cookie recipes this year, if I can even scrounge up the energy to do that.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Not the best start

I won't include the recipe because the first candy I attempted to make this holiday didn't turn out anywhere near to how it should have and it was all my fault.

Well actually I can tell you the recipe, it was just 1 cup sugar, 1 cup dark corn syrup, 1 tablespoon vinegar cooked without stirring to 300 degrees and then stir in 1 tablespoon baking soda. Pour into buttered 13x9 pan (don't spread, it won't fill the pan completely), then crack into pieces when cool and dip in chocolate.

This was similar to a Nigella recipe which uses honey but her recipe just boils 3 minutes. My candy thermometer is wonky and I got impatient and didn't wait for it to get to 300 degrees (it had been cooking way longer than 3 minutes) so instead of crunchy light candy I got chewy, Bit-O-Honey- like candy, without the honey and almonds. Not that bad really but not quite as flavorful at Bit-O-Honey.

I wrapped the candy in wax paper but I'm not sure if it will end up with my treat packages. I don't want to be sued for dental work. It's not any more chewy than Bit-O-Honey, Mary Janes or some types of taffy but I'm not sure what people would be expecting when they bite into this.

I was ready to call it a day but after cleaning up I decided to go ahead and start my Chocolate-Dipped Caramels. They came out perfect this year. I overcooked them last year but they were just right this year. You know what the secret was? I remembered to turn on some Christmas music, something I forgot to do when I tried to make the other candy. I put on my favorite Christmas CD that my online friend Tammy burned for me for a Christmas swap a few years ago and all was right.

It's going to be a crazy week so I probably won't be around every day. I'm sure a lot of my readers won't either. I can't believe it's almost Christmas!

Question of the Day: What is your favorite Christmas CD?

Friday, December 14, 2007

From my favorite cookbook
--Skillet Chili Mac

Skillet Chili Mac
The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook Copyright 2006

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound ground beef I used ground turkey
1 onion, chopped medium
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped medium
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin I used about 1/2 tablespoon
8 ounces macaroni (2 cups)
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can tomato puree
1 cup water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
8 ounces Colby cheese, shredded

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the beef and cook, breaking up the pieces with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Drain the beef through a fine-mesh strainer, discarding the fat.
2. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the skillet and return to medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion, bell pepper, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir in the macaroni, tomatoes in their juice, tomato puree, water, brown sugar and drained beef. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, about 20 minutes.
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the Colby evenly over the top, cover until the cheese melts, about 3 minutes.

This is the cookbook that I recommend most. In fact, it's the only one I ever find myself recommending. I recommend it for beginners or anyone who just wants to start cooking more. Most people will recommend the Joy of Cooking (snore) or Betty Crocker (not bad but I don't have the sentimental attachment to it that many people do) but this is my pick. It's modern, it has detailed instructions, great pictures, a sturdy ring-bound binder design. It's definitely not packed with gourmet recipes (it's a Family Cookbook) but you could find recipes for family or company in this book.

This was great chili mac. I held back on the cumin a bit as I normally do but I think I could have added it all and not minded it. I should trust ATK - they usually know best. Well, I don't always agree with them, that would be odd, but they certainly do put a lot of thought and effort into their recipes and product recommendations.

I missed my regular grocery night due to bad weather. I was prepared but now I have to go a day later and I still don't have my list done. I'm feeling the holiday crunch. Maybe Stouffer's will take over my kitchen next week. Darn, I don't think I have room in my freezer for frozen dinners.

Blast From The Past: Easy Dill Pickles from June 2007. I miss those pickles. I can't wait to get my hand on pickling cukes again.

Question of the Day: What's your favorite cookbook?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I love capers!
--Greek Chicken with Capers and Orzo

Greek Chicken with Capers and Orzo
Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2006 Copyright 2005

1 cup uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta) I used more
Cooking spray
12 ounces chicken breast tenders I used breasts, cut into strips
1 tablespoon salt-free dried Greek seasoning blend mine wasn't salt-free
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic I used fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt I omitted this
1 large red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions

Cook orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.
While orzo cooks, heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; cover and keep warm.

Combine Greek seasoning and next 5 ingredients (through salt); set aside.

Recoat pan with cooking spray. Add bell pepper, and sauté 2 minutes. Add onions; sauté 1 minute or until peppers begin to brown. Return chicken to pan. Stir in caper mixture, tossing gently to coat chicken. Spoon chicken mixture over orzo. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

I came up with this recipe at the last minute. I had everything to make it except the lemon juice so I was going to use bottled key lime juice but I ended up having to go to the grocery store for something else so I picked up the lemon.

I can't believe I went all these years not knowing how much I love capers. I have to find more recipes where I can use these salty little gems. If you don't care for them, I think this recipe would still be very good but you won't find me leaving them out.

The only thing I might do differently next time is to cut the chicken into even smaller pieces. I prefer that since the flavor from the sauce really gets into the chicken that way.

I think the weather is going to screw with my grocery night. That's okay since that gives me a little more time to plan. I need a super-easy week of menus next week.

Blast From The Past: Deep-Dish Chili Pie from February 2006. That might fit the bill for next week.

Question of the Day: Do you like capers?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The last of the pork
--Barbecue Pork Pot Pie

Barbecue Pork Pot Pie
Easy Pies With Pillsbury Crusts Copyright 2004

1 Refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box
1 Container (18 oz) Lloyd's refrigerated fully cooked shredded pork I used homemade pulled pork
1 1/2 cups frozen southern-style diced hashbrowns
1 1/2 cups frozen corn ,thawed
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (6 oz) I used Cabot's 50% light

1. Heat oven to 425. Make pie crust as directed on box for one-crust baked shell using 9 inch glass pie pan. Bake 5 - 7 minutes or until very lightly browned.

2. Remove partially baked crust from oven. Spoon half of the shredded pork into crust. Top with potatoes, thawed corn and half of the cheese. Spoon remaining shredded pork over top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover edge of crust with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning.

4. Return pie to oven; bake 30 -35 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Cut into wedges.

Okay, I didn't let this rest before cutting it. I was too impatient. So the picture is a little bit sloppy but it cut cleaner after it rested a while.

I made this because I had a pie crust from Thanksgiving left over and I had pulled pork in the freezer. I wasn't terrible excited about it until I took the first bite. I can't vouch for this with the Lloyd's since I think I've tried it and it's not as good as my homemade pulled pork. I'm disappointed that I've used up all of that pulled pork.

I have no idea what I'm making for dinner tomorrow night! Well, it's going to be chicken breasts but I have no idea what I'm going to make with it. I had Chicken Piccata on the menu but I forgot to buy lemons.

Blast From The Past: Chicken Marsala with Mushrooms from October 2007. Maybe I'll make this tomorrow night but without the mushrooms. I had some mushrooms leftover from the kabobs the other night but I tossed them thinking I wouldn't be able to use them before they went bad.

Question of the Day: What are you having for dinner tonight?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hard to go wrong with kielbasa
--Grilled Kielbasa Kabobs with Pineapple

Grilled Kielbasa Kabobs with Pineapple
American Profile Hometown Recipes For the Holidays Copyright 2007

1 pound kielbasa sausage, cut into 22 pieces
18 whole mushrooms
1 large green bell pepper, cut into 18 cubes
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces (18 total)
One 20-ounce can pineapple chunks, drained, 18 pieces, reserving remaining chunks for later use
1/3 cup olive or canola oil
1½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice all I had was key lime juice
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Salt and black pepper
Brown rice or couscous

1. Preheat a grill or the broiler to high. I used my GF grill.
2. Thread six 12-inch skewers, alternating the sausage, vegetables, and pineapple. Combine the olive oil, mustard, lemon juice and soy sauce in jar. Season with salt and pepper. Secure the lid and shake to blend thoroughly.
3. Place the skewers on the grill rack and brush with half of the sauce. Cook for 6 minutes, turn, brush with the remaining sauce. Cook until browned, about 4 minutes.

I don't know why I bothered threading all of this stuff onto skewers. I really hate threading food onto skewers. I mean, it would be one thing if I had been presenting it to guests but we just took it off the skewers before we ate it. I could have toss everything in the sauce and tossed it all on the GF grill. Of course, I might have had trouble keeping it all from sliding off the grill. I REALLY want a Griddler. They don't slant, do they?

I loved the sauce, marinade or whatever this technically is. I enjoy practically everything with Dijon mustard, especially since I found a brand that I really like.

I used the pineapple juice in the brown rice along with some soy sauce and that went well with these kabobs.

Blast From The Past: Smoked Sausage Skillet from July 2007. Mmmm that had Dijon mustard in it too.

Question of the Day: Do you realize that Christmas is just two weeks away??!!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

'Tis the season not to cook Fa La La La La La La La La

I didn't want a pictureless post so I included a picture of a favorite cookie from last year, Coconut Butterballs.

This weekend I didn't really do any cooking. I did make a batch of Gingerbread Syrup, which I planned on using to make a clone of Red Robin's Gingerbread Shake for my husband, who pouts when I won't let him order one (it just isn't fair since our peanut-allergic son can't order dessert when we eat there - we can't trust desserts anywhere). I didn't get around to making the shakes but the syrup turned out well. It can be used to make Gingerbread Lattes too. I got these recipes somewhere on the internet. I forgot to note the sources.

Gingerbread Syrup
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Make the gingerbread syrup by combining water, sugar, ginger, cinnamon and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Be sure the pan is not too small or the mixture could easily bubble over.

2. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat and simmer syrup, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Remove the syrup from the heat when it's done and slap a lid on it.

Gingerbread Shake
1½ oz. gingerbread syrup
2 oz. milk
1 tablespoon Graham Cracker crumbs
14 oz. vanilla ice cream

Blend syrup, milk, ice cream.
Garnish with whipped cream, Graham Cracker crumbs, and a gingersnap.

I also picked up some frozen sausage and pepper calzones in Costco. They were excellent. Packed full of sausage. Terribly decadent of course, but dinner was just those with some spaghetti sauce. The leftovers will be fought over.

That's it. I know I'm not the only one busy this time of year so I won't continue to go on and on about nothing.

Question of the Day: Have you had a gingerbread shake or gingerbread latte?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Some mistakes, still good
--Hot and Sour Pork with Cabbage

Hot and Sour Pork with Cabbage
Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2007 Copyright 2006

1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into strips
1 tablespoon cornstarch, divided
½ teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon water
½ cup ketchup
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon Siracha (hot chile sauce, such as Huy Fong) I had the one with garlic
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon peanut oil I used canola oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
12 cups coarsely chopped cabbage (about 2 pounds)
1/3 cup chopped green onions

1. Combine pork, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, white pepper and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
2. Combine 2 teaspoons cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl, set aside.
3. Combine ketchup and next 3 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.
4. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork mixture and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Remove pork from pan; set aside. Add cabbage to pan; sauté 2 minutes. Add ketchup mixture; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in pork; sauté 1 minute. Stir in cornstarch mixture; cook 30 seconds or until thick. Remove from heat. Stir in onions.


Well actually I think I just made one mistake with this recipe. I cut the cabbage too big. It said 'coarsely chopped' so as you can see, my slices were kind of thick. Afterwards I noticed a note at the top that you can use bagged shredded cabbage which would be cut much thinner. I had to cook this much longer than the 2 minutes here and there that the recipe called for. I didn't like the cabbage I had either. Not enough green leaves, too much white stuff.

In the end, I was happy. It wasn't outrageously awesome but it was spicy and flavorful and rather healthy with all of that cabbage. It was a satisfying dinner.

My grocery bill continues to rise. I did stock up on butter since it was on sale for a good price and I'll need it for baking but that wasn't the only reason my bill was higher. Menu planning and shopping while tired is bad news! Even worse than shopping while hungry.

Blast From The Past: Stir-Fried Pork with Sweet Onions from June 1006. I almost forgot about that simple and delicious stir-fry.

Question of the Day: Have you ever cooked with Siracha (hot chile sauce)?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

It's that time of the year again!

Well I warned you that I might not have anything new to post one of these days. Last night we had a repeat of Skillet Chicken Parmigiana which I have been looking forward to since it got pushed off the menu last week.

So I thought this might be a good time to recap some of the cookies I've made for the holidays the past two years in case anyone was looking for holiday baking ideas. Here is a recap of my 2005 cookies (pictured above and pre-peanut allergy diagnosis so you will find the best peanut butter fudge recipe ever there).

Last year I tried a few new recipes, including Chocolate-Peppermint Snaps, Cherry Drop Cookies, Two-Bit Wonders, Coconut Butterballs, Five-Minute Fudge, White Fudge, and the oh-so-good Chocolate-Dipped Caramels.

A little while ago, I tested a recipe that will definitely make it into this year's line-up. Raspberry (Peach) Kisses were fantastic! For their ease, I'll probably do some Spritz Cookies too, making Christmas trees instead of pumpkins, of course.

Two recipes I've used as part of teacher gifts are Sour Cream Banana Bread and Chocolate-Chip Brownies (with Christmas Kissables on top). I really love that brownie recipe. It's very sturdy so they cut nicely and you can stack them nicely in wax bags that you can usually find in the dollar store.

I hope you get a few ideas from these recipe!

Question of the Day: Is there a cookie that you most associate with the holidays?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

These really hit the spot
--Whole-Wheat Pancakes

Whole-Wheat Pancakes
The American’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook Copyright 2006

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups buttermilk I used milk soured with vinegar
1 to 2 teaspoons vegetable oil I cooked them in butter

1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Set a wire cooling rack over a baking sheet and set aside.
2. Whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, melted butter and buttermilk. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour the buttermilk mixture in to the well and whisk gently until the buttermilk mixture is just incorporated (a few lumps should remain). Be careful not to overmix the batter.
3. Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Brush the pan bottom with 1 teaspoon oil. Using ¼ cup batter per pancake, add the batter to the skillet (only 2 or 3 pancakes will fit at a time) and cook until large bubbles begin to appear, about 2 minutes. Flip the pancakes and cook until golden brown on the second side, about 1 ½ minutes longer. Spread the pancakes over the wire rack on the baking sheet (they shouldn’t overlap) and hold in the warm oven. Repeat with the remaining batter, brushing the skillet with oil between batches.

I picked up some turkey breakfast sausage patties for cheap and they kept falling out of my packed freezer every time I opened it. This happened when I was trying to round out my weekly menu and I thought 'pancakes!'

The last time we had pancakes for dinner was almost two years ago. I don't know why we don't do it more often. Only my son ever has pancakes (frozen) for breakfast. I don't care for them for breakfast but I love them for dinner.

I was a bit ticked that when I stopped at the grocery store for buttermilk after work, they didn't have any. I don't like it when they don't have what I want! But no worries, the soured milk worked just fine. The batter was quite thick so these cooked up nice and fluffy.

Blast From The Past: Out-of-This-World Waffles from January 2007. I've made these so many times but with some whole wheat flour and wheat bran in place of the flour. My husband was on a waffle kick for breakfast for quite a while but I got tired of making them.

Question of the Day: Do you prefer pancakes or waffles?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Fast and yummy
--Hamburger Pie with Corn Bread Topping

Hamburger Pie with Corn Bread Topping
The Busy Moms’ Make It Quick Cookbook Copyright 2004

1 lb. extra-lean ground beef
1 cup frozen diced onions I used fresh
1 cup frozen diced green bell peppers I used fresh
1 cup tomato sauce
¼ cup water
¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons chunky-style salsa
1 cup canned corn kernels or 2 Tablespoons chopped green chiles, optional I used the corn
1 14 ½ oz. package fat-free honey corn bread mix I used 2 smaller pouches of regular corn bread mix

Spray large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add beef, onions, and bell pepper, cook, stirring frequently, until beef is browned and crumbled and vegetables are tender; drain well. Return beef mixture to skillet; stir in tomato sauce, water and salsa (and corn or green chiles, if using). Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray baking dish with cooking spray; spoon beef mixture into baking dish. Prepare corn bread batter according to package directions; let batter stand 5 minutes to thicken. Drop batter by tablespoons onto beef mixture and spread carefully to cover. Bake 15-20 minutes until corn bread is lightly browned and cooked through.

I know this doesn't look too pretty but I couldn't stop eating it. I'm a big fan of corn bread. This was like chili and cornbread all rolled into one. Very easy and delicious. You could play around with this, adding beans to stretch it out too. It seemed really juicy at first but the cornbread soaked it all up so it wasn't the big mess that I thought it would be.

I am soooo behind on the recipe lists. I really need to update those before the end of the year. I had gotten all caught up and then fell right behind again.

Blast From The Past: Beef and Potato Tex-Mex Hash from September 2006. Another quick and delicious recipe from this cookbook.

Question of the Day: What are you behind on?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Not very healthy but delicious
--Apricot Oatmeal Bars

Apricot Oatmeal Bars
William-Sonoma The Kid’s Cookbook Copyright 2000

¾ cup butter, cut up
2 teaspoons soft butter for greasing foil
1 cup firmly packed dried apricots
1 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Put the ¾ cup butter in a small saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until the butter is melted, about 2 minutes. Using a pot holder, remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside to cool.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with a large piece of aluminum foil (some foil hanging over the edges is fine). Light grease the foil with the soft butter. Using kitchen scissors, snip the apricots into about ½-inch pieces.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine the rolled oats, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Mix with a wooden spoon until well blended and no lumps of sugar remain.
4. Add the snipped apricots, melted butter and vanilla to the bowl. Stir until well blended. The dough will be moist and crumbly. Dump the dough into the prepared baking pan. Press the dough into the pan with your fingers.
5. Bake until the top is golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Using oven mitts, remove the pan from the oven and set on a rack to cool completely.
6. Lift the foil and the oatmeal bars from the pan and place on a work surface. Peel away the foil from the sides and the bottom. Using a small, sharp knife, cut the big square into 1 ½ -by-3-inch rectangles. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 18 bar cookies.

Okay, these aren't the healthiest treats with all that butter and sugar but they were good. Come on, butter and brown sugar? What could be better? The turkish apricots I used were very good too. Commercial granola bars aren't found in our cupboards since even the peanut and nut-free ones are almost always made on shared lines and I just don't trust them. So these would satisfy any granola bar cravings I might have and even though they aren't exactly healthy, every ingredient is recognizable. They would be good with raisins, dried cranberries or any other dried fruit of your choice. If nuts or peanuts aren't a problem for you, they would be great thrown in too.

I've been tired and busy and the result of that is my grocery bill is rising again. It requires a lot of focus to keep my grocery bill down and I just haven't had it lately. I need to regain control!

Blast From The Past: Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes from February 2007. I think I'm making pancakes for dinner one night this week. I got a deal on some turkey breakfast sausage patties.

Question of the Day: Do you eat granola bars? What kind do you like?