Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars

For the past 2 years my Mother has done an awesome job in selecting cook books as Christmas presents. This year it was Ania Catalano's Baking with Agave Nectar. I am having so much fun working through this book! This latest recipe was very, very good. I highly recommend these bars, and if you haven't yet used agave nectar as a sweetener, give it a try. You will be pleasantly surprised!

Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars
1/2 c. unsalted butter or non-hydrogenated butter substitute (I used coconut oil)
1 1/3 c. whole wheat pastry flour
pinch of sea salt
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 c. light agave nectar
2 t. vanilla extract
2 T. whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 t. sea salt
3 ripe bananas, mashed (I used 2 very large)
3/4 c. walnuts (I omitted)
1 c. grain sweetened chocolate chips or carob chips
1 c. dried, unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To make crust use electric mixer or pastry blender to cream butter flour and salt. Press lightly into 9x13 baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes.
To make filling add filling ingredients together and pour over crust. Bake an additional 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool , then cut into bars. Store in refrigerator.

Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce

I searched everywhere for ideas for spring rolls. I pretty much came to the conclusion that you can fill them with whatever you like! These were delicious. The dipping sauce must be what people eat in heaven!! Enjoy, but keep in mind you can easily change these up with different veggies to suit your own taste.

Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce

For the rolls:
cellophane noodles
6-8 sheets of rice paper
3/4 cup carrots, thinly sliced
3/4 cup cucumber, thinly sliced
splash of lemon juice
splash of soy sauce
fresh spinach

Prepare noodles as directed on packaging. Combine carrots and cucumbers in a bowl and toss with a little lemon and soy sauce. Soak rice paper in shallow dish of water for about 10-15 seconds or just until starting to soften. Only soak and fill one at a time. Place desired amount of spinach leaves on paper. Top with about 3 T. of carrot/cucumber mixture. Roll tightly like a burrito. Chill slightly in fridge. Slice in half to serve.

Peanut sauce

4 T. creamy peanut butter
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T. water
2 T. Olive oil
3 T. Soy sauce
1/8 t. fresh ginger, finely grated
1 T. plus 1 t. honey

Whisk all ingredients together and serve along side spring rolls in ramekins.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cinnamon Cheesecake Squares

I found this recipe on the blog The Obsessive Cook. Tracey gave this recipe rave reviews and I knew I had to try it! She was right- these are delicious and everyone that tried these agreed. I will be making this again for sure! The coolest part of this recipe is that I know Tracey in real life. Go check out her blog :)

Cinnamon Cheesecake Squares
2 pkg. crescent rolls (I used reduced fat)
2 pkg. cream cheese (I used reduced fat)
1 T. vanilla
1 c. plus 1/2 c. sugar
1 T. cinnamon
1/2 c. butter, melted

Cover bottom of greased 9x13 pan with 1 pkg. crescent rolls. Combine cream cheese with vanilla and 1 c. of sugar. Spread over rolls. Cover cream cheese mixture with second pkg. of crescent rolls. Drizzle melted butter on top. Combine 1/2 c. sugar with cinnamon and sprinkle over butter. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Cool and chill to serve.

Salsa Chicken

This is one of my favorite crock pot recipes. It is incredibly easy and everyone in the family loves it. The leftovers are great as well.

Salsa Chicken
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (optional)
15 oz. jar salsa
10 oz. frozen corn
1 can (or 2 c. ) black beans, drained ***
1 pkg. reduced fat cream cheese

In crock pot layer chicken, salsa, beans and corn. Cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high or 3-4 hours. With 30 minutes left, add cream cheese. Do not stir. After 30 minutes stir and serve over rice.

***I always use dried beans. They are much cheaper and have no sodium. I cook large batches on the stove top, then freeze the beans in 2 cup portions. The beans are ready for recipes--1 can= approximately 2 cups.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Veggie Burgers

After having an amazing veggie burger at a local restaurant- I've decided to try to recreate it! Here is what I came up with I think next time I will use less rice and more veggies. This made 6 burgers.

Veggie Burgers

1 cup vegetables of your choice (I used zucchini, carrots and red pepper), diced
1/4 c. onion
1 clove garlic
1 cup cooked rice
1 cup cooked black beans
2 T. peanut butter
a few drops of liquid smoke
1 egg
bread crumbs
salt and pepper
oil for cooking

Cook onion, pepper and garlic in a little oil. Add carrots- cook until just tender then add zucchini. In bowl, mix rice and beans, mashing them as you mix. Mix in vegetables, egg, peanut butter and spices. Use your hands to shape the mixture into balls. Roll the balls in bread crumbs, then flatten against your palms. Fry for 2-3 minutes per side, until crispy. Serve open faced on whole wheat rolls. These would be great with garlic-lemon mayo.

Greta's rating: She loved these and so did baby Miles.

Seven Flavor Beef

I made this meal for friends and everyone loved it! The cook time was about 10-15 minutes and it tasted amazing. I will definitely be adding this one to our list of regulars. The recipe is from the Food Network.

Seven Flavor Beef

8 oz. sliced flank steak
1 T. minced lemongrass
1/2 t. minced fresh ginger
1/2 t. minced garlic
1/2 t. fish sauce
1/2 t. sesame oil
1/2 t. honey
1 t. dried chili flakes
1 t. Chinese five-spice powder
1 t. salt

1/4 c. sliced red onion
1/2 bunch sliced green onion
1 c. bean sprouts
2 T. hoisin sauce
1 T. ground peanuts
20 Thai basil leaves

Combine all marinade ingredients in a nonreactive baking dish for 1 hour. Marinade will not be runny, but more like a rub.

Heat oil in a wok and heat over high heat. When oil is hot, add red onion, green onion, and bean sprouts and sear for 1 minute, stirring. Set aside on serving platter. Add beef to very hot wok and sear until rare. Add hoisin sauce and toss until coated. Add ground peanuts and basil and cook until meat is medium rare. Serve meat over onions and bean sprouts. We ended up quadrupling the recipe for 4 adults and had very little left over. This meal is also great served over cellophane noodles.

Greta's rating: I didn't let her try this. It was way too spicy!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The original peanut butter cookie

Another fabulous recipe from baking blonde! I found this recipe about a month ago and I am embarrassed to say how many times we have made it since. These are truly delicious and are even wonderful with NO chips. Enjoy!

The Original Peanut Butter Cookie

1 cup + 2 T peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 T milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Peanut Butter chips (any chip combination is great, I've even used reese's pieces)
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips
3/4 cup Sugar (for rolling dough balls, may need more or less)

Preheat oven to 350.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the peanut butter, butter. Once combined beat in the white sugar, and brown sugar until well blended. Beat in the egg, milk, and vanilla.
In a large bowl wisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gently add to creamed mixture and mix until almost combined. Fold in chocolate and peanut butter chips. Chill dough for at least 15 minutes.
Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Genlty roll the dough balls into sugar and place dough balls on baking sheets. Carefully press each ball with fork tines to create a criss-cross pattern.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheets for 5-10 minutes until sturdy enough to be transfered to a wire rack to cool completely.