Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Samoa Brownies

I love dinner gatherings.  I especially love dinner gatherings where I've asked someone else to make the dessert. :)  I'm almost never disappointed!  When I might throw together an apple crisp or a quick batch of cookies, they would go above and beyond and whip up something like this.  A little slice of heaven, thanks to Jen.  It was pretty scrumptious, just don't count calories... or steps involved. :)

1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 stick salted butter, cold and cut into pieces
Box of Ghirardelli Brownie Mix (or other mix that only makes a small pan), plus ingredients to prepare
1 cup coconut, toasted
11 oz bag of caramel bits
1/2 lb dark chocolate almond bark (or a couple cups of dark chocolate coating wafers or candy melts)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a 7 x 10 pan (or 8 x 8 if you don’t have that size) with foil and spray with nonstick spray.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar and butter until a dough forms. Alternately, you could use your hands and cut it together until it forms a dough. Pat dough evenly into the bottom of the pan and bake for 15-20 minutes or until light golden brown.
3. Place the pan in the refrigerator to cool for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare brownie mix according to box directions. Once crust is cool, spread the brownie mix in the pan and place back in the oven until brownies are fully baked.
4. Place caramel bits in a microwave safe bowl and melt according to package directions. Stir in the toasted coconut and spread evenly over the brownies in the pan. Place pan in the refrigerator to chill.
5. Once brownies are chilled and firm, remove from pan by grabbing the sides of the foil. Peel the foil from the brownies and cut into squares. Melt chocolate coating according to package directions and dip the bottom of the brownies in the coating. Place on a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper to set. Once all brownie bottoms are dipped, drizzle remaining chocolate over the top. Let chocolate firm before serving.
To toast coconut, place in a cold skillet. Heat skillet over medium heat, stirring coconut constantly. Remove from heat once it’s lightly browned.
I prefer using Caramel Bits instead of whole caramels because they melt more quickly and don’t need unwrapped. You can find them in the baking aisle with the chocolate chips.
If you don’t want to use Ghirardelli Brownie Mix and instead prefer a mix or recipe that makes a large 9×13 pan, just double the crust and topping recipes and adjust baking times if needed.
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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Carne Asada Torta

Happy Veintidos de Mayo!... I missed "cinco," so here it is a bit late.  I love Mexican food--however I'm shy of heat--oxymoron? Yes, I know.  I recently ate at a local Mexican restaurant and was delighted to find the perfect dish for me.  It was not too hot, not over-priced, not too big, but substantial, lots of flavor and texture, and basically just AWESOME!  So of course, after eating there twice and closely savoring this dish, I set out to recreate... because I'm cheap like that. :)  Here is what I came up with, and besides the melt in your mouth bun they had it in and the avacados, I'd say I came pretty close.
Beef Carne- I found it a while back, reduced at WINCO.  I cooked some of it up to make taco meat, but was disappointed by the fatty texture, so I froze the rest of it and tried to forget it was in my freezer.  THEN,  it came to mind when I set to recreating this dish. I definitely came a little closer to what I think beef carne was intended to become.  Something about that texture and flavor is perfect for this.  It's hard to get an exact recipe because I did a lot of "that and that" experimenting, but I got some ideas from here and hopefully this will give you the general idea in case you want to recreate a bit of heaven on your plate at home, too... because you're cheap like that. :)

Carne Asada Torta (By Lyd)
2 lbs beef carne (basically shredded skirt steak)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 Serrano chilies, de-seeded and minced (to taste) (If you don't love that inevitable pepper burn in your eyes or somewhere, you can use cayenne or Tabasco, but sauteing the pepper with the onions would really enhances the flavor.)
1 tablespoons minced garlic
1 onion chopped
juice of 1 limes (I ended up using about 1/4 cup lime juice)
1/4 cup minced cilantro
1 teaspoons honey or sugar
1/2 teaspoons coriander
1 teaspoons oregano
1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoons ground cumin seed
2 teaspoons kosher salt
black pepper to taste

Saute chilies, onion, and garlic in heated oil. Add beef and other ingredients, simmer on medium low heat for at least 15-30 minutes until meat is cooked and has absorbed the flavors. (I simmered on low for longer- I think almost an hour.) 
Assemble meat on bun with condiments and watch while your wildest dreams come true... in your mouth.

toasted bun, buttered with a bit of garlic salt (I used french bread, because it's what I had, but it didn't work real great for wrapping your mouth around. :)
fresh salsa
beans (pinto, black, or re-fried)
lettuce or finely chopped cabbage
avacado (which I was dreaming of, but alas was missing... but it was pretty much the only thing.  Mmmmmm...)
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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Banana Cream Pie (Healthy-er)

As you can see, this fabulous banana cream pie wasn't sitting around long enough for a big photo-shoot.  It was unbelievably delicious. You might recall my "Woman, make me a pie... right now!" post.  Well, on my birthday, I asked Doug to make me a pie right now (from scratch) and... HE DID!  I printed out a (healthier) recipe I've been wanting to try for a while--absolutely no idea why I would put it off.  I think this was the best darn banana cream pie I've had!  It was great.  I think part of that is because my husband follows instructions very closely and carefully... I on the other hand have probably become a bit cavalier in my baking. :)  And in my picture taking too apparently... but I assure you, not in my eating of pie.  Savored every minute.  It was a happy birthday indeed.

Banana Cream Pie (Ellie Krieger)
Cooking spray
12 graham cracker squares (6 full sheets)
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
3 tablespoons boiling water
1/3 cup, plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups 1 percent lowfat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups sliced banana (3 medium bananas)
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Click here to see how she does it.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
(We just skipped this step and used a pre-made crust.) Spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray. In a food processor, process graham crackers until finely ground. Add butter and 1 tablespoon of water, and process until the crumb clumps together. Press crumb mixture into bottom of pie plate and about 1/2-inch up the sides. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then let cool.
In the meantime, make the filling. Put the gelatin in a small bowl; add 3 tablespoons of boiling water and stir until gelatin is dissolved. In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1/3 cup of sugar and the flour. In a medium bowl lightly beat the milk and eggs together. Add the egg and milk mixture to the saucepan and whisk so the flour and sugar dissolve. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes, until mixture comes to a boil and has thickened. Stir in the vanilla extract and gelatin. Set aside to cool slightly.
Arrange the sliced bananas on the graham cracker crust and pour the pudding on top. Place in the refrigerator until the pudding has set, about 3 hours.
Whip the cream with an electric beater. When it is about halfway done, add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, then continue whipping until fully whipped. Put the whipped cream in a plastic bag, concentrating it in 1 corner of the bag. Snip that corner off the bag and squeeze the whipped cream out of the bag in a decorative pattern around the pie.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Baked Pita Chips


I bought two packages of pitas from the "day-old-bread" section for $1, knowing I could put them to good use.  Turns out I was right.  These pita chips were easy to make (so easy that my five year old did it-- hence the uneven seasoning, but hey... I won't turn down the help. :) and they became the quick tasty star of our dish.  Delish!  (*Also great for dips like hummus etc.)

Baked Pita Chips (
12 pita bread pockets
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon Italian herbs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Combine pepper, garlic, salt, onion powder, and herbs in a small bowl. Brush the pita with olive oil.
Cut each pita into triangles (like slicing a pizza).
Sprinkle with or toss in seasoning mixture.Place triangles on lined baking sheet.
Bake for about 7 minutes, or until lightly browned and crispy. Keep an eye on them - they go from perfect to burnt in a matter of seconds.
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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Barb’s 10 Grain Muffins

If you know me, you know that I'm always up for a hearty, high fiber muffin in the morning.  One of my favorite breakfasts!  I just made a fresh batch of my Three-Grain Muffins yesterday.  It's a really good recipe- makes a huge batch- which I like. :)  But I realized I had made these a while back and forgotten to post the recipe, so here is YET ANOTHER muffin recipe coming your way. :)

"I love Bob’s Red Mill 10 Grain cereal. On the bag was a recipe for some muffins. I made them. OK, but not great. So I did what any other creative cook would have done, I futzed. Trial and error resulted in a fiber-filled muffin that was delicious, moist, kept well in the freezer and best of all, didn’t have the consistency of sawdust."

Barb’s 10 Grain Muffins (

  • 1 XL egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I use turbinado)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill 10 Grain Cereal
  • 1 1/4 cups sour milk or buttermilk  (to sour milk, mix a generous teaspoon of vinegar into 1 1/4 cups milk)
  • 1 large ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup dried coconut (can substitute sweetened & flaked coconut if necessary)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Prep enough muffin tins to make 14-16 muffins (line with paper, use silicone liners with no-stick spray, etc.)
Combine cereal and buttermilk and let stand for 10 minutes.
Cream sugar, butter and egg. Add banana. Mix well.
In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Add to egg mixture along with the soaked cereal. Mix until just combined.
Spoon into prepared muffin cups.  Bake approximately 12-15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool in pans for 10 min, then on a rack until thoroughly cooled.
These freeze very well.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Honey and Brown Sugar Ham Glaze

I know I'm a bit late for the Easter Feast... or I suppose I could say I'm just early for next years. :)  Either way, here it is.   I thought this glaze was super simple to make, stuff you have on hand, and it brought big returns in flavor!

Honey and Brown Sugar Ham Glaze (
2/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon prepared mustard

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl and brush over the ham. As the ham cooks, occasionally brush it with the extra glaze.
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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Good Eats Meatloaf

It is nigh unto impossible to make "pretty" meatloaf; (I won't mention what the above picture brings to mind) however, it is possible to make "pretty tasty" meatloaf.  Alton delivers again. :)  This is hearty, and with the added veggies, dare I say healthy... er.  I do like the sauce on the top. :)  Sometimes I just get in the mood for a good meatloaf... and was so happy not to be disappointed.

Good Eats Meatloaf (Alton Brown)
6 ounces garlic-flavored croutons
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, peeled and broken
3 whole cloves garlic
1/2 red bell pepper
18 ounces ground chuck
18 ounces ground sirloin
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg

For the glaze:
1/2 cup catsup
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Dash hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon honey

Heat oven to 325 degrees F.
In a food processor bowl, combine croutons, black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and thyme. Pulse until the mixture is of a fine texture. Place this mixture into a large bowl. Combine the onion, carrot, garlic, and red pepper in the food processor bowl. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped, but not pureed. Combine the vegetable mixture, ground sirloin, and ground chuck with the bread crumb mixture. Season the meat mixture with the kosher salt. Add the egg and combine thoroughly, but avoid squeezing the meat.

Pack this mixture into a 10-inch loaf pan to mold the shape of the meatloaf. Onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, turn the meatloaf out of the pan onto the center of the tray. Insert a temperature probe at a 45 degree angle into the top of the meatloaf. Avoid touching the bottom of the tray with the probe. Set the probe for 155 degrees.

Combine the catsup, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and honey. Brush the glaze onto the meatloaf after it has been cooking for about 10 minutes.
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