Tuesday, June 25, 2013

California Sandwich

Oh Man!  I so wish I could take credit for creating this sandwich, but I can't.  I sure am grateful to who ever thought of combining these simple and fresh ingredients in to making this. 
It. Is. So. Good.  {end of statement}
Whatever else you had planned for today, change those plans - make this sandwich instead. 
I didn't add the cheese to mine, it didn't need it.  I ate mine on a piece of toasted multi-grain bread.  It would also be good as a wrap. 
I just might cry: it is so good! 
Here is the link to the original recipe, and the following picture was taken by Rebecca Crump at ezrapoundcake.com I do not claim rights to this picture, but it is lovely so I used it.

1/4 c. Greek yogurt or mayonnaise, or 2 Tbsp. of each
1 Tbsp. finely chopped chives (I used green onions, because that is what I have)

1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
1 tomato, diced
1 cucumber, seeded, peeled, and diced
Squeeze of lime juice (I used about 1 Tbsp.)
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro or basil, chopped (I used cilantro, again, it's what I had)
4 slices whole grain bread or 4 small tortillas
1/4 c. alfalfa sprouts
2 - 4 slices pepper jack cheese
Salt and Pepper

1.  In a small bowl combine the yogurt, chives and salt and pepper; set aside.
2.  In a separate bowl, toss together the avocado, tomato, cucumber, lime juice and cilantro.  Season with salt and pepper; set aside.
3.  If desired (and I recommend it), toast the bread slices.  Spread yogurt mixture on all four bread slices.  On two of the four bread slices layer the cheese, alfalfa sprouts and avocado salad.  Place other slice of bread on top. 
4.  Try not to laugh out load with joy.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

I don't remember how I stumbled across this recipe, but I sure am glad I did.  Chocolate chip cookie dough and a cream cheese type filling: right up my ally.  They are soft and wonderful.  I halved the recipe that I found here  and cooked it in a 9X9" pan for about 30 minutes.

Simply put:  You. Are. Welcome.

My family ate nearly half the pan in less than 5 minutes.  I could have single-handedly eaten the whole pan, I am currently having to restrain myself (thus, why I am blogging, so I don't cave in and lick the dish clean)

2 (18 oz) refrigerated cookie dough
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1.  Preheat oven to 325.  Lightly grease a 9X13" baking pan.
2.  With one package of cookie dough tear apart and sprinkle over the entire bottom of the pan.  (Spaces between cookie dough are ok and preferred).  Lightly pat down.
3.  In a separate bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and eggs until creamy (little chunks of cream cheese are ok).  Pour mixture over cookie dough in pan.  Spread evenly over cookie dough.
4.  With remaining cookie dough, tear apart and sprinkle over cream cheese mixture.  As before, spaces between cookie dough are ok.  Lightly pat down.
5.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until even light browning on top or toothpick comes out clean.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cold Garlic Noodles

The night that we had our 'Guilty Pleasures' Recipe night one of my healthy friends brought this dish.  It is super light tasting and perfect for summer dinners.  I double the sauce and marinate my chicken in half of it before grilling, using the other half for the noodles.  The chicken is optional so this could also be a great vegetarian dish.  Use any sort of noodle you would like, I use whole wheat spaghetti.

8 oz. angel hair pasta -- cooked and drained
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. oil
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. minced cilantro
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. mined garlic
1/2 lbs. chicken or turkey breasts (optional)
1/4 lbs. snow peas, trimmed
1 carrot, julienned

1.  Blend lemon juice, oil, soy sauce, cilantro, sugar, and garlic.  Pour over pasta and toss.  Stir fry or charbroil chicken then slice into thin strips.  Toss the chicken and veggies with the pasta.  Chill.

You can double the sauce if you are serving the next day.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sarah's Salad

During the summer a simple salad is the perfect solution for dinner.  My friend Sarah sent me this recipe.  We had it last night with Buttery Pan Rolls and Grape Salad.  The whole family enjoyed it and will keep the recipe around.

1 head of lettuce - chopped
1 bunch of spinach - washed well
3/4 lbs. sliced mushrooms
1/2 lbs. bacon - cooked and crumbled
1 thinly sliced red onion
3/4 lbs. grated Swiss cheese
3/4 c. chopped cashews

3/4 Tbsp. poppy seeds
1/3 c. white vinegar
3/4 c. oil
1/3 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. yellow mustard
3/4 tsp. salt

1.  Blend all dressing ingredients in blender for a minute or 2, until very well combined.  Refrigerate until ready to serve the salad.
2.  Toss all salad ingredients together then add enough dressing to coat.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Hazelnut Caramel Chocolate Bars

Stop. The. Presses.   THESE ARE SO GOOD!
My family loves Nutella.  The delicious chocolate hazelnut spread.  You know the one: the one you want to lick the spoon after using it to spread on it's edible medium. 
I saw Rachel Allen on our local PBS station making these bars and knew it was destiny.  Unfortunately, neither she, nor the PBS station had this recipe on their website so I had to search the web and found them here.  The recipe is written in British, but fortunately, I happen to own an electronic kitchen scale so I used it to measure my ingredients, then I wrote down the American measurements, and I present them to you. 
These are chocolate-y, hazelnut-y, caramel-y and yummy.  The base layer lands somewhere between a chocolate shortbread and a brownie, the caramel layer is studded with awesome, toasty, crunchy hazelnuts, and the chocolate glaze on top is exactly what the doctor ordered. When my oldest son tried them he said it is heaven in his mouth. 
Here are the 2 slight problems I had:  
1.  Cooking the caramel too long.  I think that if I had stopped at minute 11 the consistency would be much better.  I cooked mine for the full 15 minutes because it still hadn't gotten to a 'dark caramel colour', however, it had entered somewhere into the stage between 'firmball' and 'hardball', it is chewable but quite sticky.  Next time I will for sure take it off the heat at minute 11 to ensure more of a caramel candy consistency. 
2.  The butter fat separated from the candy.  I had to pour it off of the caramel before I spread it on the chocolate base layer.  I suspect it has to do with the amount of butter. 
Neither of these issues are a big enough deal for me to never try making these again, I love having Heaven in my mouth.

14 Tbsp. butter
3/4 c. cocoa powder
1 2/3 c. fine sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/4 c. flour

9 Tbsp. butter
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbsp. corn syrup
1/4 c. + 3 Tbsp. fine sugar
4 1/2 oz. hazelnuts, toasted and halved (here is how to peel hazelnuts)

7 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1.  Preheat oven to 325.  Line or grease the bottom of an 9X13 inch baking pan.  Set aside.
2.  In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter for the chocolate base, stir in the cocoa powder and then the sugar mix until smooth.  Remove from the heat and stir in the eggs, a little at a time, whisking vigorously to avoid scrambled eggs, until mixed and then mix in the flour (it will be quite thick).  Spread the chocolate base over the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes, until the top is firm.  Remove from the oven and set aside to cool while you make the hazelnut caramel layer.
3.  In a medium sized saucepan and over a medium heat, melt the butter; add the condensed milk, corn syrup and sugar.  Turn the heat to low and stir continuously for 12-15 minutes unto the mixture is dark caramel colour - do not let it burn.  Remove from the heat and stir in the nuts.  Spread evenly over the chocolate base and allow to cool.
4.  Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a bowl sitting over a saucepan of simmer water (also known as a bain marie). When it is melted, stir in the oil and then pour over the caramel layer and smooth out, leaving to cool and set.
5.  Cut in to squares.
6.  Try to not inhale the entire pan.

These will keep for a week in an airtight container.

Pork Carnitas

You know me: I love to eat pig. 
I had 4 lbs. of pork loin in the freezer and decided to try a new to me pork recipe.  I found this one and it sounded really tasty.  And it was really good !  It makes a lot of meat, far more than the stated 6-8 servings.  But I used this for several days as tacos, enchiladas, and in rice bowls; I took the rest and put it in the freezer for later use.  This recipe is a keeper.
Here is the link to the site where I found this recipe.

2 1/2 - 3 lbs. pork loin roast
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. beef bouillon granules or 1 cube crushed
dash salt
dash pepper
1/2 c. orange juice
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, optional

1.  In a dry skillet, sear all sides of the roast until brown.  Set aside.
2.  In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, bouillon, salt and pepper.  use the mixture to coat all sides of the seared roast.
3.  Place roast in a slow cooker and cover with any of the brown sugar/spice mixture.
4.  Add the orange juice, lime juice, soy sauce, and cilantro to the bottom of the slow cooker.
5.  Cook on low for 8-9 hours or high for 5-6 hours.
6.  Remove roast and shred.  Place shredded roast back in slow cooker to absorb cooking juices.
7.  Serve meat in tacos, burritos, quesadillas, or enchiladas.

Yield: 6-8 servings