Sunday, October 16, 2016

Mom's Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

I have 3 versions of Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar recipes.  One is from here Katie added to a comment under a Choc PB bar Eileen posted.  One is in my hand writing, from Mom's house before I got married (1 1/2 sticks butter, 18 oz PB, 1 pack Graham crackers, 1 LB confectioners sugar)  and then I have a 3rd off of a Nestle's chocolate chip package.  As a non chocolate lover, I don't make them often however, whichever one I've used in the past (2 or 3 times) they came out very crumble.  The bars didn't hold together, I was quite disappointed with the results.  Therese has requested them and I'd love to bring them with us next Saturday for Parent's weekend.  Can someone who makes them regularly confirm the recipe? 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Smoky Maple-Mustard Salmon Recipe (Low Sodium)

Last night, I made this salmon dish with the mustard maple sauce from eating well.com, Smoky Maple-Mustard Salmon Recipe. It was simple and delicious. Everyone enjoyed it. We are carefully watching sodium in my house, so this coming in at 276 mg of sodium is great!






INGREDIENTS 


  • 3 tablespoons whole-grain or Dijon mustard 
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup 
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika or ground chipotle pepper (see Notes) 
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (*obviously could be omitted, but because it is so low even with this, I kept it in.)
  • 4 4-ounce skinless center-cut wild-caught salmon fillets (see Notes) 

PREPARATION 


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray.
  2. Combine mustard, maple syrup, paprika (or chipotle), pepper and salt in a small bowl. Place salmon fillets on the prepared baking sheet. Spread the mustard mixture evenly on the salmon. Roast until just cooked through, 8 to 12 minutes. (*I turned the broiler on for the last minute or two of cooking which gave the sauce a really beautiful look and tasted great!) 

  • Notes: Smoked paprika is made from smoke-dried red peppers and adds earthy, smoky flavor. Look for different types of paprika at some large supermarkets or at tienda.com or penzeys.com. 

  • Chipotle peppers are dried, smoked jalapeño peppers. Ground chipotle chile pepper can be found in the spice section of most supermarkets or online at penzeys.com. 

  • Wild-caught salmon from the Pacific (preferably Alaskan) is considered the best choice for the environment because it is more sustainably fished and has a larger, more stable population. Farmed salmon, including Atlantic, should be avoided, as it endangers the wild salmon population. For more information, visit Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch at seafoodwatch.org. 

  • NUTRITION


    Per serving: 148 calories; 4 g fat (1 g sat, 2 g mono); 53 mg cholesterol; 4 g carbohydrates; 3 g added sugars; 23 g protein; 0 g fiber; 276 mg sodium; 434 mg potassium.
    Nutrition Bonus: Omega-3s 
    Carbohydrate Servings: 0 
    Exchanges: 3 lean meat


I served it with brown rice and steamed asparagus with balsamic glaze. Both of those dishes had no sodium, so the total count  was the 276. 
Side Note: The brown rice without salt or butter or being cooked in broth (as I often do) was really bland and boring, so we'll play with that a little more. I did find a no salt added broth so perhaps we'll try that next time. If anyone has a great flavor, low-sodium rice recipe, please share. I do like cilantro, lime and garlic mixed into my rice, but that only goes with certain dishes. I guess I'll have to play with it. 


One of the biggest lessons we are learning is to check every label, because not only are we surprised by what ingredients have a lot of sodium, we have also been pleasantly surprised by the ones that are very low or even 0. Those are the things we will focus on having on hand to perk up things that seem a bit more boring. 

Overall, this one is a keeper!



Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Dig in to this delicious Butternut Squash Lasagna

I love cooking with the seasons. And fall is all about comfort food for me. I love the colors, taste and feel of the root vegetables that are so prevalent. We received a butternut squash from our CSA last week and I was determined to do something fun with it. 


I have had lasagna noodles in my pantry for ages that I hadn't used, so I decided to do a butternut squash lasagna. I looked up a few different recipes, but none of them seemed just right to me. Also, I had no ricotta in the house and I didn't want to go to the store. So, I chose 3 of my favorite recipes and combined them, and played with them, and voila, created a new favorite Butternut Squash Lasagna recipe. It was a huge hit! 

Side note, as my husband was eating leftovers of the lasagna for lunch, he said to me, "I could eat this everyday. Forever." Pretty high praise!



  • 1 Butternut Squash
  • 1 Box lasagna noodles
  • 1 cup marinara sauce (homemade or jarred)
  • 1/4 c. roasted red pepper, pureed (homemade or jarred)
  • 1 handful of basil leaves, chopped
  • 6 sausage links
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 6 Tbsp Butter
  • 1/4 c Flour
  • 6 cups milk
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

 


Step 1: Make Butternut Squash Puree

Cut Butternut Squash in half.
Brush with olive oil.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake face down at 400 degrees for 1 hour. 
When done, let cool enough to be able to handle.
Scoop insides out, place in bowl and mash.
Set aside.

Step 2: Cook Lasagna Noodles

Boil one box of lasagna noodles according to directions.
I really find spreading out the cooked noodles on a baking sheet or parchment paper drizzled with olive oil makes a huge difference in the finished product.

Step 3: Make Roasted Red Pepper Marinara Sauce

Blend marinara sauce with roasted red peppers.
Mix in chopped basil.
Set aside.

Step 4: Make Filling

In a hot pan over medium-high heat, sautee garlic and onion in olive oil. 
Remove sausage from casings and add to pan. 
Once cooked, remove to a bowl and mix with butternut squash. 
Set aside.

Step 5: Make Bechamel Sauce

Melt flour in a sauce pan over medium heat. 
Whisk flour into melted butter. Continue cooking over low heat, while whisking. You do not want to let the flour brown.
Slowly whisk in milk, raise heat to medium. 
Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking continuously until thickened (about 10 minutes). Add salt and pepper to taste, reduce heat to low and continue cooking another 5-10 minutes. When complete, set aside.

Ready to Assemble (from left): Butternut Squash Sausage filling, cheeses, red sauce, bechamel, lasagna noodles.

Step 6: Put the Lasagna Together

In a 9x13 dish, place a thin layer of Bechamel Sauce.
Add about 5 lasagna noodles on top of sauce, slightly overlapping.
Top with 1/2 of the Butternut Squash Sausage filling.
Top with 1/4 c each cheese
Top with a thin layer of Bechamel Sauce
Add another layer of noodles, Butternut Squash Sausage filling, cheese, Bechamel Sauce.
Top with an additional layer of noodles, Bechamel Sauce, Roasted Red Pepper Marinara Sauce and remaining cheese. 

In the midst of layering: Bechamel, noodles, Butternut Squash Sausage filling


Bake
Cover with foil. Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes. Uncover for the last 5-10 minutes. Let sit for about 10 minutes before cutting. Serve hot.


It was a multi-stop process, as lasagna tends to be, but so worth it! You can easily prep this in stages and can make up to a day ahead to have it ready to pop in the oven for when you need a delicious, hearty meal. You can also bake it ahead and store in smaller serving containers to be available for dinners on the go. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Fall Dinners from the Slow Cooker

Every fall with back to school and the return of fall sports schedules I struggle with dinners. I do love to use my crockpot, both for the sake of convenience, and for the comfort food meals that we all love as the weather begins to change. 

I just saw this post for 15 Fall Dinners from the Slow Cooker from theKitchn.com and thought I'd share. 

It looked like some new ideas, as well as some new twists on old favorites. 

The recipes included in the post are:
1. Curried Vegetable and Chickpea Stew
2. Slow-Cooker Vegan Pumpkin Curry
3. Slow-Cookier Chicken Burrito Bowls
4. Slow-Cooked Bolognese Sauce
5. Slow-Cooked Brisket & Onions
6. Slow-Cooker White Chicken Chili
7. Slow-Cooker Sausage & Spinach Lasagna
*the only time I tried lasagna in the slow cooker, I did not love it. Not sure I'll try it again.
8. Slow-Cooker Chicken in Milk
*Hmmm.... We'll have to look at this one a bit. Sounds a little bizarre to me.
9. Slow-Cooker Black Bean Enchiladas
10. Slow-Cooker Korean Short Ribs
11. Slow-Cooker Tuna Noodle Casserole
*I enjoy a tuna sandwich, but have never made a tuna casserole. Not sure I'm up for this one either. Plus, the picture has peas. (YUCK!) I'll probably pass on this one.
12. Slow-Cooker Pork Carnitas
*This picture looks so good to me! And I love, love, love pork carnitas!
13. Slow-Cooker Celery Soup with Bacon
14. Slow-Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup
15. Slow-Cooker Coconut & Green Curry Pork

I'll be sure to let you know what I try and what we think. Please do the same if you try any!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mom's Chocolate Decadence Party


My Daughter's School does a silent auction each year where the big deal is what we call Great Gatherings. So I hosted a Mom's Chocolate Decadence Party, Thanks Bridget for the name. It was a 4 course chocolate meal. It was a lot of fun to search for recipes, try them out and come up with the finial menu. Of course I was luckily enough to have Katie and Regina to consult. Katie also created the Beef Tenderloin En Croute with chocolate- port sauce, she used her beef en croute recipe and the chocolate - port sauce from allrecipe.com, the cheese and chocolate plate ideas came from canada but I used local cheeses. I had originally planned dipped bacon, but found snap guide with the chocolate bacon roses, they looked great but were hard to get the middle of the bacon cooked all the way.  The only recipe I really created was the Balsamic Chocolate Brussels Sprouts.A week before the party Molly asked for Aunt Katie's Balsamic Brussels Sprouts, while make them I thought of the party and decided to melt white chocolate with the butter and coat them.


Appeitzers





Salad/pasta course


Main dish

Beef Tenderloin En Croute with chocolate- port sauce (see above) 
Balsamic Chocolate Brussel Sprouts (see above) 


Drinks

Wine


Deserts


Chocolate Fudge
Chocolate for dipping served w/fruit

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Chocolate Peanut Butter Martini

This winter, my husband, my friend Katie and I tried out a little fun with our favorite combination - chocolate and peanut butter (really, we all really really love it! Yeah, who doesn't...).  The result was a silky, smooth, delicious chocolate peanut butter martini. To. Die. For. 

I posted a picture of the martini on Facebook and got so many likes, comments and requests for the recipe, I had to share it! 

Place in shaker with ice: 
1 part Godiva Chocolate Liquer
2 parts Reese's infused vodka
1 part (or less if you don't like too sweet) pb simple syrup
Shake, strain into martini glass. 
mini peanut butter cup garnish (I actually used the dark chocolate ones from Trader Joe's. So good!)

**For Reese's infused vodka -- melt 1/3 cup Reese's mini pb cups in a double boiler. Once melted, remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of vodka. Pour into glass jar, store in freezer. Shake before using. You want it chilled before you use it.

**Pb simple syrup -- dissolve 1 c sugar in 1 c water, add 3/4 c pb and melt together over low heat. Heat until syrup consistency. Can store in a squeeze bottle or mason jar. You can strain this if you have any pb chunks in it.

As Katie noted is often the case with martinis, 1 is not enough; 3 is too many. Luckily, she could walk home.;) Seriously, this is a decadent, delightful treat. Cheers.

Monday, May 4, 2015

SPRING HAS SPRUNG! ENJOYING SEASONAL COOKING

Yeah grilling weather!
After a long, cold winter, we are really embracing the beautiful, warm weather. Like so many, we are anxious to get outside and soak up the sun. Any excuse to be outside will do - whether is is sitting at the sports fields, or at home bike riding, gardening, reading or cooking -- we are doing as much of it as possible outside. Oh yeah, for us, this warm weather effects our eating and cooking, and tends to mean grilling, sandwiches and salads!

I thought I'd share a few of our recent grilling successes with you.

On Saturday, we enjoyed grilled steaks, 
Caprese SaladGreek Salad and smashed baby potatoes. For the potatoes, I steamed some new baby potatoes, once they were soft, I tossed with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Then, I laid them out on a foil-lined baking dish, took my potato masher and lightly smashed each one. I placed in a 400 degree oven until the tops got slightly browned and crispy. So delish!

On Sunday, we enjoyed pork ribsI finally feel like I got our ribs right! I sprinkled the racks with little Montreal seasoning, wrapped tightly in foil and popped them in the oven (275 degrees) for 2 hours. They were tender and fragrant. Almost  good enough to eat right then... but we waited. We grilled the ribs to get a nice char on them, basting with bbq sauce at the end of the cooking time. The ribs were awesome!
We paired the ribs with corn on the cob (really sweet and delicious for the first of the season!) and a Greek salad again (we seem to be on a bit of a kick!).

Grilled sausages, peppers, onions and portobellos
Monday was once again another beautiful day. I cannot resist fresh fruits and veggies in the warm weather. And growing up, warm days often meant "wedges" (or heros, subs, hoagies, sandwiches, whatever you call them). One of my Dad's favorites was sausage and peppers, so with a nod to Dad, that is just what we did. I started off some Mild Italian pork sausage and chicken sausage with tomato and basil in the oven, then finished them off on the grill. 


I tossed a variety of veggies -- mini peppers, portobello mushrooms and onions with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper and added them to the grill. Once I took the veggies of the grill, I drizzled them with a little balsamic glaze. We paired the grilled sausages and veggies with kale salad and cole slaw.


Happy Cinco de Mayo!
In honor of Mexican Independence AND Taco Tuesday, today we enjoyed a household-favorite  -- Honey Lime Shrimp Tacos
For the marinade, I combined about equal parts honey, lime juice (I squeezed 3 limes) and olive oil. To that, I add the zest of one lime, minced garlic and a splash of tequila. Then I add in handfuls of chopped cilantro. I always add in handfuls of chopped cilantro. I went a little heavier on the lime juice and a little lighter on the oil. If don't want to use tequila, you could use white wine or broth. I choose tequila. Place shrimp in marinade and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes. 


Marinating Honey Lime Shrimp
Take the shrimp out of the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Heat a grill pan over med-high heat. No oil is needed because of the oil in the marinade. Cook the shrimp on one side until they start to curl and get opaque in the center and pink on the edges, then flip over and cook on the other side. They get a beautiful caramelized color from the honey, but you do need to watch them or they will burn. These are great with any taco fixings or over rice or salad. Today, we served them with soft and hard taco shells, guacamole, black bean and corn salsa and a salad

I find with cooking I go in spurts, so my recent successes have inspired me, but I do not know what is up next for the week. I have some zucchini and green beans in the house, so it will likely be something with them. 

What are you making this week? Hope you are enjoying a little warm weather eating!

My hubby's artsy grilling photo



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