Sunday, December 26, 2010

Homemade Granola Bars

I will never buy granola bars again now that I have discovered how very tasty and easy they are to make at home.  I like to put a morning snack in my purse for those times when I am about to go sit in a two hour meeting at work and my stomach is grumbling for lunch. There is nothing more embarrassing than stomach growls in a quiet meeting. OK, I guess there could be some things more embarrassing!

I found this recipe while browsing through one of my cookbooks called A Taste of Oregon which was gift, I believe from my best friend in the early '80s.  It was published by the Junior League of Eugene. It is chock full of wonderful recipes, many using local ingredients easily found in Oregon such as seafood and fresh vegetables.

This is one of those very adaptable recipes where the extra additions can be anything that suits you.  I chose to add chopped pecans, shredded coconut and dried cranberries.  It was a wonderful combination of ingredients.  The other variation I made was to use treacle, an English golden syrup, instead of the honey.  It adds a light molasses taste which is just delicious. 

This will be a recipe I will make again and again.
Granola Bars

3/4 cups butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups granola cereal
2/3 cups chopped nuts, coconut, dried fruit, seeds

In a 3 quart pan melt butter, then add brown sugar, honey, vanilla and salt;  stir until blended.  Stir in granola and extra goodies of your choice.  Pour into a well greased 10 x 15 inch pan.  With your hands, press in firmly to form an even layer.  Bake uncovered in a 400 degree oven until browned and bubbly, about 10-15 minutes.  Watch carefully because these get dark quickly.  Cool slightly and cut into bars while still warm.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Easiest Candy Ever

Okay.  I've not been very inspired to cook as of late.  I began a new job a few weeks ago and it is taking all the energy I can muster to take in all that I have to learn.  Because of that, my weekends have become a precious commodity, not to be spent cooking and then having to clean the kitchen (that's the part I am trying to avoid!)

Anyway, I felt I had to get into the spirit and make at least one holiday goodie and this is what I came up with; a tremendously easy white chocolate/peppermint bark.  Here's the recipe and the variations are what ever you feel like throwing on top of a sheet of melted chocolate.
White Chocolate Peppermint Bark

1 lb. premium white chocolate
1 cup crushed peppermint candy

Slowly melt chocolate over a double boiler or even easier, put it in a microwave container and set the timer on 30 seconds.  Stir, put in for 30 seconds more, stir, etc. until it is almost entirely melted then just keep stirring until it is completely smooth.
Pour melted chocolate onto a sheet pan and spread evenly.  Sprinkle the peppermint chips on top and let cool completely.  Take sheet of chocolate out of pan and cut into bite size pieces.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hasselback Potatoes

This blog is dedicated to Patti, Peggy, Robin and Debbie, my peeps in high school.   The recipe today is Hasselhoff Hasselback potatoes.  When I first read the name of these Swedish-style baked potatoes, my very favorite soap opera star of all times, David Hasselhoff immediately came to mind.  I know I'm not alone in voting him the sexiest of daytime stars from the early years of the 1970's, right girls??
We would race home to watch Dr. Snapper Foster in our fave rave soap opera, The Young and the Restless and swoon.  All of the other TV doctors paled in comparison.  Who needed Dr. Steven Kiley on Marcus Welby or Dr. Joe Gannon on Medical Center when Snapper Foster was curing all that was wrong in Genoa City?   And there was plenty wrong! 

WHAT HAPPENED???  Poor, pitiful David Hasselhoff can't catch a break these days.  It all went down hill after the infamous hamburger eating incident, caught on video by one of his "loving" daughters.  Who amongst us hasn't gotten the munchies after having a cocktail or two and felt the need to shove an entire hamburger into our gaping maw, all at once?  And now his newest TV venture, a "reality" show was cancelled after only one episode.  Oh well, we will always have our memories of Snapper Foster - a teenage girl's fantasy doctor.

Now on to the recipe.  Very simple.  The tricky part is cutting the potatoes into slices without going all through the other side.  I stuck a couple of chopsticks on either side of the potato and cut through until I hit them and didn't slice through once.  The results were lovely, crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside, slices of yummy potatoes.  This is a wonderful alternative to the boring old baked potato that often accompanies our meatloaf dinner.  Enjoy and thanks for indulging me in my walk down memory lane.

Hasselback Potatoes

Medium size baking potatoes.

Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Garlic slivers, onion slivers, any spices you'd like to sprinkle on your potatoes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Wash potatoes well. Lay each potato on a cutting board.
With a sharp knife, thinly slice each potato, being careful to not cut all the way through. (Tip: I lay a chopstick on each side of the potato so I don't accidentally cut too far.)
Season each potato.  You could get creative, slide a sliver of garlic between the layers, experiment with different herbs, butter, use whatever might sounds good to you.

Place potatoes in a baking dish that has been drizzled with olive oil. Drizzle potatoes with olive oil.  Bake at 425 degrees for 40 min, or until the inside is tender.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Turkey Leftover Alternative

For a nice change a pace from turkey, turkey and more turkey, how about some Chinese food.  This recipe comes from one of my favorite Asian cookbooks which I have mentioned before called Steamy Kitchen by Jaiden Hair.  It incorporates many styles of Asian food including Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and even Philipino.  The recipes are easy to follow and the photos are amazing.  The author also has a wonderful food blog by the same name.

This particular recipe caught my fancy and though it was really simple to make, it does take four different bottled sauces. These include soy sauce, oyster sauce, Chinese black vinegar and Chinese rice wine, plus I used sesame oil to saute in.  Luckily when I went to my local Asian market I was able to find the three that I didn't have for very reasonable prices and these bottles should last awhile.  I did splurge on the meat and purchased a boneless rib eye but considering this made three servings from one steak, it was worth it and oh so tender!

Stir Fry Beef Broccoli

1 lb top sirloin or flank steak, sliced into 1/8-in strips

For the marinade

1½ teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon cooking oil

For the Stir-fry Sauce

3 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
2 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar

For the Broccoli

1 broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic

Marinate the beef in soy sauce, cornstarch and the ½ teaspoon of oil for 10 minutes at room temperature.

In a small bowl, mix together the stir-fry sauce ingredients.

In a wok or large frying pan, add 1 inch of water and salt and bring to a boil. Add the broccoli and cover to steam for 3 minutes. Broccoli should be bright green, crisp tender and you should be able to pierce the stem with a fork. Drain.

Discard the water in the pan and dry the pan well. Heat the pan over high heat and when hot, add the 1 tablespoon of cooking oil and swirl to coat. Add the garlic and fry for 15 to 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the steak strips, keeping them in one layer and fry 30 seconds. Flip the strips and fry the other side.

Pour in the stir-fry sauce and stir to combine. Simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat a back of a spoon, about 30 seconds. Add the cooked broccoli back into the pan and toss to coat well.  Serve over hot Jasmine white rice.