Thursday, July 31, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars

On a lovely day off of work a few weeks back I went on a little adventure to a farm outside of the city to pick my own strawberries.  It was glorious.  
Picking your own fresh strawberries is ten million times better than buying strawberries from the store.  The taste difference is astonishing.  Scary, even.  Plus, they are cheaper - win win!  It makes me never want to buy strawberries from the store...but unfortunately I probably will because the strawberry picking season is not year round. :( 
The only "problem" with picking your own strawberries is finding ways to use them quickly before they go bad (unless you freeze them).  We did not seem to have this "problem"!  In fact, we ended up just eating most of them just on their own.  However, I did make these delicious crisp bars with them...along with some surprise rhubarb we found growing in our back yard that we didn't plant!  Yay for free food left by previous home owners. :) 

If you have some leftover strawberries or rhubarb...I recommend giving this recipe a try!  Enjoy! 

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars

1 cup rolled oats
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup small-diced rhubarb
1 cup small-diced strawberries
1 tablespoon natural cane sugar, divided
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8-by-8 inch square pan with cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, mix the oats, flour, brown sugar, and salt. Add the butter and stir until clumps form. Set aside ½ cup of the crumble mixture and press the rest of the crumb mixture evenly in the bottom of the prepared pan.

3. In the same medium bowl, combine the rhubarb, strawberries, granulated sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Evenly distribute the fruit over the crust, then scatter the reserved crumbs over the fruit.

4. Bake the bars until the fruit is bubbling and the crisp portion is golden, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

Recipe adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Butterscotch & Chocolate Ice Cream

I hope you all had a happy 4th of July!  We had a wonderful weekend up north with some friends in a cabin on a lake.  I'm so grateful for the freedom we have in our country and for my family, friends, warm weather...and last but not least - ICE CREAM!  

If you love ice cream as much as I do - I highly recommend investing in an ice cream maker.  You can make so many different flavors and put in whatever candy, fruit, nuts, etc. that you want! It's like having your own "fro-yo" or "Coldstone" shop right in your home.  This particular recipe was more of a soft custard so if you're into that sort of thing...give this a go! 

I was lucky enough to be selected to participate in OXO's "#IceCreamforOXO" blog challenge.  For this challenge I received a whole box of OXO goodies including an ice cream scoop, spatula, mini chopper and more (see below)!  Thanks OXO! :)

Butterscotch & Chocolate Ice Cream

3 cups heavy cream
6 egg yolks
1-1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups butterscotch chips
½ cup dark chocolate chips


Whisk egg yolks with sugar until smooth.
In a saucepan, pour cream and bring it almost boil. Add butterscotch and chocolate chips and stir until it's all mixed together. Add vanilla extract to the saucepan.
Pour 1/2 cup of the butterscotch cream mixture to the egg mixture, whisking at the same time. Next pour the egg mixture back to the saucepan containing the butterscotch mixture and give it a stir. Put it back on stove and let it simmer for 5 minutes or until it looks thick like custard.
Once done, let it cool completely at room temperature, and then refrigerate it overnight.

Finally churn it in the ice cream machine.  Drizzle more chocolate on top if desired and freeze for a couple hours at least before serving.  

Recipe adapted from Playful Cooking 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Lemon Orzo & Asparagus Salad with Spinach & Feta

This tasty salad puts a unique spin on a typical pasta salad and is packed full of nutrients and flavor. It's also quick & easy and is delicious either hot or cold.  What more could you ask for?  Well, more of it..that's what.

 If you're looking for a great side dish to a summer meal or potluck - I recommend this! 

Lemon Orzo & Asparagus Salad with Spinach and Feta
Serves 4-6

1 cup orzo
½ tsp. salt for boiling water
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
8-10 asparagus spears, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup packed fresh spinach
Juice of 1 large lemon
1/3 cup feta cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium sauce pan, bring 4 cups of water to boil. Add the salt. Stir in orzo. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain orzo and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, sauté garlic in olive oil. Add in asparagus pieces. Sauté for 3-4 minutes. Stir in spinach. Cook until asparagus is tender and the spinach shrinks down.

Put the orzo in a medium bowl and add in the vegetables. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the orzo and vegetables. Stir. Season with salt and pepper. Taste-add more lemon juice if you wish.

Sprinkle feta cheese over the top of the salad. Serve warm or cold! 

Recipe adapted from Two Peas and their Pod 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Soft Pretzel Bites with Jalapeno Cheese Sauce

 Sometimes I just really want a soft pretzel.  Luckily, they are pretty easy to make at home!  I've made larger, more traditional soft pretzels in the past but this recipe was super easy and I liked making the pretzel "bites" because they make a good snack that is easy to share with a lot of friends!
 The cheese sauce is a little spicy with the jalapeno but I like spicy things so it was good to me - but feel free to adjust it if you like milder spice.  Also, I would probably adjust the amount of pepper next time because it was a little strong.  Overall the pretzels turned out great though.  These would be great for a party or snacks for your kids. Enjoy! :)

Soft Pretzel Bites and Jalapeño Cheese Sauce
Makes 24-30 pretzel bites

1 1/2 C warm water
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
6 tbsp. butter, melted
2 1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 -5 C all-purpose flour
1/4 C baking soda
3 quarts water
1 egg white
1 tbsp. cold water
coarse salt

Cheese Sauce:
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
3/4 cups milk
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1-2 tbsp. chopped jalapeno slices (canned)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Directions for pretzels:

Combine first 4 ingredients in a stand mixer and set aside for 5 minutes.  Add in salt and slowly add in flour, up to 4 1/2 cups until combined. Mix on low then increase speed until dough begins to form a ball and pull away from the sides. If dough still looks sticky, add a little flour.

Remove from the bowl and knead into a ball on a floured surface.  Drop olive oil into a bowl, and then place the dough ball in, covering in oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double in size. 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Bring water to boil in a large pot and add baking soda.

Divide dough into 4 sections and roll each out into a long strip. Cut 1-1.5 inches apart and roll into balls. Drop into boiling soda water for 15-30 seconds, about 10 at a time.
Spread onto a parchment covered cookie sheet.  Beat egg white and cold water together and brush on top of each pretzel ball then sprinkle coarse salt. Bake until brown on top. About 15-20 minutes but check every 5-10 minutes do make sure they don’t burn. 

Directions for cheese sauce:

Melt butter and stir in flour. Quickly add milk and whisk. Add garlic, pepper and jalapeño and then remove from heat. Immediately stir in the cheese until melted.  Eat right away!

Recipe adapted from Big Red Clifford