Saturday, August 30, 2008

Oatmeal Carmelita's (the wrong way)

I love carmel. And I'm always looking for carmel recipes. By the way, is it carmel or caramel? I got this recipe from Pilsbury. I was in a huge hurry while making them and just scanned the recipe before starting to put them together. It wasn't until I was over half way done that I figured out that I was not following the recipe. Oops! But I went ahead and continued and they turned out delicious. I'm wondering how the taste if they are made the right way though.
This is the recipe from Pilsbury... the steps in parentheses are what I ended up doing.

Oatmeal Carmelita's
2 cups All Purpose Flour
2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups margarine or butter, softened

1 (12.5-oz.) jar (1 cup) caramel ice cream topping (I only had a half jar so I used the half jar plus about 20 caramels melted with 1/4 cup evaporated milk.)
3 tablespoons All Purpose Flour
1 (6-oz.) pkg. (1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I left out the nuts)

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9-inch pan. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. In large bowl, combine all crust ingredients; mix at low speed until crumbly. Reserve half of crumb mixture (about 3 cups) for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture in bottom of greased pan. Bake at 350°F. for 10 minutes. (Here was my first big mistake. I pressed all of the mixture into the pan and baked for 15 minutes.)

Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine caramel topping and 3 tablespoons flour; blend well.

Remove partially baked crust from oven; sprinkle with chocolate chips and nuts. Drizzle evenly with caramel mixture; sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. (I swirled the chocolate chips and caramel together, and obviously didn't have any reserve mixture since I pressed it all into the pan.)

Return to oven; bake an additional 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1 hour or until completely cooled. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until filling is set. Cut into bars.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hazelnut Sour Cream Cake with Nutella filling and Hazelnut Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

I love hazelnuts... I LOVE nutella, and I love anything that is flavored hazelnut. I've been thinking about doing some kind of cake or cupcake with these flavors for a long time, and I finally got out my apron and baking pans and came up with this recipe. (With a little help from my friend Suz). I am so excited about this. I'm more of a "trying out different recipes that I find online, then making up my own recipe" kind of girl, but this was really fun... And absolutely AMAZING! Mmmmm.... It's a must if you like the hazelnut and nutella taste.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease your pans.

Hazelnut Sour cream Cake
1 box Betty Crocker Yellow cake mix

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup sugar

2 Tbsp powdered Hazelnut coffee creamer

3/4 tsp. salt

3 eggs

1 cup water

1/2 cup milk

2 tbsp. veg. oil

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla

Whisk the dry ingredients.

Mix thel wet ingredients in a separate bowl and pour dry ingredients into wet. Beat on low for 2 minutes.
Pour into 2 nine inch round pans.
Bake at 325 until done. I have a convection oven so mine only took 20 minutes, but I imagine on a regular oven it would be double that so around 40 - 45 minutes.

Nutella Filling
While cakes are baking melt 1/2 cup of nutella with 1/4 cup of milk in a sauce pan on the stove. Stir continually until smooth.
Pour over first round cake after cake has been cooled. Top with second cake.

Hazelnut Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening (I ONLY use Crisco)

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup powdered hazelnut coffee creamer

3/4 cup baking cocoa

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

4 cups sifted confectioner's sugar

3 tbs milk or heavy cream

Cream butter and shortening. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Add cocoa and hazelnut creamer. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat on low. (I add milk as I'm adding sugar, little by little). Keep icing covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.

For the topping I used crushed up Heath bars and mini Heath bars for the top. I'm guessing crushed hazelnuts would go well too.
Enjoy with a big glass of milk.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Pot 'O' Beans (for the cowgirl in you)

Growing up on a farm, we ate a lot of comfort cowboy food, and one of my favorites was my mom's big ole pot of beans with cornbread. My grandma also made a spectacular pot paired with her famous biscuits... Mmm.... just thinking about it takes me back to some good times.
So I decided to try my hand at a Pot O Beans. My kids liked the little pieces of bacon in it, and I sat at the table eating my beans in complete flashback mode. Love it when that happens.

Mom's Pot of Beans

1 bag of basic pinto beans
1 lb bacon
1/2 onion chopped
salt and pepper

Rinse the beans in a colander. Cover beans in water and soak beans in a bowl overnight. This releases a lot of the air bubbles.

Fill a big pot half-full with water and place it on the stove on medium heat. Add the beans. While the burner is warming up, add chunks of onion and the bacon. Add a couple tablespoons of salt. I've learned it's best to add a small amount of salt early, and then add the rest when you can taste the beans later.
Bring this to a boil and then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for three hours or so, adding water every half-hour or when you think it needs it.
Add salt and pepper before serving.

For a great combination try Amy's sweet cornbread.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Chicken pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Gorgonzola, and Pinenuts

Otherwise known as the most incredible pasta dish you will ever taste.
3 years ago, my little sister and I travelled to Europe and explored several countries. While we were in Paris, we found the quaintest most perfect Italian restaurant in all of France. Everything we ate there was delicious and we went back several times during our stay in Paris. One of the most divine dishes we had was a gorgonzola pasta that was absolutely to die for. And ever since we got back to the states we've been searching for a replica or at least a close version of this pasta dish. We've had no such luck.... until...

I went down to visit little sis and we decided that we had to make our own version, I found a recipe on line and then modified it until it became everything we wanted and more. My little sis and I are both pasta LOVERS and this pasta was absolutely incredible.
This is me and my little sis at La Bella Angela, the best restaurant we found in all of Paris.
Oh, oh, just seeing the picture brings back so many great memories... And yes, they had excellent desserts there too.

Okay, now on to this delectable Pasta dish.

1/ 2 cup chopped, drained, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (3 tablespoons oil reserved)
2 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (about 9 ounces total)

1/2 pound Penne or medium shell pasta. Using gnocchi is also an option. If you use fresh gnocchi use a full pound.
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (It has to be fresh, believe me on this one)
1/2 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
3/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (about 4 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped prosciutto
1/2 cup Parmesan
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

Heat 2 tablespoon oil reserved from tomatoes in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to skillet and sauté until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to plate and cool; do not clean skillet. Cut chicken into 1/2-inch pieces.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain pasta; transfer to large bowl.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon tomato oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; sauté until tender, about 1 minute. Add sun-dried tomatoes, chicken, basil, broth, cheese and prosciutto to skillet and bring to boil.

While doing all this, toast your pine nuts in the oven. I usually set the oven to broil, move the oven tray to the top, and keep a close eye on the pine nuts. They toast very fast!

Add sauce to pasta and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Top with pine nuts and parmesan and serve.

I've also thought about adding 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream to give it more of a saucy texture. Next time I will add the cream and see how it goes.

Look at this colorful plate of ingredients... Anything containing fresh basil, garlic, and sun dried tomatoes has GOT to be good.

Make enough so that you can enjoy it the next day too. We ate this pasta for 3 days straight and never got sick of it. When warming it up in the microwave, add a little bit of milk to make it smoother.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Mango Chicken Salad

I got this recipe from Picky Palate and I can't even begin to describe how delicious it was. Wow, the chicken and the mango really go well together. I couldn't get enough of it. It was absolutely delicious!! I will be bringing this salad for the next 100 or so potlucks that I go to. I absolutely love the mango in it. The flavors are phenomenal!

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ Cup onion, finely chopped
½ lb campanelle pasta noodles
¼ Cup finely chopped fennel (if you don’t have it, just use additional onion)
2 Cups grilled chicken breast, cubed
1 red or orange bell pepper, diced
1 ½ Cups quartered zucchini
3 Cups broccoli florets
2 mangos, peeled and cubed
½ bottle Kraft Tuscan House Italian Dressing or Zesty Italian, 16 fl oz size
Couple pinches kosher salt

1. Heat oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions and fennel for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to low and cook until golden. Let cool for 10 minutes. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and place into a large bowl with the onions/fennel. Toss in rest of ingredients, gently stirring to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.