Friday, April 29, 2016

Rum Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

What's in a name?  The perfect dessert!  Rum and chocolate just sound decadent....add in pecan pie and top it off with the fact that I can pick this up in my hand, because it's a bar....makes this dessert wonderful for so many occasions!

And, if that wasn't's easy! Did I say easy?  I mean, really easy!

Give them a try and let me know what you think!

Rum Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¾ cup butter (1½ sticks), cubed and chilled
¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
1 cup light corn syrup

3 tablespoons spiced or dark rum
¼ cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ cup chopped pecans
1 cup chocolate chips (milk chocolate, semi-sweet or dark)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 13” x 9” baking pan.

Combine crust ingredients with a pastry blender (or two forks) until crumbly.  Press into pan.  Bake crust for 15 to 17 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Whisk brown sugar, eggs, corn syrup, rum, butter, vanilla extract and salt until well blended.

Sprinkle pecans and chips evenly over the crust.  Carefully pour sugar mixture over pecans and chocolate chips.

Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until edges are set and bars are golden brown.  Center will still be “wiggly”.

Cool and cut into bars.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Tex-Mex Apple Pies

Just to warn you....I'm about to say something that will astound you....I love to cook!  I know....that's hard to believe!

But, I really love the whole process of cooking!  Starting with just an idea of an ingredient, or a cooking technique and then creating a recipe around that idea.

Putting together the basics and then adding in seasonings, spices and herbs.  Experimenting with measurements and flavors.  

Some things work together and, trust me, some things don't!

Finishing with the end result....what kind of plate?  How should the food be displayed?  What kind of garnish?

Then, serving my food to someone.  The offering of my food to someone else fulfills such a basic need in me.  That simple gesture is so satisfying.

But, the very best part of the cooking process for me?  It's when someone recreates one of my recipes. Whether they follow the recipe exactly, or change it up and make it their own.  I cannot express, in words, how that warms my soul. How blessed I feel that someone would want to use their valuable time and make one of my recipes.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

And, that brings me to Tex-Mex Apple Pies.  I created this from what I had in the house at the time for the November, 2012 edition of Sylvia's Kitchen!

Tex-Mex Apple Pies

1 can (20 - 22 ounces) Apple Pie Filling, slightly mashed with a fork
½ cup of water*
½ cup (1 stick) butter
½ cup of white sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
6 (8 inch) flour tortillas
Ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 9 x 13” baking dish.

In a small saucepan, bring water, butter, sugars and cinnamon to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Wrap tortillas in a dampened paper towel and heat in microwave for 30 seconds, to make them pliable and easy to handle. (this step may not be necessary, if your tortillas are easily rolled)

Add ¼ cup of apples to the bottom third of tortilla, fold sides in toward apples and roll up the tortilla from the bottom.  Place in prepared pan, seam side down.  Continue for each tortilla.

I cut the basic recipe in half, used just two
tortillas and a smaller dish to feed two people
Pour the sugar mixture over the top of the prepared tortillas, sprinkle with ground cinnamon.  Let pan rest for 20 – 30 minutes to soak up the sugar mixture.

Bake for 25 minutes, uncovered. 

Serve warm with ice cream.  Drizzle with the caramel sauce left in the baking dish. 

Serves 6

*Want to make this more “adult”, use ¼ cup rum, plain or spiced, and ¼ cup water in place of ½ cup water.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Chicken with Peanut Sauce

I'm a big fan of Thai food....and if it includes peanut sauce, I'm a happy girl!

This is an easy recipe that uses rice noodles, but, don't be afraid to substitute cooked pasta, Shirataki noodles or rice! Try adding some other veggies, too!  Steamed broccoli, roasted asparagus, peas or water chestnuts would all give this dish an appetizing crunch!

Chicken with Peanut Sauce and Rice Noodles
8 ounces rice noodles
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, skinned and rough chopped*
2 cloves of garlic, skinned and sliced
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
1 – 2 teaspoon Sriracha (or to taste)
2/3 cup water
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 tablespoon canola oil
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
6 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/3 cup chopped peanuts (I use salted)

In a large bowl, place rice noodles and cover with very hot water.  Set aside to allow rice noodles to soften.

In a blender, add peanut butter, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, Sriracha and 1/3 cup water.  Turn blender on high, adding more water, as needed, to make the peanut sauce.

In a medium sauté pan, over medium high heat, heat canola oil.  Add chicken and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Sauté chicken until all pink is gone.  Reduce heat and add peanut sauce.  Bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 – 10 minutes to finish cooking chicken.  Add more water, if necessary.   Taste sauce for additional seasonings, adding more Sriracha or lime juice, if desired.

Drain rice noodles and mix with peanut sauce and chicken.

Place in bowls and garnish with scallions and peanuts.

Serves 4

*The easiest way to remove the skin from the ginger is to use the edge of a spoon and scrape off the skin.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Dutch Apple Pie Bars

With a chewy and delicious base, apple filling and sweet streusel topping, you would think there could be no improving on this easy dessert....but, add some caramel sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you have elevated this scrumptious sweet treat to near perfection!

It's an easy dessert to pull together at the last minute and, with simple, common ingredients, you just might have everything you need, already in your kitchen!

Dutch Apple Pie Bars

1 yellow or butter boxed cake mix
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/3 cup milk or cream
1 can (20 ounces) prepared apple pie filling
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Caramel ice cream sauce (optional)
Vanilla ice cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Liberally butter a 7” x 11” baking dish.

In a large bowl, beat together the cake mix, ½ cup butter and milk or cream until well blended, then beat for another 60 seconds.  Spread into bottom of baking dish.

Spread apple pie filling over batter, leaving a ½ inch of batter around the edges.

In a small bowl, mix together melted butter, flour, oats, brown sugar and cinnamon until well blended.  Sprinkle evenly over the apple filling.

Place baking dish on the middle rack and bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until lightly browned along the edges.

Allow to cool slightly, cut into 8 – 10 pieces and serve drizzled with caramel sauce and ice cream, if desired.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Grilled Ham, Cheese and Fried Egg Sandwich

I like to bike....
(actually, I LOVE to bike)

I bike for many reasons....
I bike for exercise....
I bike for my health....
I bike for my sanity....
I bike for the challenge....
I bike for the peace it brings to my thoughts....
I bike to burn calories (so, I can eat more of my favorite foods)....
I bike for inspiration....

Often, that inspiration comes in the form of food creation (how to replace all those calories I'm burning), such as this Grilled Ham, Cheese and Fried Egg Sandwich.
YES!  A double yolk!  Must be my lucky day!

Around the 10 mile mark on my morning bike ride, I started thinking about breakfast. Usually, my breakfast includes an egg....6 grams of protein, 13 essential nutrients AND only 70 calories! But, today, I was feeling like MORE! And, there is something to be said about a breakfast sandwich!

So, I let my mind wander, while still keeping track of the traffic around egg, over-easy with ham and cheese on firm, white bread and then grilled!  That sounds perfect!  

For the next 10 miles, that's what I thought about, that sandwich....grilled to perfection, with the runny yoke and melted cheese....just, get me to the kitchen, please!

The creamy mayonnaise mixes
with the melted cheese
Something you will note about this grilled sandwich....I don't use butter on the outside, I use mayonnaise. Mayonnaise has fat and egg protein and creates a beautiful golden crust, not to mention, it tastes great!

Grilled Ham, Cheese and Fried Egg Sandwich

1 large egg
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1 - 2 slices of cheese (I used Provolone)
2 - 3 slices of ham (I used Black Forest)
2 slices of firm, white bread (or whatever kind of bread you like)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon horseradish or to taste (optional)

Heat a small saute or fry pan over medium heat.  Spray with non-stick cooking spray and crack the egg into the pan. Season with salt and pepper.

The perfect dipping sauce!
Cook egg until the whites reach your desired doneness, flip egg to lightly cook the top, or until you reach YOUR perfect level of yoke doneness (I like mine over easy....lots of runny goodness).

Remove egg from pan and set aside. Spread one side of each slice of bread with a small amount of mayonnaise. Place one slice of bread, mayonnaise side down, in pan. Spread a thicker layer of mayonnaise on the exposed side of the bread and spread the horseradish on the mayonnaise.

Layer cheese and ham on top and place the fried egg on top of the ham. Finally, cover with the remaining slice of bread (so the exposed side of the bread can soak up the yoke) with the mayonnaise side facing up.

Grill bread until golden brown on the bottom, flip and continuing grilling until golden brown on the top.  Remove to plate, cut this sandwich in half and let all that runny yoke goodness flow out.

If you don't like horseradish, don't use it, add some mustard or other favorite condiment!