Wednesday, June 23, 2010

S'mores Bars

This recipe comes from Rebecca of Cooking With My Kid, who's actually a friend of a friend of mine, and who is on a mission to make 365 recipes in 365 days, with her kid. Although I like cooking with my kids, I still think it's an ambitious project.

When she posted this recipe, I knew I had to make these right away. Just Had To. After all, I'd bought all the ingredients for s'mores recently, but before we could make them someone ate all the Hershey's bars. Someone else snuck half a bag of marshmallows. And who knows who ate most of the graham crackers. It's just the way it works around here I guess.

Note: when opening a jar of marshmallow fluff at altitude, just for a "taste," be prepared to immediately make your recipe because it will just keep expanding and you won't be able to "taste" that much without making yourself sick. Just trust me on this.

I didn't do the shopping yesterday, and to be honest my entire grocery list was this:

1 large jar marshmallow fluff
2 king-size Hershey's Special Dark bars
1 box graham crackers

I took Rebecca's advice and planned to use dark chocolate from the start. So Number One brought home 4 bars of Hershey's Special Dark, in two sizes. I'm guessing that the 4.25 ounce bar is the "king size," but I didn't come to that realization until I already had the "giant size" bars unwrapped and discovered they wouldn't fit as neatly as Rebecca's had in the pan. Oh well, we've got some extra dark chocolate to eat!

Now that I'm thinking about it, I can't say I recall ever eating marshmallow fluff. I know that seems like blasphemy for a Midwestern girl like myself to admit, but I just don't remember it in my life. Of course I've seen the jars around, and of course when someone took that little taste, it tasted like heaven, but it didn't ring any bells. I didn't remember the stickiness, or anything. I do love it though, so I think that makes up for my possibly faulty memory.

The verdict:
These are very good, but dare I say it, with dark chocolate, I think you need to use MORE fluff. There, I said it. It really needs more fluff!! Next time, I will try it with milk chocolate, which is probably the more classic flavor, and maybe just a little extra fluff.

Let me know which chocolate YOU would use, and how you like them!

S’More Bars

Prep Time:15 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 to 35 minutes
Makes 16 squares

1 stick of butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (~7 full-sized graham cracker sheets, processed until fine)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 king-sized dark chocolate bars (*note: I believe "king-size" is 4.25 ounces. "giant-size" is too big, but will work if you use a little more than one bar. I know because we used "giant-size.")
1-1/2 cups marshmallow creme/fluff

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. (I used butter). Use an electric mixer to cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Set aside.

Meanwhile,whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to the creamed butter mixture until combined. Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan.

Place chocolate bars over dough. 2 king-sized Hershey’s bars should fit perfectly side by side.

Spread chocolate with marshmallow creme or fluff. Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff (most easily achieved by flattening the dough into small shingles and laying them together).

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. Be sure to cool completely before cutting into 16 squares.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Salsa Wraps

Tonight's dinner recipe comes from an unlikely source: an insert from a mailing about Diabetic Living Everyday Cooking. This is a cookbook I will NOT be purchasing, but this dinner sounded (and tasted!) great.

The recipe for Black Forest Trifle, however, made with "no-sugar-added, low-fat, fat-free" blah blah blah? Not a chance. That would just taste like a pile of chemicals to me. Good thing I lead an active life and am thankfully healthy.

So anyway, I decided to try this recipe, and I'm happy that I did. You'll probably be surprised when I tell you that I really don't like cilantro...but I had some from my Bountiful Basket-Mexican pack, so I added some. *Incidentally, if you happen to live in AZ, UT, ID, NV, TX, WA or WY, you should find out if Bountiful Baskets comes to your area! A $15 contribution gets you an assortment of fruits and veggies of excellent quality AND quantity! I also used tomatoes, a jalapeno, a lime and lettuce from my Bountiful Basket.

Back to dinner. These wraps are excellent. The only changes I made were to use real bacon instead of turkey, and of course real mayo instead of "light." Oh, and I didn't measure anything for the salsa, and I used more lime juice than they called for. No one can tell me how to make salsa! =)

* Since we didn't have any homemade tortillas, I used the last of our "uncooked" tortillas, browned and warmed them, then assembled the wraps.

H-Bomb ate his whole (half) wrap. Sawed Off disassembled his wrap, then cleaned his plate too.

Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Salsa Wraps
Makes 4 servings

2 large, ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh jalapeno pepper
juice of half a lime
a large pinch kosher salt (almost 1/2 teaspoon)
8 slices bacon
1/4 cup mayonnaise
4 10-inch flour tortillas
2 cups spinach or lettuce

For salsa, in a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, red onion, cilantro and jalapeno. Stir in lime juice and salt. Set aside.

Cook bacon according to package directions. Drain well on paper towels; cut bacon into large pieces.

To assemble wraps, spread mayonnaise over tortillas; top with spinach. Using a slotted spoon, spoon salsa over spinach. Top with bacon. Roll up tortillas. Cut each tortilla in half; two halves makes one serving.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Taste & Create June Partner List!

Wow, this one came up fast! Here is the Taste & Create partner list! Please remember to submit your creations to Nicole's Taste & Create website by June 24th. If you have any questions or problems, please feel free to email me at cowgirlmin07 [at] gmail [dot] com.

Can't wait to see what you all create!

Iron Stef & The Bad Girl's Kitchen

Always Eat on the Good China & 52 Kitchen Adventures

Dragon Musings & Cupcake Project

My Year on the Grill & YUM FOOD

No Reason Needed & Seduce Your Tastebuds

Monday, June 7, 2010

Baked Venison Chimichangas

This recipe comes from Venison Cookery (The Complete Hunter), which is an amazing little cookbook. If you eat venison or elk at all, you need this book! Every recipe we have tried is a winner, and they would all be great with beef as well!

The first time we made these enchiladas, I didn't use nonstick spray on the pan (because the recipe doesn't suggest it!) and that was a big mistake. Use the spray, or you'll be sorry. Also, I omitted the egg to "seal" the chimichangas, it's just an unnecessary step in my opinion, so I've labeled it optional.

Delicious, slightly spicy, and filling! Make some chimichangas today!

Baked Venison Chimichangas
Baking these chimichangas makes them more healthful and less messy than the fried version, and they taste just as good.
6 servings

1 pound lean ground venison, crumbled (or elk or beef)
1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can (10oz.) diced tomatoes with chiles
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup slivered almonds (optional)
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 flour tortillas (10-inch)
1 egg, beaten (optional)
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, cook venison, onion and garlic over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes, or until meat is no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Drain.

Return to heat. Add tomatoes, water, almonds, chile powder, oregano, cumin, salt and cinnamon to skillet. Bring to a simmer. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, or until liquid is nearly gone but mixture is still moist, stirring occasionally.

Spoon about 1/2 cup meat mixture onto center of 1 tortilla. Fold bottom third of tortilla over filling. Fold in sides. Brush top edge of tortilla with beaten egg.* Fold down top of tortilla to seal. Place chimichangas seam-side-down on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas and meat mixture.

Brush tops of chimichangas with melted butter. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until tops are browned. Serve chimichangas with sour cream, shredded Cheddar cheese and salsa, if desired.

*I skip the beaten egg step, simply fold the tortilla and place it on the pan.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Braised Chicken in Yellow Curry

In an effort to clear my sinuses, and because I was really hungry, I turned to my Quick & Easy Thai cookbook. I couldn't find the boneless chicken breasts I swear I bought, so Yellow Curry Chicken was out. I debated improvising--with a cuisine I don't know much about--and decided against it. I was intrigued by a recipe called Son-in-Law Eggs with Crispy Shallots, in which you fry hard-boiled eggs and top them with a savory tamarind sauce, but I'll save that for another time.

I chose Braised Chicken in Yellow Curry. While I was reading the recipe, I thought to myself, 3 tablespoons of red curry is a lot! But then I forgot I had thought that, and stirred in 3 tablespoons when the time was right. You know, 3 tablespoons is a LOT of red curry! If you like it extra spicy, go ahead and add that much. Next time I'll cut it down by half. I had to stir in some yogurt (as usual) and it still cleared my sinuses!

But, the dish is tasty and not too hard to throw together. Try it and see!

Braised Chicken in Yellow Curry

gai goh-lae

2 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 pounds chicken thighs or any combination of chicken pieces (we used some legs)
3 tablespoons yellow curry paste, OR 3 tablespoons red curry paste plus 1 tablespoon curry powder
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, OR 2 tablespoons white vinegar plus 2 teaspoons sugar (we used lime)
1 tablespoon palm sugar OR brown sugar (we used palm)

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken pieces in two batches, turning once or twice until golden and then transferring the browned pieces to a medium bowl.

Reduce heat to medium and add the curry paste to the saucepan. Cook, stirring and mashing, until the paste is fragrant and softened, about 2 minutes. Return the chicken and its juices to the pan and add the coconut milk and chicken broth. Bring to a gentle boil, adjust heat to maintain a lively simmer, and cook 15 to 20 minutes, until chicken is tender and cooked through. Stir in the fish sauce, lime juice, and palm sugar and remove from heat. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve hot or warm.

Taste & Create: Pizza di Ricotta

For this month's Taste & Create, I was paired with Maria at Mangia, Figlie. I was immediately tempted by her Zeppole di San Giuseppe, but time got away from me. In a pinch, with the T&C deadline fast approaching, I decided to make Maria's Aunt Ann's Pizza di Ricotta, or Ricotta Pie. Of her Aunt Ann, Maria writes, “…she’s the one who cooks furiously and always has something ready to go in the freezer for when 30 people just happen to drop by on a Sunday afternoon."

Does that sound familiar? I may not be able to pull a meal for 30 out of the freezer, but if someone says in the morning "Can you make dinner for all 15 of us tonight?" I can say "yes" and have a pretty good head start with my well-stocked freezer/pantry.

For those of you who don't know, Taste & Create is the brainchild of the lovely Nicole of For the Love of Food. T&C is a monthly food blog event in which participants are paired off to choose and prepare a recipe from their partners' blog, and blog about it. Occasionally, like this month, I get to host this fun time. Head over to the T&C website and check out what deliciousness everyone's been creating!

...So then I got sick, and I am just now getting around to making this! It may be the latest T&C entry I've ever submitted! Thanks for waiting...I'll report back after the pie has been chilled and sampled. It SMELLS delightful. =)

I love that this "pizza" has no crust, it really doesn't need one, and it's so easy to put together. The pie is cool and refreshing, with sort of a custardy texture. Definitely a strong hint of anise (licorice) flavor with just one teaspoon, I would NOT use more than that. I think it would also be delicious if you substituted almond or vanilla for the anise. Delicious with or without coffee!

No-Crust Pizza di Ricotta

1 1/2 pounds ricotta
3 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1-2 teaspoons anise extract (I used 1 teaspoon)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a small glass pie plate or 8-inch baking dish.

Mix all ingredients, pour into dish, and bake for 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool and refrigerate several hours. Serve chilled.

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