Thursday, September 24, 2009

Chewy Granola Bars

Does anyone else struggle with snack ideas for your kids? My girls usually get tired of eating something about half way through the box, so I have learned to only buy things for them that I am willing to finish off. Along with that issue, I much prefer to make them snacks-they are more healthy, not full of processed junk, and a little cheaper.
These granola bars were perfect! They are so versatile- you can completely cater to your own taste preference. And they are beyond easy to make, and really tasty too. They are made just like rice krisy bars, just with different ingredients. Not including cooling and cutting time, it took me less than 10 minutes to whip these babies up! And the cost difference compared to store bought is pretty big. My rough estimate indicated that store bought bars cost about $.27 per bar (for the cheaper brand!) and these much healthier, tastier, basic version cost only about $.09 per bar! Chewy Granola Bars

2 cups oatmeal (I havent done this yet, but try toasting it first)
2 cups cheerios (or rice krispys, puff cereal, etc.)
1 cup raisins (or other dried fruit)
1/3 cup ground flax seed (or wheat germ)
-any other mix in ingredient (nuts, seeds, more fruit, etc)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup corn syrup (or honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, etc)
1/2 cup brown sugar

*Mix the dry ingredients together. Set aside.
*Combine the peanut butter, corn syrup and brown sugar in a large pot and heat over medium until the mixture just boils.
*Toss the dry ingredients into the gooey mixture in the pot and quickly stir to coat.
*Dump into a greased 9x13 pan and press down with fingers or a fork dipped in water to prevent sticking
*Allow to cool completely (about an hour, or put it in the fridge to speed the process)
*Cut into bars (I found it easiest to pop the whole thing out of the pan, put it on a cutting board and chop through it with a big butcher knife)
*Makes 18 bars

I haven't tried it yet, but I read that they freeze well. Wrap individually in seran wrap, place in a freezer bag and you will always have ready some easy, fairly healthy, really good grab and go snacks. (or like in our house, breakfast, with some yogurt and a banana)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Double Chocolate Torte

This past Friday I celebrated 5 years of being married to the most terrific husband ever, but I will spare you the mushy gushy and get straight to the food. That is, afterall, why you are here, right?
The occassion completely warrented itself to a very decadent dessert, so I went all out with this one! Double Chocolate Torte- chocolate on top of chocolate- doesn't get much better than that. It is a rich and fudgy chocolate torte base topped with a creamy, fluffy chocolate mousse. I have never made a torte or mousse, so it was an adventure! The torte is basically a very rich brownie- same method, just different amounts of the same ingredients. So that was simple. The mousse was a little more intimidating- trying to heat eggs without curdling them and then folding the whites into the warm chocolate. It turned out surprisingly well, just maybe a little more grainy than I would have liked. But oh so rich and decadent and perfectly paired with a glass of sweet red wine- the perfect end to a perfect day of celebrating!

Double Chocolate Torte (from smittenkitchen.com)
For the torte (the cake):
8 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
5 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1/4 cup flour
For the mousse:
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
4 egss, seperated
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 Tbsp. vanilla
8 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
For the whipped cream topping:
3/4 whipping cream
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
For the cake:
*Butter and sugar a springform pan.
*Melt chocolate and butter in heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Cool to lukewarm.
*Whisk in the sugar.
*Whisk in the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition.
*Mix in the vanilla and salt and then the flour.
*Pour into the prepared pan and bake at 325 degrees for about 35 min. (until the center just rises- a toothpick inserted in center will not come out clean)
*Cool completely and then chill while making the mousse.
For the mousse:
*Melt the butter in a double boiler or heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (dont allow bowl to touch water).
*In a small bowl whisk the yolks, cream and vanilla.
*Gradually add yolk mixture to the butter and whisk constantly over simmering water until thermometer reaches 150 degrees (about 6 min)- Dont worry if mixture appears curdled
*Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate to melt, then set aside.
*Beat the egg whites and sugar medium stiff peaks form.
*Whisk 1/4 of the beaten egg whites to the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites.
*Pour the mousse over the cake and chill for at least 6 hrs until set.
*Release the torte from the pan and transfer it to a serving platter.
*Whip the 3/4 cup of cream with the 1 1/2 tsp of sugar and top the torte.
*Garnish how you like, with chocolate shavings, raspberries, etc.
**Note: The batter of the cake oozed out of the springform pan and onto the bottom of my oven when I made this. Ugh! Thankfully I realized it before too much mess and placed a pan on the bottom rack to catch it and it didnt seem to effect the outcome of the cake, but not real sure how to keep that from happening again- maybe wrap the pan in tin foil?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Raspberry Sauce

Phew! I thought there for a little while that summer was over early in Iowa. Im so glad to have a few more warm days before the fall chill sets in. And Im taking advantage of these warmer days by enjoying some summer favorites like ice cream cones, a fish fry, eating outside, bbqs and raspberry lemonade.
This raspberry sauce is as delicious as it is gorgeous!! And extremely simple!

Just take 6 oz. of fresh or frozen raspberries (both work equally well) and run it through a food processor (Im sure a blender would work too) with 1 Tablespoon of sugar until it is pureed.
Then mash it through a fine mesh sieve:
Keep mashing until all that is left are the seeds. (Thats my favorite part of this recipe- I hate seeds!):
And you are left with some very tasty raspberry sauce. It freezes very well, so dont worry if you can't use it all up. You can use it as a garnish for a fancy dessert, or as a layer in a cake (although you may want to thicken it up a bit by heating it with some cornstarch), or pour it over some pancakes, a dutch baby or some popovers like the girls and I did for lunch the other day, or as an ice cream topping. As you can see the possiblities are many! But my favorite way to use this sauce is to mix it into some lemonade to make raspberry lemonade- the best you will ever have, especially if you make the lemonade from scratch as well. Use anywhere from 1 Tbs.- 1/4 cup of sauce for a pitcher of lemonade, according to your preference.
Enjoy the taste of summer before its just a distant memory!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Zucchini Bread

I feel like I'm a little late in the season for offering up another zucchini recipe, but if you are like me, you still have several zucchini's sitting in your fridge patiently waiting to be used in some delectable way. Ive been making breads and cakes and storing them away in the freezer for this winter when zucchini is no where to be seen. This recipe comes from my mom. I have no clue where she got it, but it's a pretty good one. I found that I liked this one better the next day rather than fresh, go figure.

Zucchini Bread

1 2/3 cup flour
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
2 beaten eggs
1/3 cup melted butter (I substituted 2 T. of this with oil- I like the flavor of butter, but I like the moistness that oil offers)
1/3 cup water
1 cup shredded zucchini (or other squash)
1/2 cup nuts or raisins (optional)

*Sift together the dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside
*Combine the rest of the ingredients in another bowl
*Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir just until moistened
*Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour

Friday, September 4, 2009

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

Ive been a bad blogger havent I? Sheesh! Time has been flying by way too fast! But believe me, this frosting is worth the wait! Its actually a layer in a peanut butter pie I make, but I thought it might taste really good on top of brownies- I was right! Its pretty delicious!!
In this picture I made some brownie bites using a mini muffin tin, piped a big star of frosting on and topped it off with half of a mini reeces pb cup. They were yummy!
Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8 oz. pkg of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
* In your mixer, mix the all the ingredients until combined and lump free.