August 27, 2009

Horse, Llama, and Chickens

The conversation between my Bex and Jake went like this.

"Dad can i have a horse?"
"sorry, we don't have room for a horse"
"How about a Llama?"
"What?! why a Llama?"
" They look soft"
"Bex How bout a Chicken?"
" Ok daddy!"

I love that she is still so easily pleased.

August 25, 2009

Bittersweet Chocolate Tart

Best served the day it is baked.

Makes: One 9 1⁄2- or 10-inch tart

Prepare in a 91⁄2- or 10-inch two-piece tart pan.

Pat-in-the-Pan Shortbread Dough, below
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bring to a simmer in a small saucepan:
1 cup heavy cream
Remove from the heat and add:
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
Whisk gently until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth, then whisk in:
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Pour the chocolate mixture into the tart shell. Bake until the center seems set but still quivers, like gelatin, when the pan is nudged, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool on a rack.
Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with:
Whipped Cream
Store in refrigerator.

One 9 1⁄2- or 10-inch tart shell
When baked, this rich, sweet dough resembles a shortbread cookie. Use it for a cream pie, a lemon tart, a fresh fruit tart with pastry cream, or any other pie or tart with a creamy or buttery filling.
Whisk together in a bowl or process in a food processor for 10 seconds:
1 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
1⁄3 cup sugar
(1 teaspoon grated lemon zest)
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, softened if working by hand
Mash with the back of a fork or process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add:
1 large egg yolk
Mix with a spatula or process just until the dough comes together in a ball. If the dough is too soft and sticky to work with, wrap it and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (up to 2 days). Grease or butter the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan or 9 1⁄2- or 10-inch two-piece tart pan or eight 3 1⁄2-inch tartlet pans. Dust the pans with flour, and tap out the excess. Pat the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan. Thoroughly prick the bottom and sides with a fork. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Bake until deep golden brown, 18 to 22 minutes.

Coleslaw-Ranch style with Bacon

Serves 6

1 pkg. (16 oz.) coleslaw blend
4 slices Bacon, crisply cooked, crumbled
1/2 cup Ranch Dressing

TOSS coleslaw blend and bacon in large bowl.
ADD dressing; toss to coat.
Eat and enjoy!

My Big Fat Greek Chicken Salad

Serves 4

Replacing mayonaise or bottled dressings with yogurt made a big difference in my own battle of the bulge. And I love using fresh herbs such as oregano to give my meals a big flavor boost.

The Groceries

The Dressing

1/2 cup plain low fat yogurt
1 1/3 TBSP lemon juice
2/3 TBSP Red Wine Vinegar
1/3 TBSP oregano, finely chopped
1 1/3 small cloves garlic, minced
salt and ground black pepper

2/3 bag (5 ounces) salad greens
1 1/3 cooked rotisserie chicken breasts, skinned and cut into chunks
2/3 pint grape tomatoes, halved

2 kirby cucumbers, peeled and sliced
2/3 cups kalamata olives, sliced
1/3 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cups feta cheese, crumbled
2 2/3 whole wheat pitas (8" each)


To make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, lemon juice, vinegar, oregano, and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

To make the salad: In a large bowl, combine the salad greens, chicken, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, onion, and feta. Add the dressing and toss gently to combine.

Wrap the pitas in a paper towel, warm them in a microwave for 15 to 20 seconds, and serve with the salad.

August 11, 2009

Peanut Butter Bars

I adore the marriage between chocolate and peanut butter. I am unaware of the length of their relationship but I do not see divorce in the near future. The salty nuttiness of peanuts joined with the rich sweetness of chocolate definitely supports the old adage; opposites attract. When I hear that peanut butter bars are being served at a picnic or potluck, I usually cower, mostly because past experiences with peanut butter bars have proven, how should I say it, yucky. Too gooey, too dry, too sweet, too rich, too, too, – too, well yucky. I happened upon this recipe, submitted by Nancy, on which was completely serendipitous considering I needed a dish to bring to a potluck today. No bake, even better so I took a chance. Ah-ha! Place these on your next sweet treats to make list, you won’t be disappointed because I think you will agree that they taste suspiciously like a Reese's® Peanut Butter Cup.

Peanut Butter Bars
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 sticks butter, melted
1 cup all natural peanut butter, I used Smucker’s
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
4 T. more peanut butter

In a food processor pulse graham crackers until super fine. I used 16 whole Nabisco Grahams Original® crackers. But be sure that you have exactly 2 cups of whatever brand you use. To the fine crumbs add the melted butter, peanut butter, and powdered sugar. Pulse until mixture is blended and smooth. Press the peanut butter mixture into an ungreased 9 x 13 baking pan. Melt the chocolate chips and 4 T. peanut butter in the microwave in 25 second increments until melted and smooth. Pour over peanut butter batter and spread evenly. Chill for 30 minutes or until set. Remove to room temperature for at least 15 minutes then slice into bars.

Note: Here is where some of the reviewers had trouble. Some tried to cut the bars right from the refrigerator and found the chocolate separated from the base or they crumbled and cracked. So be sure to leave them out of the fridge for 15 or more minutes before cutting with a very sharp knife, hot water on the knife is unnecessary. Mine sliced beautifully and held their shape. I think the natural peanut butter is much creamier giving a fudgier texture. Because I used a food processor I did not experience a grainy texture as some of the other reviewers reported.