Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chip Oatmeal with Rice Chex Cookies


 Late August and early September signals the time for your kiddos to go back to school.  Here in Illinois, most schools have been in session for a week or two. Now Mothers and Fathers are now scrambling to fill their kiddos lunchboxes with healthy options. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal with Rice Chex Cookies will certainly be a healthier option than Oreos, for example. I wish that I had this recipe, when my kiddos were growing up.



Whew! I know that Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chip Oatmeal with Rice Chex Cookies is a long title, but these cookies are so good and deserve each ingredient in them.  They are sturdy, with healthy ingredients like peanut butter, oatmeal, and Rice Chex with dark chocolate.  These are the perfect cookies for your kiddos lunchbox and are great for dunking in milk.  Even adults like them, as my neighbor Tom, says that these are now his favorite cookie.  Thanks, Tom for the endorsement! And of course my "Cookie Monster", a.k.a. Scott loves these, too.  I'll chime in too, because there are more gluten free ingredients in the cookies, than the flour, and I could eat the whole batch.  I always try to give some of the  baked goods away, much to the dismay of my Cookie Monster.



What kinds of treats do you put in your kiddos lunchbox?  Cookies, granola bars, fruit?  This recipe is is very adaptable, and you can swap out various ingredients according to your family preferences or needs.  Various nut butters, or even Sunflower butter may be swapped out for the peanut, butter, and if your family doesn't like Dark Chocolate, use milk or semi sweet chips. Different types of cereal can be switched for the Rice Che cereal as well.  Whatever ingredients you add, these cookies are amazing, and you and your kiddos, or your neighbors won't be disappointed.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal with Rice Chex Cookies
Inspired by  Will Cook for Smiles
Yield: 24
Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups of old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup of  dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup rice, wheat, or corn Chex
Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 and line a cookie sheet with Beat butter and dark brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. It will probably take a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the peanut butter and beat on lower speed until all incorporated.
  3. Add the eggs, one at the time, beating until combined. Beat in the vanilla extract as well.
  4. On low speed, sift in the flour, baking soda and salt, mix until all incorporated.
  5. Add the old fashioned oats and mix it on low speed as well, until just combined.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips and rice chex
  7. Scoop the cookies onto a cookie sheet, shape the cookies and bake for 9 minutes.
  8. Let rest on cookies sheet for several minutes.  Remove to rack to cool.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Southwestern Crostini


I am having a love hate- relationship with my computer at the moment. I'm sure that many of you can identify with me, right?  You know, one minute your computer is running fine, no problems, and Bingo, you have a hard disk error message , or something else affecting the health of your computer. That's where I am now. My Toshiba laptop is three years old, and everybody says just to get a new one, but I don't have the money for a new one right now  Scott and I have a good  friend that can replace the hard disk drive, and that is the way that I'm going. I have already backed up my files on the external hard drive.  Enough of this techie stuff for now,  on to the Southwestern Crostini, but I will keep you posted on ths state of my computer.  I may disappear for a few days, while my computer is being fixed.


Here in the Midwest, our window to purchase local produce is very small.  You have to take advantage of the local fruits and vegetables at almost every meal.  I have had several BLT's this week already. There is nothing like garden tomatoes and sweet corn, so I combined them in this Southwestern Crostini.  The Crostini  has fresh garlic gloves spread on the warm toasted bread, then add the fresh chopped garden tomatoes and sweet corn, mixed with a little cumin and olive oil, topped with Mexican cheese and sprinkled with a combination of fresh garden Basil and Mint.  Maybe this is really Fusion? Bruscetta? Whatever you call it, the flavors are wonderful, garlicky toast, earthy cumin, and the bright combo of Basil and Mint, all combined with the fresh tomatoes and corn.  I could eat these all day long! These Southwestern Crostini  would be a welcome addition to your Labor Day cookouts. Enjoy!


Southwestern Crostini- Serves 12

Ingredients:
·                     2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
·                     2-3 whole cloves Garlic
·                     2-3 large garden tomatoes, diced or 1 pint Red Grape Tomatoes, halved   
·                     1/2-3/4 cup cooked sweet corn, cut off the cob
·                     1 tsp cumin
·                     1 whole Baguette, sliced 3/4” slices, and toasted
·                     1/2 cup Mexican Cheese blend, grated
·                     16 whole fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
·                     10 fresh mint leaves, rough chop
Instructions:
Add tomatoes and sweet corn, 2 Tbsp olive oil, and cumin in a bowl.Toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or two if you have the time.

Cut the baguette into diagonal slices to allow for the most surface area possible.. Toast slices in toaster oven or a regular oven at 425 F for 5-6 minutes. After toasting, immediately rub bread with fresh garlic cloves. 


 To serve, give the tomato- corn mixture a final stir, the spoon generously over the slices of bread.  Sprinkle with Mexican Cheese. Top with Basil- Mint mix. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Peacherine Cupcakes with Peach Cream Cheese Filling


 These are Peacherine Cupcakes to me because they have Nectarine jam in the cupcake batter, and diced peaches in the cream cheese filling,peach and nectarine together.  Little did I know that there really is a fruit named Peacherine, a cross between a Peach and a Nectarine, not a cross between a Peach and a Tangerine. Who new?  I also discovered that a Peach and a Nectarine are very close in taste, and the only difference is that a peach has fuzz, and Nectarine does not have fuzz, only a gene away. If you want the scientific explanation click here. It's too early in the morning for Science for me. Ineed more coffee.  It doesn't make any difference what you call these cupcakes, they are wonderful.


Peacherine Cupcakes have cinnamon batter with Gina@SP Cookie queen's Nectarine jam mixed in.  You could also use Peach Jam,  Once the cupcakes are cooled, you cut a hole about the size of a quarter, remove the cake. and fill with luscious cream cheese filling with diced peaches. Then pipe or frost with a rich, creamy, Cream Cheese frosting and garnish with a Peaach or Nectarine slice.  There you have a peachy nectariney, creamy, dreamy, rich cupcake  that almost melts in your mouth till the last crumb. Enjoy!  I made these to take to a party, and they were a big hit.


This is a very versatile recipe because you can change up the recipe to use more nectarines or  more peaches, and the flavor will be about the same, amazing!

 Peacherine and Cream Cupcakes  Adapted from Chocolate Moosey.

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (I used Almond milk plus, 1/2 Tbsp vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup peach or nectarine preserves or peach curd  (I used nectarine  preserves)

Cheesecake Filling:

  • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup peaches, or nectarine pitted and chopped (peeling optional)

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • Pinch of salt (I didn’t use)
  • 1 peach or nectarine,  pitted and sliced, for garnish, Optional

Instructions:

Cupcakes:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Insert 12 liners into a cupcake pan.
2. In a large bowl beat together the oil and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined. Add the egg and vanilla to the sugar mixture, beating 1 minute

3. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, and cinnamon
4. Add the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture, alternating with the milk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until completely integrated.

5. Beat in peach preserves or peach curd.
6. Fill the cupcake liners three-quarters full.  Bake for about 18- 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.



Cream Cheesecake filling:

  1. In a small bowl, beat the cream until stiff peaks form (when you pull the beaters straight up, peaks will form and not fall over).  Do not overbeat.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, Beat cream cheese until fluffy, and beat in sugar until creamy and smooth, scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla. Fold in the whipped cream then fold in the chopped peaches.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, Cream butter and cream cheese, with stand mixer, and gradually beat in powdered sugar and salt, if used, until fluffy and creamy. Refrigerate until needed.

To assemble:

  1. Once the cupcakes are completely cool, cut out a hole, about the size of a quarter, in the middle with the tip of a pairing knife, being careful not to cut through the bottom. I have a Cupcake Corer, which is a handy little tool that makes a perfect hole every time.  Scoop out some of the cake, with a small measuring spoon, but reserve the top to put back on after filling. Fill with the cream cheese filling then cover the top with the reserved cake. Frost or pipe frosting on each cupcake. Keep cupcakes refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Browned Butter Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Coconut Cookies


Browned Butter makes everything better.  True or false?  I would give a resounding "True", based on my experience baking with browned butter.  Browning the butter gives your baked goods, a deeper, nutty, richer flavor. Add in dark chocolate chips, some oatmeal, and some coconut flakes for good extra chewiness,, and you have a huge winner in my book.  And I am not alone.  I sent some of these to my dear blogging friend, Gin@SPcookiequeen, and she said these are her favorite ones that I had  sent to her so far.  That's good enough for me.  I'm glad that she liked them so much.  When mailing cookies you have to send sturdy cookies that can survive a cross country plane trip, and these cookies were perfect and dense cookies to survive the cross country trek


Of course,  I didn't send the whole batch to Gina, because I had to have some cookies left for my Cookie monster, aka Scott.  He loved these cookies, too, and I always have to hide a few for me, so he doesn't eat them all.  Another reason that these cookies are so good, besides the browned butter, is that I have been refrigerating the cookie dough.  Refrigerating the dough before baking gives all of the ingredients a chance to blend, and keeps the cookies from spreading, too much. These cookies taste so good, but they still aren't pretty.  You can change up this recipe to suit your preferences and swap out the dark chocolate chips for semi or milk chocolate chips.  If you don't like coconut, don't add it or add nuts.  There are many options for these cookies, the choice is yours Enjoy!

 Browned Butter Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Coconut Cookies  Adapted from QuakerOats.com

Ingredients
  • 1  cup (2 sticks) browned***
  • 3/4  cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2  cup granulated sugar
  • 2  eggs
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-1/2  cups all-purpose flour
  • 1  teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 3  cups  Oats (quick or old fashioned)  I used old fashioned oats
  •  1 cup flaked coconut
  • 2 cups dark chocolate o milk chocolate chunks
Directions
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  1. Browned Butter: Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat, whisking frequently to melt butter. Continue to cook the butter. Once melted the butter will foam up a bit, then subside. Watch carefully as lightly browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan. Smell the butter; it should have a nutty aroma. Pour melted butter and browned bits in a heatproof bowl and allow to cool a bit.
  2. Beat together browned butter and sugars until creamy.
  3. Add eggs, and vanilla; beat well.
  4. Add combined flour, baking soda, and salt; mix well.
  5. Stir in oats and coconut; mix well;  stir in milk chocolate chunks
  6. At this point, for best results, you can store the dough in the refrigerator for up to a day and a half. (I put mine in the fridge overnight.)  After taking dough out of fridge, warm up a bit to scoop dough out of bowl.
  7. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. I used my 1” cookie scoop for smaller cookies
  8. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown for chewy cookies, 12-14 min. for crispy cookies.
  9. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet; remove to wire rack  
  10. Store in covered container

Friday, August 15, 2014

No-Bake Lemon Blueberry Four Layer Dessert in Jars


My Mom's favorite cake was Lemon Cake, but she liked any lemon desserts.  August 14th would have been my Mom's 91st birthday.  I always try to make some sort of Lemon Cake or dessert in her memory. I got my love of baking from her, after all. In the past I have made Triple Lemon Layer Cake and  Lemon Blueberry Cake to mention a few.



August 14th is also my dear blogging friend, Gina@SPcookiequeen's  birthday.  Gina was one of my first  blogging friends, and she has been a dear friend since then, especially since I found out that she  and my Mom shared the same birthday, August 14th.  This year for my Mom and Gina, I made the No-Bake Lemon Blueberry Four Layer Dessert.  Gina lives in Northwest, which has been experiencing an extended summer heat wave with temps  at 100 degrees. I wanted to make a dessert that wouldn't need Gina to turn on her oven.  My Mom loved this dessert, but she had only made it in a 13x9 pan.  I changed a few things.  I added a blueberry layer on top of the cream cheese layer, and I put the dessert in jars.

Now,  I know that I am always late to the party, but I wanted to try a dessert in the jars.  I found out that I don't have that much patience, and it takes a lot of time to fill the jars, neatly.  I am not  a perfectionist either, but the jars sure look cute, and they are perfect for a picnic or potluck.  Have you made desserts in jars, and what do you think about them?  Either way that you make this dessert, it is pure heaven.


Since I was making the dessert in a jar, I made a regular graham cracker crust, and tamped it down in the bottom of the jar. Then I mixed the cream cheese and folded in the  Cool Whip.  You can use whipped cream also, but I wanted to make a lighter version of this dessert. Spoon the cream cheese mixture carefully over graham cracker crust. Sprinkle blueberries over the cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate jars, while the pudding is prepared.  Prepare pudding  using 3 cups of milk for two small boxes of pudding. Let pudding set  I also used Almond milk which has fewer calories than low fat milk. Carefully spoon the pudding over the blueberry layer. Top with another layer of Cool Whip or whipped cream.  Voila! You have a very cute dessert in a jar, that tastes wonderful with the crunchy graham cracker crust to to the luscious cream cheese layer to the sweet blueberry layer, topped with a tangy sweet pudding layer, and whipped topping.  The beauty of this versatile dessert is that you can vary the crust, or change up the pudding flavors; chocolate, lemon, pistachio. even vanilla, depending on your fancy.

 No-Bake Lemon Blueberry Layered Dessert

 Yield: 8- 8 oz. jelly jars

 Ingredients:  
 ***1st  Layer, the crust ** 18 graham cracker squares, about 1 ¼ cups crushed, 5 Tbsp melted butter, and 2 Tbsp sugar

 ***2nd layer the cream cheese layer*** 1 package (8 ounce size) cream cheese, softened 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 cup Cool Whip or whipped cream, 1pint of fresh blueberries

 ***3 rd layer, the pudding layer***
2 small pkg Instant lemon pudding., or flavor of your choice
3 cups milk I used Almond Milk 

 ***4th layer. the topping *** 1 cup Cool Whip,Blueberries, Mini chocolate chips, chopped nuts, or chocolate curls or garnish of your choice.

 Directions:
Mix ingredients for 1st layer.  Spread  on the bottom of the jar.  Tamp down with the end of wooden spoon, or muddler.

Mix the ingredients for the 2nd layer the cream cheese layer, and carefully spoon on top of crust. Sprinkle blueberries over the cream cheese layer.

Mix the ingredients for the 3rd layer, the pudding layer, and spoon on Top of 2nd layer.  Chill for 30 minutes


 4th layer, top with a thin layer of Cool Whip, and garnish with blueberries.  Refrigerate until serving time.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pasta Primavera with Feta Cheese



Summertime and fresh garden local fruits and vegetables go together.  Here in the Midwest, we have a very small window in which to enjoy them.  We anxiously wait for them to appear at Farm stands, and Farmer's Markets, and before you know it, they are gone.  At every meal we are using fresh fruits or vegetables to make the most of Nature's bounty. I made this simple, delicious Pasta Primavera to showcase the veggies and herbs.


This Pasta Primavera has roasted gtape tomatoes and zucchini. When  roasting the vegetables, the flavors of the veggies are intensified, as they caramelize, and give the the dish a wonderful, bright flavor. There really isn't a sauce per se, but rather a light drizzle of olive oil and topped with fresh herbs and Feta cheese.  The tang of the Feta cheese pairs well with sweet, roasted vegetables. Sometimes is less is more, when cooking, and the stars of the meal are the fresh produce and herbs.  This is a perfect, light dish for those warm summer nights that won't weigh you down.  Also, this dish can be ready in the time that it takes to roast the veggies, and cook the pasta.15-20 minutes. You will be out of the kitchen in no time.  Of course you can use your favorite pasta and veggies.  What are your favorite summer veggies to pair with pasta?   Whatever combination of fresh vegetables and pasta you choose, you won't be disappointed.  This is the perfect light dish for a summer lunch or dinner.  Enjoy!


Pasta Primavera with Feta Cheese

Ingredients:
  • 2 medium zucchini or 1 large zucchini, cut thick slices, halved
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs or Herbes de Provence
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped or chiffonade
  • 1 pound pasta  I used Linguine
  • 1 lb or grape tomatoes, or halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 Feta cheese crumbles
Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

In a large bowl, toss the zucchini and  grape tomatoes with 2 Tbsp of olive oil, salt, pepper, and dried herbs to coat. Arrange on a large baking sheet. Bake 10-15  minutes total .for al dente.  If you like your veggies, less firm, bake a little longer.  Watch that they don’t burn!

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
Toss the pasta with the vegetable mixtures in a large bowl to combine. and enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the Feta cheese and fresh basil. Serve immediately. 

I linked up my recipe to Brandie's The Weekend Potluck #131  
 
    
   


 



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