Friday, September 21, 2018

Oatmeal Butterscotch Bars

These were so good.  I got the recipe from a Cook's Country Email, but noticed that Mel's Kitchen Cafe had also re-posted it.  Both of those sources are very trustworthy, so I figured this recipe must be good!! And it is.  These bars were gone very quickly.  They'd be good for a potluck, too, they make a lot, and don't contain any nuts or peanuts.

Oatmeal Butterscotch Bars
from Cook's Country via Mel's Kitchen Cafe

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter
1 cup packed dark or light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup butterscotch chips
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon water
1/8 teaspoon salt

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Line a 9X13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, letting the foil hang over the each short edge by one or two inches. Lightly grease the foil with cooking spray.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Place the 3/4 cup butterscotch chips in a large bowl. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and let the butter cook until light golden brown in color, about 10 minutes, taking care not to burn. Pour the hot butter over the butterscotch chips and whisk together until melted and smooth. Whisk in the brown sugar until combined. Whisk in the egg and vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture, just until incorporated.

3.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top, spreading the batter evenly to the edges. Bake the bars until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs, about 15-18 minutes.

4.  While the bars bake, place the 1/4 cup butterscotch chips, brown sugar, water and salt in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave the mixture until melted and smooth, about 2 minutes on 50% power. Whisk to combine well.

5.  Drizzle the glaze over the warm bars. Let the bars cool completely in the pan. Remove the bars from the pan using the foil overhang and cut into squares. Serve.
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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

One-Pot Pasta & Meatballs (Homemade Spaghettios II)

This pasta was delicious and a hit with the fam.  It was pretty easy, too.  The hardest part is finding the correct pasta shape, which is very important to me! Lol.  You need anelletti for this, and I have a hard time finding it here in Italy, even!!  Maybe it's more common in the South.  I had a bag of it in my pantry from somewhere- I have no idea where I bought it, unfortunately, or I would go back and buy a lot more.  It's such a fun shape! I made a similar recipe many, many years ago, but with a creamier tomato sauce.  I think I might revisit that one and make it meatless next time.  Back then I got the pasta from Trader Joe's.  I have no idea if they still carry it. 
One-Pot Pasta & Meatballs (Homemade Spaghettios II)
adapted from The Kitchn

1 pound uncooked Italian bulk sausage (not links)
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 to 3 cups water or low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
8 ounces dry O-shaped pasta (2 cups), also known as anelli or anelletti
For serving: Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes

1.  Divide the sausage into 32 (1/2-ounce) portions and roll each one into a tablespoon-sized meatball. (I used a cookie scoop that held one tablespoon for this.  My 7-yr old also helped with this part and loved it.)

2.  Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a 10-inch high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over, about 3 minutes per side. The meatballs might not be completely cooked at this point. Transfer to a plate.

3.  Return the pan to medium-high heat and melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the onion, salt, and pepper, and cook, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the tomatoes, 2 cups of the water or broth, vinegar, sugar, and oregano. Stir in the pasta and meatballs, along with any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Bring to a boil.

4.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente and the meatballs are cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes, adding more water or broth as needed if you want a soupier consistency. Ladle into bowls and top with Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes, if desired.
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Monday, September 17, 2018

Israeli-Style Eggplant (Twice Cooked)

I LOVED this eggplant!!  Sadly, my parsley plant had died, so I had to used dried parsley, and was unable to garnish it.  But, I decided to just post the pics anyway, although they could be prettier with some green.  This might not look like the best thing to eat, but it's SO good!!  I was interested in an Israeli eggplant recipe when it was included on our falafel plates in Krakow recently.  I found this recipe and went for it.  We had this when I made hummus recently and it went so well with that, the pita, falafel, and tomato/cuke salad. I think this was my fave thing of the whole meal.  And I don't even like eggplant usually!  You've gotta make this.

Israeli-Style Eggplant (Twice Cooked)
adapted from Feeling Foodish

2 eggplant (medium), washed and cut into 1/2 round slices
1-2 tbsp kosher salt, to taste
1 onion, chopped (I used red onion)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1/4 cup sherry vinegar (I used a mix of red wine vinegar & honey vinegar)
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice, fresh

1.  Sprinkle eggplant slices with salt, and arrange on top of paper towels (on a plate) or on top of wire rack. Let sit for 30 mins.  (This draws out the water.)

2.  In a large fry pan, add 4-6 tablespoons of olive oil (add more if needed to thinly coat bottom of pan) and heat until the oil is shimmering but not smoking. Over medium heat, fry eggplant slices until they are nearly charred (about 10 minutes per side)

3.  Remove the eggplant and place on plate. Set aside. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the now empty pan and then added the red pepper, onion, and spices. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 12 minutes

4.  Add the eggplant and vinegar and cook until the vinegar has cooked off. Mash the eggplant while cooking with a wooden spoon. This step takes about 8 minutes.

5.  Remove from heat and add parsley and lemon juice. Serve warm or cold.
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Saturday, September 15, 2018

4-Ingredient Grilled Pork Chops

These are SO easy to make and very good.  Just make sure you don't grill the pork too long, or it will get a little tough.  You can marinade for 3 hours or up to 24 hours.  To make the small amount of marinade go further, place the pork and marinade in a large ziplock bag (instead of using a bowl or other container).

4-Ingredient Grilled Pork Chops
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

4-6 boneless pork loin chops
1/4 cup olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon steak seasoning (I used Penzey's Quebec Beef Spice- use your fave spice/seasoning mix)

1.  Mix olive oil, soy sauce and steak seasoning together in a small bowl.  Add the pork chops to a large ziploc bag or flat dish and pour the marinade ingredients over the top. Refrigerate and marinade for at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours.

2.  Heat a charcoal or propane grill to medium and grill the chops 6-8 minutes per side (depending on how thick they are) until an instant-read thermometer registers between 145 and 155 degrees F. Don't grill too long or they will be dry.

3.  Remove the chops from the grill, tent them with foil, and allow them to rest for 5-7 minutes. Serve.  Slice the chops across the grain.
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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Smooth & Creamy Hummus

I've made homemade hummus before, but it never turned out nice and smooth.  I came across this blog post about making smooth hummus recently.  The trick is taking the bean skins off!!  So I tried this and it totally worked.  It was a bit tedious to remove the skins, but the blogger has tips.  I made this on a weekend so my husband helped.  We even doubled the batch.  Lol.  So, we skinned two cans of beans.  It actually doesn't take that long, and it's totally worth it.  We enjoyed this hummus with falafel (store-bought, unfortunately), tomato/cuke salad, Israeli-Style Eggplant (recipe coming soon), and homemade flat bread.  I was inspired by our recent trip to Krakow, Poland, where I had the best falafel plate, and the next day, falafel sandwich, of my life.  Lol.  (Don't worry, we also ate delish pierogis.)

Creepy-looking bean skins, above.

Smooth & Creamy Hummus
adapted from NeighborFood

1 15 ounce can chickpeas*
1/2 cup tahini paste
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 small cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
Reserved chickpea water from the can
Olive oil, parsley, paprika and/or sumac for serving

1.  Drain the chickpeas, reserving the juice in a small cup. *Don't forget to reserve the juice!!  I did the first time, so we had to double the recipe to use another can's juice.  Lol.

2.  Remove the skins from the chickpeas. The easiest way to do this is to pinch the chickpeas between your thumb and forefinger, with the pointy side facing your hand. Squeeze the chickpea and the skin should pop right off. Place the skinned chickpea in the blender, and the skins in the trash.

3.  Once all the chickpeas are skinned and in the blender (or food processor), pulse until the chickpeas are in sandy looking crumbles. You may need to stop and shake the blender and/or scrape down the sides a few time.

4.  Add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt, and blend until smooth, scraping the bowl as needed.
Slowly add the chickpea water to the mix until the mixture can blend without catching and is completely smooth. I usually use nearly all of the reserved water.  Chill the hummus for an hour or so. To serve, top with olive oil, parsley, and sprinkle with paprika and/or sumac.
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Sunday, September 9, 2018

One-Pot Creamy Tomato Basil Pasta

I loved this pasta!  It was so easy too!  Right now I'm buying wonderful grape tomatoes often from the Sicilian guy on the side of the road. :)  He sells produce from Sicily and it's all delicious, and cheap.  I got the zucchini from him too (just saute it on the stove with olive oil and your favorite herb mix, and salt if needed. Add feta if desired.) His tomatoes were wonderful in this. Of course if you grow your own, that would be even better.  We grow our own basil!!  Lol.

I used my white non-stick (I think ceramic-coated) soup pot for this recipe and it was perfect.  If you have an enamel Dutch oven that would be great.

One-Pot Creamy Tomato Basil Pasta
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

2 cups milk
2 3/4 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
1 pound (16 ounces) spaghetti, broken in half
4 cups (about 20 ounces) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (can add more- I did)
3 cloves garlic, finely minced (about 1 heaping teaspoon)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 to 1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
1/2 cup (about 1.5 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1.  In a large pot (5- to 6-quarts), combine the milk, broth, spaghetti, garlic, oregano, cherry tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat and gently simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring often so the pasta doesn’t stick. Adjust the heat accordingly especially at the end. Cook until the pasta is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. (At the end, I threw in a few tablespoons of cream I had on hand that needed to be used. It was great, but not needed. If the pasta is not cooked through and the liquid is gone, add extra broth or milk as needed until pasta is tender.)

2.  Off the heat, stir in the basil leaves and the Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately (if you want it slightly thicker, let it rest 5-10 minutes; it will thicken as it stands).
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Monday, September 3, 2018

5-Minute Hot Fudge Sauce

We love hot fudge sauce around here.  I have my fave go-to recipe, but when I went to make it recently, I found I was out of evaporated milk.  I'd had this recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe bookmarked for a while, so decided to try it, instead.  She also has peanut butter and butterscotch variations- I'm excited to try those sometime!!  Click on the recipe link to see the other versions.  I need to try them soon.  ;)

5-Minute Hot Fudge Sauce
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

8 ounces (about 1 1/3 cups) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar (optional)
2 tablespoons natural unsweetened or Dutch-process cocoa powder (sift before using if it is lumpy)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1.  In a medium saucepan, stir together the chopped chocolate (or chocolate chips), heavy cream, butter, corn syrup, brown sugar (if using), and cocoa powder. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth, 3-5 minutes. Don’t let the mixture overheat or scorch! Add additional milk or heavy cream, if needed, for a thinner consistency.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
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