Have you ever wanted to make a pan of cookie bars so you just made a regular recipe of cookie dough, threw it in a pan and then were disappointed with the final results? I think it has something to do with the amount of leavening required to make the bars rise enough in a pan vs just as a small cookie on a sheet pan. Enough science though, let’s talk dessert. These oatmeal bars are a real gem – they don’t contain any butter or eggs, and bake for less than 20 minutes – peanut butter and milk provide the glue to hold these together, and lend a more earthy and hearty flavor to the end product. They’re great served warm with milk, like their cookie cousins, but will leave you feeling a little more full thanks to the oatmeal and peanut butter. And just like a cookie (or a Lay’s potato chip), I bet you can’t eat just one.
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars
A hearty and sweet dessert bar filled with oats, peanut butter and chocolate
If you’re anything like me, you have a hard time making it between meals without a little snack to tide you over. Not a full mini-meal or anything, just some fruit or nuts or a baked good. Okay let’s be honest, more often than not, a baked good. I’ve had the usual suspects in rotation for quite some time – banana bread, oatmeal bars, blueberry muffins – until my sister introduced me to pumpkin muffins this winter, and my snacking world was turned upside down! What is this delicious treat?? It tastes almost like cake given how soft and moist it is, and is sweet enough to not need frosting, but with the pumpkin puree and spices it tastes healthy enough to not feel (too) guilty for enjoying it between meals.
Here my friends, is the pumpkin muffin. Easy to make, hard to eat just one. This recipe makes a double batch, nearly 30 muffins, so we’re in luck that these muffins freeze and defrost beautifully, if that’s your thing. For those of you on the gluten free wagon, substitute a good gluten free flour (like Domata or Bob’s Red Mill) one-for-one with its wheat-filled sibling, and that’s it! You’d never notice the difference.
A big thanks to my sister for sharing this recipe she received from a friend! That’s one of the beauties of good food – you can share not only the end product but also the recipe, many times over, extending the joy to countless others. So go ahead and make a batch for breakfast, to give to a friend or for a delicious snack!
These pumpkin muffins are moist and sweet, and perfect for breakfast or a snack!
Before I get too far into this post let’s take a pause and acknowledge that food like split pea soup sounds pretty unappetizing and something of the nightmares of small children – or in my case, a hesitation to try it until in my thirties. But really – give it a try! Set your prejudice for split peas aside for an afternoon and open your heart. You won’t regret it.
The inspiration for this soup comes from my dad. Probably once a week I find myself on the phone with him swapping recipe and meal ideas, and recently admitted that for the better part of a decade I had been throwing away the ham bone after I served a ham for dinner – my dad was appalled! He convinced me to try making a soup out of the ham bone, just once, to see how good it was. And he wasn’t wrong! Next time you make a ham, save that bone and all the meat on it. If you don’t feel like making ham soup right away, the bone freezes and defrosts really well for later use.
This recipe is a play off the America’s Test Kitchen version – here’s a quick run down of the recipe, as it’s a little lengthy and you’ll need a few hours to prepare from start to finish.
Ham bone is boiled in 16 cups of water, then bone is removed and meat is shredded off the bone (see the photo below)
Split peas are added to the stock and simmered until soft but not mushy
While the bone is simmering, vegetables are sautéed to be added later to the soup
Diced potatoes are added near the end, with the sautéed vegetables and shredded ham, and simmered just until soft
Shredded ham off the bone, after simmering in water to make stock for the soup
This little treat is amazing served immediately, reheated the next day or even frozen and then defrosted at a later date. Give it a try! Hopefully this makes a split pea soup convert of you, like it did for me and encourages you to save that ham bone to make soup.
Ham & Split Pea Soup
This split pea soup with ham is a warm and hearty meal and is great reheated the next day.
Place the ham bone in a large stock pot and add the water and bay leaves. Cover and heat over medium-high, bringing to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 2.5 hours until the meat falls off the bone.
Remove ham bone and meat from the stock; add the thyme leaves and split peas, stir, and simmer for 45 minutes.
Let the ham meat cool, and shred it into bite-sized pieces. Set aside. Throw the bone away.
While the ham is simmering, heat a large fry pan over high heat, and add the olive oil. Add the onion, carrot and celery and sauté until the vegetables begin to brown. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the sugar, garlic and butter, stirring to combine. Continue to cook for 30-40 minutes until the vegetables are deep brown, stirring every 5 minutes. Once the vegetables are cooked, remove the heat and set aside.
Once the split peas are cooked, add the sauteed vegetables, potatoes and ham to the pot. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
Season with ground black pepper and serve.
This soup is delicious made ahead and served the next day.
By Bryna Krentz
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/
As summer turns to fall I love enjoying all the seasonal foods that come with the changing seasons – warm soups, apple crisp and most of all, pumpkin bars. I once had a lengthy debate with a friend about this recipe – if bars or cake was the right name for this pumpkin dessert – and we agreed that the name didn’t really matter because it’s delicious!
This dessert is a moist, dense cake, and is relatively thin because it’s baked in a large jelly roll pan, spiced with cinnamon and flavored with pumpkin puree. The cream cheese frosting is coated on thick – smoothy and creamy, with a little tang from the cream cheese. If you don’t want to make the frosting from scratch two cans of pre-made cream cheese frosting do very nicely – but be sure to use two cans (not one) to ensure you can get nice, thick coverage on these bars.
Once the bars are prepared, find some friends to share them with since the recipe makes at least 30 bars of generous size – I found out the hard way that if these hang around my home too long I’ll eat them all myself!
Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
This pumpkin bars are moist and delicious and with cream cheese frosting coating the top are the perfect fall dessert!
2 cans of pre-made cream cheese frosting (16oz each)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a large jelly roll pan with PAM spray.
Using an electric mixer, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin on medium speed, mixing until light and fluffy.
In a separate bowl stir together the dry ingredients (rice flour, cornstarch, xanthan gum, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda). Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until well combined.
Spread the batter into the greased pan.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the bars begin to pull away from the edges. Remove from the oven before they begin to darken and brown.
Let cool completely, then frost.
If you prefer to make these non-gluten free, substitute 2 cups of unbleached flour for the rice flour and cornstarch, and exclude the xanthan gum.
Earlier this summer I was in search of an appetizer I could bring to an outdoor BBQ party when the weather was nearly 100 degrees and I knew most people would be walking around with a plate and not sitting down for a full meal… I knew it needed to be something that didn’t require a fork and knife, and better yet, no plate, and might even be considered refreshing given the heat and humidity. Where did this search and such challenging requirements land me? Chicken Salad Wraps, my friends, that’s where. These little guys go by a lot of names – some people call them “Pinwheels” while others opt for the less-traditional but very funny “Redneck Sushi” name.
One of the things I love about making these is that you can switch up the ingredients depending on your audience or what you have on hand – easy to swap out mozzarella or cheddar slices for swiss, or instead of chopped chicken breast you could use ham, turkey or roast beef. Want to add some more flavor to the mix? Add some dijon mustard to the cream cheese and mayo or even a little horseradish.
With no further ado – there’s some instructions and the recipe! Even though temps of 100 degrees are now a distant memory these are still delicious and would be perfect for an after-school snack or during a football game.
First, prepare the filling for the wrap. Lay out a tortilla with 3 slices of cheese, then spread the prepared filling evenly over the center of the tortilla, leaving the top and bottom sections without any filing.
Carefully roll up the tortilla, pushing the filling out evenly towards the end of the tortilla. Once fully rolled, let the tortilla rolls rest while on the end, letting it seal.
After about 10 minutes, use a serrated knife to cut the sandwich rolls into slices, roughly 1-2 inches wide.
Enjoy! If you have ideas or suggestions please leave a note in the comments!
Chicken Salad Wraps
These little sandwich wraps are a delicious appetizer that's easy to prepare!
To prepare the filling, mix the cream cheese, mayo, chicken breast, black pepper and lettuce until thoroughly combined.
Lay a tortilla out, then lay 3 slices of cheese across the center of the tortilla.
Scoop a third of the filling and place in the center of the tortilla, spreading out, leaving the top and bottom of the tortilla without any filling.
Starting at the bottom of the tortilla, carefully roll the tortilla towards the top, being careful to not roll too tightly so as the squeeze the filling out. Let sit for 10 minutes for the ingredients to set.
Cut the tortilla rolls with a serrated knife into 2 inch slices.
Set tortilla sandwich wrap slices on a plate to serve.
By Bryna Krentz
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/
Many years ago I picked up a magazine in the checkout line of the grocery store that has served as the inspiration for many good recipes over the last decade. The magazine was geared towards “lighter fare” so I’ve tended to add back the fat to many of the original recipes, adding my own spin and more flavor. This baked ziti is a perfect example of that and has become my favorite pasta recipe and is perfect to serve a big group – even 10 or 12 people. It’s a delicious blend of tender pasta, spicy italian sausage, a simple homemade tomato sauce and lots of mozzarella, all baked together and topped with fresh basil and parmesan cheese.
This dish is ideal to serve at night when the temperature starts to dip and you’re looking for something to warm you up, or for a Sunday football game with friends, or to deliver to a friend in need of a meal. It’s easy to prepare in advance and bake right before serving, and the leftovers are just as good reheated the next day.
Baked Ziti with Sausage
This baked pasta dish with tomatoes, sausage and cheese is perfect to serve a crowd and can be prepared in advanced, then baked just before serving.
When the weather is hot and humid and I can’t dream of heating up my cool, air-conditioned home with heat from the stove or oven I’ll make just about anything that involves outdoor cooking. Once the appeal of grilled meat and veggies from the grill wears off it forces me to be more creative about preparing outdoor meals and one of our favorite meal discoveries in the last few years is now an all-time favorite – Low Country Boil! This meal has a few names depending on the part of the country you live in (one less appealing option: Frogmore Stew) but the components are pretty much the same – fresh shrimp, corn on the cob, kielbasa sausage, small red potatoes and an onion, and Hot Sauce and Old Bay Seasoning for flavor. That’s it!
All the ingredients are boiled in hot water (on our outdoor stove) and served on the picnic table over newspaper, no silverware required. Or you can class things up a bit and use plates and forks… whatever floats your boat. Great served with crusty french bread and a glass of rose.
This time of year the calendar is packed with fun summer outings, picnics, parties and the like, and in the spirit of making it easy, most of the events on our calendar tend to be potlucks with everyone chipping in and bringing something to share. One of my favorite go-to recipes is a veggie pizza appetizer because it’s easy to prepare, light and downright delicious.
The time saver in this appetizer comes from using a roll of refrigerated crescent dough, and rolling it out into one thin, solid piece of dough on a cookie sheet. After baking and cooling, the flaky dough is topped with Chive & Onion cream cheese, cheddar cheese and a variety of chopped fresh veggies. Let this chill in the refrigerator for an hour before serving and you’ve got yourself a real winner – the dough is light and flaky, the cream cheese is cool and flavorful and the toppings add tons of flavor and crunchiness.
Veggie Pizza Appetizer
A light flaky dough topped with cool cream cheese and lots of veggies is the perfect start to an outdoor meal!
Hold on to your britches, Minnesotans, I’m about to introduce you to a new casserole, ahem, hot dish. Forgive me for assuming you’ve never heard of this concoction but I had my socks knocked off when I learned about the immense popularity of this casserole as I consider myself pretty well-versed in the subject given my Midwestern upbringing. I saw this dish on an episode of “Diners Drive-ins and Dives” and took to the internet to find out what it entailed, and it was the equivalent of discovering tator tot hot dish for the first time, with hundreds of recipes, variations and photos at the ready.
Let’s start with the name – King Ranch – a quick Google search will teach you that the source of this casserole’s name is unclear and unlikely named after the ranch that bears this name, mostly because it’s a cattle ranch and this dish is made with chicken. I heard an interpretation that this casserole was made to serve the ranch hands working long days at King Ranch, but the owners deny that’s the case. Whatever the reason for the name, it’s memorable.
So, what the heck is this dish? First, it hails from Texas so it’s going to hit you with Mexican flavors and some heat. That includes corn tortillas, chills, Rotel and chili powder. Second, it’s a casserole/hot dish so it’s going to gooey and hearty and calorie-laden so just sit back and enjoy and pretend calories don’t exist. This hot dish involves layering corn tortillas with chicken, cheese and a spicy white sauce, then baking for an hour. Simple enough if you have a little time on your hands and don’t mind chopping vegetables (this meal includes an onion, green pepper, mushrooms, garlic and optional chilis) as well as the meat from a roasting chicken.
With no further ado – here it is folks – King Ranch Casserole! It’s not the prettiest in presentation but my, is it delicious.
King Ranch Casserole
This casserole includes layers of corn tortillas, chicken, cheese and a spicy white sauce, baked together until heated through.
Somewhere along the way I became a person who almost always eats some sort of dessert after dinner – this could involve a cookie, ice cream or just a piece of chocolate. I feel the need to impress my love of dessert on others when they come over to eat, and in the summer months I like to rotate out the warm, dense desserts of winter for something lighter, brighter and more refreshing. Enter – lemon bars! A buttery cookie crust topped with a gooey lemon filling and sprinkled with powdered sugar is just what the doctor ordered after a BBQ or outdoor meal while you lounge on the deck. This dessert is great to make ahead and serve at room temperature – even if you’re not the patient type, these bars need a few hours to rest before you cut them to allow the lemon filling to firm up.
This light and refreshing dessert is great to make ahead and serve outside on a warm summer night.