Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Onion Mustard Pretzels

I bought a ton of different kinds of pretzels when I was in Lancaster with some friends last month.  One of the pretzel kinds I bought just didn't get eaten.  No one was really interested in it.  I thought, how do I make it so they eat it.  Nothing goes to waste around here.  I decided to flavor them up with mustard.

Onion Mustard Pretzels

1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup oil
2 generous teaspoons of onion powder
2 heaping (globbed) tablespoons of honey

Whisk it together.  Stir the coating into the pretzels in a large bowl.  Bake them spread out on a cookie sheet at 275F.  It took about a half of an hour to dry them out.  I wasn't totally convinced they were dried out either but I took them out of the oven and as they cooled they dried more and crisped up nice.

Gone, just like that.  Pretzels, what pretzels?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Blueberry Muffins

Rizzi from The New York Baking Company contacted me and asked me to do a review of these Silicone Baking Cups. The retail value of these cups is $9.95.  You can find them here at Amazon.

I buy cup cake liners all the time, especially when I see them on sale. I always wondered about these liners and whether or not I would like them. How exciting to be asked to do an honest review of them.  

Part of me was a bit nervous about them because of the silicone- would this be a good thing?  Would any chemicals go into the muffins?  This is my only concern.  After researching a bit, there is not a whole lot of information in regard to this.  Dr. Weil, who I happen to respect and trust. Read more about it here. (Yes, I twisted them (as suggested by Dr. Weil) to see if there was any white and, no, I did not see any white, which should mean there are no fillers.

As far as the performance of these muffins cups- love them.  The muffins raised up real nice and the muffins came out of the silicone very easily both when warmed and completely cooled.  The muffin cups were pretty easy to clean afterward.

The muffin cups are very economical. You buy them one time and don't have to keep buying cupcake liners.  The price of these silicone cups is pretty reasonable too- $9.95.

Blueberry Muffins

2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 1/2 cups blueberries, frozen
Preheat oven to 400F.  Mix the dry ingredients, set aside.  Mix the wet ingredients.  Mix the wet with the dry just until combined.  Add in frozen blueberries. Scoop batter into muffin cups, filling two thirds full. No need to spray these- the muffins come out easily.
Muffin removed when warm.
Muffin removed when completely cooled in muffin cup.

The muffin cups were given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mexican Polenta Bake

My kids and husband love what I call, Mexican Lasagna.  It is basically layers of tortillas with all the stuff we Americans associate with Mexican food- well at least I do.  Add a litttle cheese on top and voila!  Done! 

I had no tortilla's this time but plenty of polenta so I changed it up a bit. I like the end result but I would put a layer of polenta at the bottom as well to absorb some of those juices. As you can see by the pic below, it was a wee bit juicy.  I did have double the amount of salsa written in the recipe.  Why I did that, I dont know. 

I loved the layer of polenta!

Mexican Polenta Bake

1 jar of salsa (16 ounces)
1 pound beef or sausage (chorizo)
2 cups corn
1 can black beans or pinto, drained
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup roasted pablano peppers, if you like some heat (optional)
1 green or red pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 cups polenta
6 cups water
12 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
1 can black olives, sliced
s and p to taste

Sauté the chopped peppers and onions, place in casserole dish.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Sauté beef or sausage until browned.  Mix everything into the casserole dish, except the cheese and black olives.

In a saucepan place your water and sprinkle some salt in, bring it to a boil.  Slowly pour the polenta in kind of sprinkling and stirring at the same time, to avoid lumps.  I often will add my polenta just before boiling.  I find it lumps less. Cook the polenta on a lower heat, stirring often. It will thicken- then you know it is ready.  Pour polenta over the casserole, evenly.  Add cheese on top and cover and bake 30 to 40 minutes. 

Uncover, sprinkle with cheese and place back int he oven or under the broiler.  Sprinkle sliced black olives over top. Garnish with sour cream if desired.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Asparagus With Eggs

Something easy, something delicious, and something oh-so-Spring like.

Asparagus is one of my favorite things to eat in Spring.  Pair it with some eggs - even better.  I saw this idea at The Kitchn.  I like that site a lot.  VIsit it often.  Very practical recipes and ideas. I liked the idea of addising some Parmesan cheese.  I threw in the radishes because I love them and they look awful pretty there, dont they.  They tasted great together.

This is a very low cal meal.  Even with two eggs, it is about 275 for the whole meal.  How can you go wrong?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Creamy Parsnip Soup

If you asked me if I like parsnips last summer I would have said, nu uh.  A few years ago I bought some and they were so fragrant, almost imparting perfume after they were cooked.  Bleck.  Totally turned me off.  I was not interested in ever eating them again.

I always tell people if you try a vegetable and you don't like it, don't give up on it.  Try it again. Often it is how it is cooked or whether it is fresh or not.  These things can totally affect its taste.

I had to follow my own advice.

While on vacation to a quilt show in Lancaster, PA, I was very tempted to order a soup for lunch called Cream of Parsnip soup. Another entre won out.  My friend, however, ordered it and shared a bit of the soup with me. OMG.  Luscious, delicious, creamy velvety soup.  At that moment I thought I have to make a soup like this.  I did a search on the Internet for the soup and used a couple recipes kind of as a jumping off point.

Creamy Parsnip Soup

1 pound parsnips, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper
1 quart chicken stock*
crispy, crumbled bacon

In a soup pot sauté the parsnips, celery and onion in butter.  Sauté until lightly golden.  Add in garlic, cook one minute more.  Add is stock and bay leaves.  Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Just before serving add in the heavy cream.  Remove from heat and serve.

Garnish with bacon if you like.  Oh yeah, I like!

* I also used a cup of asparagus water that I had boiled some asparagus in.  You could definitely use vegetable stock for this recipe.  The flavor of parsnips is pretty strong so it will shine.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Almond Granola Bars

These granolas are chewy and tasty.  I really like the texture of these. They are not very sweet.  If you wish them to be sweeter add sugar or honey.  I don't mind them less sweet, really.  My one daughter loves them for breakfast.  My other daughter does not like them as much because they are not sweet enough.
Package them all up and ship them off in your kids lunches. Or grab one to go on the way to work.  They are something substantial for you to eat and are good for you.


I like to wrap them in wax paper. You can use stickers to seal the paper.

Almond Granola Bars

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2 1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup shredded coconut, sweetened
1/2 cup almond meal
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (optional
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix dry ingredients together, except for the chocolate chips.  Mix in the milk and butter.  It will be hard to mix, very dry but keep going, it will come together.  If you need to add a couple tablespoons of milk that will help. About mid way through the mixing process add in the chocolate chips.

Spread out in a greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes.  Edges should be golden.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Coconut Chocolate Bars

These are really good.  They are practically walking out of here.   My girls have been enjoying them in their lunches.

Coconut Chocolate Bars

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups flaked coconut (I used frozen grated, fresh coconut from Goya)
1 (12 ounce) package dark chocolate chips

In a 9 x 13 baking pan, combine melted butter, graham cracker crumbs and almond meal.  Mix together well.  Press evenly over bottom and place in preheated 350F oven for 15 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and pour the condensed milk/ coconut mixture evenly over top.  Place back in oven for 25 to 30 minutes.  The edges should be a bit golden.  If you use dry flaked coconut, place in oven for about 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over top.  Wait a few moments and spread the chocolate over top.  Let cool completely and cut with a sharp knife into squares.

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