Thursday, April 29, 2010

An Ellie Krieger Recipe Roundup!

I love my copy of Ellie Krieger's So Easy. Since I received the book four months ago, I have made at least fifteen of the recipes and they have all been a hit. There are so many reasons why I love this book. First of all, the recipes really are "so easy". Secondly, I love all the nutritional facts and tips she provides in each recipe. But most of all, I love how each recipe is so well tested and executed. The recipes measure out perfectly, with no waste, leading me to have complete confidence in Ellie's expertise. I know that when I commit to making one of her recipes, it is going to come together perfectly. Definitely a sign of well-tested recipes!

This book is just about attached to my hip these days. I have a lot of Ellie's recipes lined up in the coming weeks, but this post is a roundup of the six recipes I tried this week, all quick, easy and delicious.

My daughter and her friends went absolutely nuts for Ellie's Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Treats made with crispy brown rice cereal (shown below), natural peanut butter, honey and chocolate chips. I made a half batch, subbing the dried cherries for chocolate chips per Ellie's instruction, and the half batch made 12 generous sized bars. They were gone in a matter of minutes!

The kids loved them and I was happy to have fooled them into a healthier after school snack. I am a peanut butter fanatic and these really hit the spot. Hands down the best rice crispy treat ever. It was a good thing the kids ate them all or else I would have.

In an effort to use up some of the nuts in my pantry, I made Ellie's Cherry-Almond-Chocolate Clusters. This recipe is about as easy as it gets and I was really blown away with the results. A simple combination of toasted almonds, dried cherries and melted chocolate, these treats are addictive. It's like a homemade candy bar with crunch from the almonds, sweet chewiness from the dried cherries and lots of yummy chocolate. The clusters are a very generous size and really satisfy your sweet tooth.

With some leftover wontons, I made Ellie's Powdered Sugar Crisps. A couple of wonton wrappers, a tad bit of canola oil, a hot oven and a dusting of confectioners' sugar and we were happily crunching away! A fun crunchy treat that would be even better with maybe a sprinkling of cinnamon and some fruit salsa on the side. I would definitely make these again.

I love making smoothies and was very happy to try Ellie's Cherry-Vanilla Smoothie. A gorgeous purple hue, this was by far our favorite smoothie in the book. The recipe made a huge amount, so both me and my son had a glass and then we poured the remainder into popsicle molds. I'm anxious to see how the smoothie tastes as a popsicle. I'm crossing my fingers and will tell you all about the results on Monday's Popsicle of the Week post!!

For an indulgent breakfast treat, I made the Broccoli-Cheddar Breakfast Bake......all for myself! Can you believe that no one else in my house likes broccoli? They should all be committed! The breakfast bake is made the night before, sits in the fridge overnight, and is great to have in the morning because you can just throw it in the oven! I really enjoyed having such a nice breakfast and not having to do any of the work in the morning. The casserole was a combination of eggs, milk, whole wheat baguette, cheese, onion, and broccoli. I plan on sharing this with my Mom................. good thing she likes broccoli!
NOTE: There is one down side to this recipe, if you can call it that. It requires 8 whole eggs and also 8 additional egg whites. I'm not usually a fan of having 8 egg yolks leftover and I know that many of you feel the same way. All I can say is that this was one tasty casserole that I would be happy to make again. I think this recipe is worth having 8 egg yolks leftover.

The sauce on Ellie's Asian Chicken Wrap is genius and will take the blah's out of your normal everyday brown bag lunch. Ellie makes a delicious, spicy, slightly sweet, Asian-inspired sauce that really jazzes up any plain old sandwich. The sauce is a mixture of 3 tablespoons plain Greek-style nonfat yogurt, 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, and 1/4 teaspoon Thai-style chili sauce (such as Sriracha).

That sauce is like liquid gold and I'm really lovin' it!! I was heavy-handed with the Sriracha because I wanted my sauce to really deliver in the heat department. This sauce was perfect in Ellie's Asian Chicken Wraps with grilled chicken, sliced red pepper, and napa cabbage. I happily ate two of these sandwiches for lunch this week and can't wait for my husband (The Sriracha King) to try it out. Best of all, these wraps can be made ahead and are even better the next day. I have a feeling this will be my husband's new favorite lunch box treat.

I am submitting this Asian Chicken Wrap to my friend Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sundays roundup.

I have a couple more recipes to share from So Easy. You can find the first three recipes listed on this post online at the Food Network, or by clicking on their link within this post. The last three recipes have not yet been posted, so there is no link. I did, however, include the recipe for the Asian-inspired sauce because everyone should try it. It is some good stuff!

In the meantime, I'm loving Ellie's recipes so much that I just ordered her first book, The Food You Crave( $8.99). I am anxiously awaiting it's arrival, checking my mail box everyday. There is nothing better than receiving a new cookbook in the mail. It makes me do a happy dance:D

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Potato Cumin Curry

At the moment, I am in love with curries and this Potato Cumin Curry is no exception. It really is amazing what a can of coconut milk and a couple tablespoons of curry powder can do for the humble potato. Over at I Heart Cooking Clubs we are celebrating spices this week, with the challenge to use one or more spice from our spice cabinet. Sounds like the perfect excuse to whip up another tasty curry recipe.

This potato curry is so simple, quick and delicious. It is a combination of russet potatoes, chickpeas, coconut milk, curry powder, cumin, and saffron. A quick one pot meal, that comes together quickly and provides instant comfort in a bowl. Extremely filling, this is a delicious meal that I will make again.

Potato Cumin Curry
Adapted from Kitchen Express by Mark Bittman
Serves 4-6
Peel and cut four baking potatoes into half-inch pieces. In oil, cook a thinly sliced onion until just soft, about two minutes; add a couple of tablespoons of curry powder, a tablespoon of cumin, and a pinch of saffron. Add the potatoes and toss to coat with the spices. Then add a can of coconut milk; fill the can with water and add that, too. Bring the mixture to a steady bubble; cover and cook until the potatoes are almost tender; about eight minutes. Add a drained can of chickpeas. Combine well and continue cooking until the potatoes are tender and the beans are warmed through. Serve topped with freshly chopped cilantro.

Notes/Results: I really liked this recipe. It was delicious and comforting, not to mention a very tasty one-pot meal. I made a few changes, using a can of lite coconut milk and leftover chicken stock instead of the water. I didn't have cilantro, so I garnished with chives. This curry was great served right away, but was much thicker and tastier the next day once the flavors had a chance to meld. This is definitely a recipe that I will make again.

This is my submission for I Heart Cooking Clubs. We're really spicing things up in the kitchen this week, click on the link to check it out!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Popsicle of the Week: Choco-Coco Pops

Popsicle of the Week is going to be a new feature here at Stirring the Pot. As a family, we LOVE popsicles. We eat them all year round, but can really go through them in the summertime. Awhile back I bought two cookbooks dedicated entirely to popsicles and bookmarked almost every recipe in each book. In an effort to cook my way through these two books, I will be featuring a new popsicle recipe each week! I'm hoping we will find some new family favorites!

There are many popsicle molds for sale and there is even a new kitchen appliance for sale called the Zoku Quick Pop Maker ($49.95 @ Williams Sonoma). The Zoku is a fun product that is getting rave reviews for making popsicles in a mere 7 minutes. I'm really looking forward to getting one of these in the next few weeks, but for now I have a few different popsicle molds that I can use.

For these Choco-Coco Pops, I used these Mickey Mouse Popsicle Molds by Tupperware. There are six plastic molds and each mold holds around 2.5 - 3 ounces of liquid. This is a perfect size for children, but a bigger mold would be nicer for adults. Sometimes it can be difficult to get the popsicle to release from it's mold, but these Tupperware molds released very easily.

I've collected popsicle molds over the years, but you really don't need any special equipment. You can make popsicles from everyday household items such as muffin tins, cupcake liners, paper cups, shot glasses, and juice glasses. Paper cups are especially nice because there is no fooling around with a mold, trying to get the popsicle to release itself. If using paper, you can simply tear the paper away and have at it. Wooden popsicle sticks are widely available everywhere, namely at places like Hobby Lobby and/or Michael's. I have even seen people use straws, cocktail stirrers, cocktail picks, bamboo skewers, lollypop sticks, chopsticks, plastic spoons, plastic toys, pretzel rods, chocolate rolled wafer cookies, biscotti, and cinnamon sticks as popsicle holders.

Today I made Ellie Krieger's Choco-Coco Pops from her new book, So Easy. The recipe is a mixture of one can lite coconut milk, 3 ounces dark chocolate, sugar, and vanilla. The mixture is cooked on the stovetop until the chocolate melts and the mixture is thickened. Once it has cooled, it is poured into popsicle molds and chilled for four hours. They were extremely tasty and are going fast, even on a cold and gloomy day like today!

*The reigning "Popsicle King"- Jackson

I have two cookbooks that I will be using for Popsicle of the Week. The first is called Pops! Icy Treats for Everyone by Krystina Castella ($11.48 Barnes and Noble). This book has chapters on Healthy Energy Pops, Fruit Juice Pops, Soda Fountain Pops, Cream and Pudding Pops, Coffee and Tea Pops, and Cocktail Pops. I think that this book is more for the adults and has some really nice, unique, and creative recipes.

The second cookbook, my favorite of the two, and the most family-friendly, is called Ice Pops "Recipes for Fresh and Flavorful Frozen Treats" by Shelly Kaldunski. I found my copy at Williams-Sonoma, but so far it is not available online at Williams-Sonoma, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble. I think it was just released and should become available shortly. This book is basic, easy, and has fantastic recipes for both children and adults. There are chapters for Fruity Ice Pops, Chocolate Ice Pops, Creamy Ice Pops, New Flavors for Ice Pops, and another chapter on Creative Shapes for Ice Pops.

Stay tuned.....there is going to be a fantastic giveaway for Shelly Kaldunski's Ice Pops Cookbook!

Popsicle of the Week will be featured each Monday for the next 12 weeks at least......... possibly longer!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Green Pea Salad

Moss's was an old steakhouse on the downtown strip of my hometown in Elyria, Ohio. Elyria, Ohio was never and is still not a mecca of fine dining. In fact, when I was a kid we had the four basic fast food chains: McDonald's, Burger King, KFC and Pizza Hut. We had the neighborhood Friendly's, which me and my girlfriends wore out on a regular basis. We had two dining establishments in town and they were both steakhouses. One steakhouse was family-owned and the other was a chain restaurant. Back in the day, everyone use to go downtown to Moss's, because it was family-owned unlike that steakhouse out by the mall. I'm sure Moss's served up some wonderful steaks, but all I remember was their pea salad. Gosh was that stuff good!

As soon as you would take your seat at Moss's, the waitress would bring out a basket of soft bread and a jar of pea salad. Moss's pea salad was a mixture of peas, mayo, and shredded cheddar cheese. The idea was to take a scoop of the pea salad and spread it on the soft bread. It may sound strange at first, but it really is delicious. That darn pea salad was my entire reason for going to Moss's.

Imagine my surprise when I received my recent issue of Cooking with Paula Deen and there was a recipe for Pea Salad. I was even more surprised to find that Paula had actually lightened up the recipe. Yeah Paula!

Green Pea Salad
Adapted from the May Issue of Cooking with Paula Deen
Makes 4 servings
2 cups fresh or frozen peas, thawed (I used used frozen)
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
3 strips cooked and crumbled turkey bacon (I used regular bacon)
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayo
1 tablespoon chopped shallot
2 teaspoons rice win vinegar
In a large bowl, combine peas, egg. bacon, bell pepper, mayo, shallot, and vinegar. Toss gently to combine. Serve immediately.

Notes/Results: This is a great springtime or even summertime side dish! Instead of having the standard potato or macaroni salad at your next cookout or barbecue, try this green pea salad. It is the perfect addition to your grilled, barbecued, or even fried chicken. I really like how Paula lightened up this recipe by cutting the mayo with a bit of vinegar. The little chunks of egg and bacon add delicious flavor and color to the dish. This green pea salad is going to be a new side dish here at Stirring the Pot. It was a hit with everybody. Best of all, I don't even feel bad about eating it!

I am submitting this tasty green pea salad to Reeni at Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice for her Side Dish Showdown.

I am also submitting this to Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sundays roundup, a weekly roundup of soups, salads and sandwiches.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chile Bisque

I have a passion for any kind of hot and spicy food. Say the words "hot and spicy" and I'm totally on board. I was beyond excited when I saw this recipe for Chile Bisque while paging through my copy of Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything Vegetarian. An entire soup made out of chile peppers? How come I had never heard of this before? I bookmarked this recipe right away and knew that I had to try it ASAP!

The bisque consists of 6 ancho chiles, 1 chipotle chile, olive oil, garlic, long-grain rice, veggie stock, bay leaves, and cream. The recipe is a tad bit time-consuming, mostly because the chiles need to soak for at least an hour. However, once you have soaked the chiles, everything comes together pretty quickly.

Chile Bisque
Adapted by HTCEV by Mark Bittman
*Serves 4 (easily serves 6-8)
5 or 6 (3 ounces) dried ancho chiles
1 chipotle chile, dried or canned (don't use too much of the adobo if canned)
2 tablespoons EVVO
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup medium or long-grained rice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 quart vegetable stock or water
2 bay leaves
1 cup cream
Put a skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. Toast the dried chiles until darkened slightly and fragrant, about 2 minutes per side. If you're using canned chipotle, set it aside for later. Put the dried chiles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Use a plate to keep them submerged if necessary. Let the chiles soak until soft, an hour or so.

After the chiles have been soaking for about 30 minutes, put the oil in a deep skillet or medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until soft, about a minute. Add the canned chipotle, if you're using it, and the rice and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Continue cooking and stirring until the rice starts to turn translucent, about 2 minutes more.

Add the stock and the bay leaves and bring to a boil. Lower the heat so that soup bubbles gently, cover, and cook undisturbed until the rice is very tender, about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat.

When the chiles are soft, drain them, carefully remove their stems and seeds, and add them to the soup pot. Fish out the bay leaves. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pan. Or cool the mixture slightly (hot soup is dangerous), pass it through a food mill or pour it into a blender, and puree carefully. (The soup may be made ahead to this point, cooled, and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve cold or reheat it gently). Add the cream and turn the heat under the pot to medium. Gently reheat the soup until hot but not boiling. Cook, uncovered, for another 3 - 5 minutes, until slightly thickened (if it's too thick, add a little water or stock). Taste, adjust the seasoning, then serve.

Notes/Results: I love the gorgeous pumpkin color! The bisque is packed with smoky flavor and is probably not for everyone. It is definitely hot and spicy, but the main flavor that comes through is the smokiness from the peppers. There was no way that I could eat the soup straight up, so I garnished it with some fried tortilla strips, grated monterey jack cheese, and chives. Even with the garnishes, this is a very strong-flavored soup and is probably best served in small portions. If you love smoky flavors, then this is a great recipe for you. I did like the soup, but am learning that smoky flavors aren't my personal favorite. I would recommend this soup to someone who likes both spicy hot and smoky. It is a gorgeous and unique recipe.

I am submitting this recipe to I Heart Cooking Clubs for Potluck Week!

I am also submitting this recipe to my friend Deb over at Kahakai Kitchen for her weekly Souper Sunday roundup!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Restaurant Review: Wallace Station

Wallace Station
3854 Old Frankfort Pike
Versailles, KY 40383-9763

Yesterday was both my husband's birthday and also our wedding anniversary. We celebrated on Friday afternoon with dinner and a movie. We don't eat out often, but when we do, I love to go to Wallace Station. A short country drive down scenic Old Frankfort Pike and we arrive at the most charming restaurant, Wallace Station.

Wallace Station is located right in the middle of horse country and is surrounded by the most gorgeous horse farms. Locals flock to Wallace Station for it's charming venue and gorgeous scenery. The menu is simple, fresh and local. There are about 20 sandwiches on freshly home-baked bread, soups, salads, freshly baked pastries, pies and sweets, and old-fashioned ice cream. Monday nights are famous for their special Fried Chicken Dinner. I've never been, but hear that it is next to impossible to get a seat. On Friday nights, they have a Fish Fry.
We like to sit out back, on the deck and under the willow trees, with a gorgeous view of the bluegrass and this old barn.
You can also sit inside, with the ever-charming diner decor and beautiful old wooden floors.

I just love the old-fashioned decor, which is so warm and inviting.
Food is ordered in line, deli style, where you can then take a seat and it will be brought out to you. On this particular day, they were extremely crowded. The line was at least 20-25 minutes long. April is the beginning of horse racing season and Wallace Station is located near Keeneland, where all the horse races take place. Lots of people come from near and far to attend the horse races at Keeneland, making Wallace Station a very popular eatery during this time.
Wallace Station uses all local ingredients, including local KY beef. Many of their sandwiches are designed with tradition southern themes. They have both hot and cold sandwiches, specializing in their wonderful beef burgers. I am a huge fan of their Pimento Cheese Burger, but I wanted to try something different this time around. I ordered The Big Brown, their take on the traditional Kentucky Hot Brown. The Big Brown burger consisted of ham, bacon, tomato, white cheddar sauce and Parmesan cheese. When my burger arrived, my husband did a double take. I think all that meat was beckoning him and he realized the error of his ways. I looked down at my burger, "the meat fest" that it was and decided that I would switch with him. There was no way I could eat all that meat.
My husband, loves their Meatloaf Burger, but also decided to go with something different this time around. He ordered their Santa Anita Burger with pepper jack cheese, bacon, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, and spicy chipotle mayo. He liked this burger, but we both decided that we ordered wrong and were happy to switch. In turn, he was very happy with his meaty Big Brown Burger and I was very happy with the Santa Anita Burger. I loved the spicy pepper jack with the chipotle mayo. Both burgers were $8.95 each and come with a side of chips. My husband ordered a lemon bar, which we shared, and with the two drinks the grand total was $27.00. Although the price is somewhat high for sandwiches and drinks, the scenery and experience makes this well worth it. Wallace Station is a wonderful place, full of character, and we adore going there.
I was happy to see that Guy Fieri, of the Food Network, had just dined here on March 10th of this year. Turns out Wallace Station will be featured on Diners, Drive-In's and Dives in the near future. Definitely a great place to eat if you are ever in the area!

In the meantime, I'm crossing my fingers to go back on a Monday night and try that Fried Chicken Dinner - Yum!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Breakfast Sausage Throwdown and Pioneer Woman's Biscuits and Gravy

For Easter, I bought an entire leg of pork from the butcher. The leg of pork itself was about 20 pounds. Six pounds of the leg became a fresh ham for Easter. The remainder of the leg was ground, equaling about 12 pounds of lean ground pork, as well as two meaty ham hocks. I thought a Throwdown featuring breakfast sausage would be a fun way to use up some of the ground pork, so I opened up my Mark Bittman How To Cook Everything and got to work.

Disclaimer: The leg of pork is a very lean cut. Bittman calls for you to add 1/2 to 3/4 pound fresh pork fatback into 2 pounds of lean boneless pork. I skipped this step in both variations simply because I wanted to keep things on the lean side.

Using Mark Bittmann's, How To Cook Everything, I settled on two breakfast sausage variations. As a jumping off point, I chose Bittman's Basic Breakfast Sausage using the traditional flavoring of sage (pictured above, top photo). To spice things up a bit, I chose his Spicy Sausage with parsley, garlic, ground coriander, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne (pictured below, third photo). I wanted to see which one we preferred in a taste test. I thought for sure I knew which one would win, but I was really surprised by the results.

Bittman's Basic Breakfast Sausage was a combination of one pound ground pork, 1/2 teaspoon dried sage, salt, pepper, and a dash of nutmeg. We served this sausage with scrambled eggs and biscuits. The basic breakfast sausage was superb. It had all the familiar flavors of traditional breakfast sausage, only it was much more fresh and really much better than buying it in the supermarket. There was nearly any fat left in the pan and we really didn't miss all the calories. This is definitely a wonderful way to enjoy breakfast sausage in a healthier way.

Bittman's Spicy Sausage(photo directly above) was also made with one pound ground pork, but was combined with 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon ground dried thyme, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne. The blend of spices smelled terrific and you could easily see how flavor packed this sausage was going to be. Both my husband and myself love spicy and flavor-packed foods, so we were excited. I served this spicy sausage with Pioneer Woman's Biscuits and Gravy.

Pioneer Woman's Biscuit and Gravy is a quick and easy recipe, link found HERE. After cooking the sausage patties, Ree uses about 2-3 tablespoons of the sausage fat, whisks in 2 tablespoons of flour, and then adds in about 1 cup of milk. The homemade sausage that I used didn't yield any fat, so I opted for 2 tablespoons of butter, followed by 2 tablespoons flour, and 1 cup of milk. We loved this traditional Southern breakfast. It was quick, easy and delicious!

This is my submission to this roundup at Foodie Friends of the Pioneer Woman! If you would like to see what everyone else submitted, please click HERE to be directed to the FFPW site.


I was expecting the spicy version to win, but it was the old familiar taste of the basic breakfast sausage that won out in the end!

Which sausage do you think you would prefer?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Breakfast on the Go: Ellie Krieger Style

I have a MAJOR LOVE for all things breakfast. In fact, I think that breakfast may just be my most favorite meal of the day. I have a ton of breakfast/brunch recipes bookmarked in cookbooks and online and it is about time I cook some of those up. In an effort to make some grab and go breakfasts that are healthy; I made two treats to share with you, both recipes of Ellie Krieger.

Whether you are dashing out the door or enjoying a leisurely morning, you will love to look in your refrigerator and see these gorgeous Muesli Parfaits. Yogurt, milk, oats, toasted almonds, honey, vanilla and mixed berries....what's not to love? Ellie suggests making them the night before and grabbing them in the morning. I made mine the morning of and they were fine to eat straight away. The recipe makes four servings, coming in at 300 calories, 10 grams of fat, 13 grams of protein, and 6 grams of fiber. They are gorgeous, delicious, and super duper filling. I almost couldn't eat the whole parfait (which is rare for me)!

Muesli Parfaits
Adapted from So Easy by Ellie Krieger, also online at Food Network
1/2 cup unsalted raw almonds
1 cup nonfat milk
1 cup nonfat plain yogurt (I used Greek Yogurt)
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups mixed berries, fresh or frozen (strawberries hulled and halved)

Toast the almonds in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Chop them coarsely.
In a medium bowl, stir together the milk, yogurt, oats, honey, and vanilla. Divide the oat mixture evenly among 4 small dishes or parfait glasses. Top each with 1/2 cup of berries, then 2 tablespoons of the chopped almonds. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. The parfaits will keep up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

I have about 6 kinds of granola bars in my pantry (proof of my breakfast bar obsession). Naturally, I wasn't hungry for any of those bars and quite frankly, they probably aren't very healthy anyway. I decided to make Ellie's Walnut and Dried Cherry Bars. I have been wanting to make these bars for a LONG time and each time I am missing an ingredient. This time was no different. Halfway through the recipe I realized that I had no applesauce. Drats! Not letting anything get in my way this time around, I decided to make my own applesauce. A quick glance to the fruit bowl and I smiled. There was one apple left. Thankfully, one apple makes about 1/2 cup applesauce, which was more than enough.

Walnut and Dried Cherry Bars
Adapted from So Easy by Ellie Krieger, also online at Food Network
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour OR regular whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg, beaten to blend
1 large egg white
3/4 cup chopped dried tart cherries
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
Cooking spray
1/4 cup "fruit only" apricot preserves

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, wheat germ, cinnamon, and salt.
In another bowl, whisk together the honey, applesauce, oil, egg, and egg white until well combined. Stir in the oat mixture until well combined. Add the dried cherries and walnuts.
Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Spread the mixture in the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. When the bars are nearly done, put the preserves in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. As soon as the bars come out of the oven, brush with the preserves. Cool completely and cut into 12 bars, about 4x1-1/2 inches each.

Makes 12 servings, 230 calories, 9 grams fat, 4 grams protein 34g carbs, 2 grams fiber

Notes/Results: I bought Ellie's So Easy cookbook a couple months ago and I love it. The recipes are easy, well-written, and all of them have been great. These two breakfast recipes may just be some of my favorites in the book. The muesli parfaits are delicious and something healthy that you would actually look forward to eating. I love that they keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. The parfait itself is delicious, with a mild sweetness from the fresh fruit. I plan on making these a lot because they are gorgeous, taste great and are healthy and filling (which is a hard to find combination). In fact, I might just make some for the girls at work this weekend!
The walnut and cherry bars take a little bit of work to put together, but are SO VERY DELICIOUS that it is well-worth it, especially when you consider that you'll have twelve homemade breakfast bars. These bars should come with a warning though: THEY ARE ADDICTIVE! Yes, it will be hard to stop with one. You will most likely go back for another one. They are moist, sweet,tart and chewy (almost like a breakfast cookie)! I will definitely be making both of these recipes again as I really loved them both!

Happy Eating!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ultimate Banana Pudding

Cool, creamy, luscious, sinful decadence. Sound good to you? Banana pudding just might be my favorite all-time dessert. Period. Yes, I love chocolate. Yes, I love peanut butter. However, there is just something about the cool, smooth, creaminess of banana pudding. It feels so good in your mouth that you just have to keep on eating it, unless you don't like bananas and if that's the case then I'm sorry for you. I truly am. You're missing out, but hey....more for the rest of us, right?

Most banana puddings use Nilla Wafers as a base. This recipe uses these delicious Pepperidge Farm Chessman cookies. You'll need two packages of the cookies if you want to fill a 9 x 13 baking dish. I tried to cut out some of the calories and fat by using only one package of cookies and using an 8 x 8 baking dish. Some of your cookies may be broken. No problem. Put the broken ones on the bottom like I did here. No one will ever see them.

Pile on your bananas. I will tell you that there is always a debate about whether you should use green-tipped bananas or freckled ripe bananas. I guess it depends on your taste. In my case, I like freckled ripe bananas for plain eating. However, this pudding is already sweet enough, so I like to use the green-tipped bananas for this recipe. I also prefer the way the green-tipped bananas hold their shape.

Onto the luscious part. The filling is a mixture of instant french vanilla pudding, sweetened condensed milk, cream cheese and either cool whip or equal parts sweetened whipped cream. I used a plain vanilla pudding, reduced fat cream cheese and cool whip. NOTE: DO NOT TEST THE FILLING! YOU WILL HAVE ONE SPOONFUL AND THEN ANOTHER AND WELL, BEFORE YOU KNOW IT.....IT MIGHT BE GONE!

Pour and smooth the filling on top of the Chessman cookies and sliced bananas. Fill your baking dish and smooth over the top. Arrange the remaining Chessman cookies on top, pushing them into the filling so that they will soften.

Cover and refrigerate for as long as you can stand it. The pudding is best if it is allowed to sit overnight in the refrigerator. The cookies will soften overnight, making it even more luscious and delicious the next day.

Completely sinful, smooth and creamy deliciousness! Probably one of my favorite desserts ever! You can find the recipe on Recipezaar, by clicking HERE.

A perfect no-bake summertime dessert for your cook-outs, BBQ's, or even just a nice family dinner.