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Monday, December 1, 2014

Layered Coconut Cookie Bars (or Pie)

For Thanksgiving I often make one apple cranberry pie and then try something new. This year I tried these cookie bars. At first I thought they were too sweet, even after switching the chocolate to dark instead of semi-sweet, but then they grew on me and they were popular with one of the littles in the household. They were a hit at a small family gathering, too! Also, I swear these get better after sitting a day or two.

I didn't make any high altitude adjustments, and I didn't notice any problems.

the last slice


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Layered Coconut Cookie Bars (or Pie)


Source: Half Baked Harvest
Yields a 9x13 pan or 2 "pies

1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 teas salt
3 teas vanilla extract, divided
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour (I used half white whole-wheat flour)
1 teas water
1 (13.5 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
4 T salted butter
1/3 c maple syrup
1 1/2 c roughly chopped walnuts (or pecans)
1 1/2 c shredded coconut (I used sweetened because that's the only thing I can find; I may try it with unsweetened coconut flakes next time)
2 c dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13 pan or 2 pie plates with parchment paper allowing the side to hang over the dish.

In a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, combine the unsalted butter, brown sugar, salt, and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Using a mixer beat the mixture until it is smooth, scraping down the sides a few times. Add the flour and water, and beat until combined.

Press the dough into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is lightly golden; remove from oven.

Meanwhile, make the "caramel" sauce. Heat salted butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Add the sweetened condensed milk and maple syrup. Cook the sauce over low heat for 8-10 minute, stirring often to prevent the caramel from burning and sticking to the pan. Cook until it thickens slightly and turns light golden in color. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Sprinkle the top of the cookie base with chocolate chips. Next, sprinkle on the nuts and 1 cup shredded coconut. Pour the "caramel" over top of everything in an even layer. If needed, use a spoon to gently spread the caramel. Sprinkle the top with the remaining coconut. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top is beginning to brown and caramelize. Serve either warm or cool.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Holiday Berry Fool

Just in case you aren't interested in making pies for the coming holidays, here is a fruit dessert that is at least partially seasonal. Although here in the US we can find raspberries in the stores nearly year round, I'm sad to announce my own garden is no longer producing. However, the recipe can use frozen berries of either kind.

 

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Holiday Berry Fools


Adapted from Cook's Country Magazine
Serves 8 or more

1 pound fresh or frozen cranberries
2 c fresh or frozen raspberries
1/2 c orange juice
1 c sugar, plus 2 T
pinch salt
4 c heavy cream, chilled
6 oz. raspberries for serving (better fresh, but frozen will work)

Bring cranberries, raspberries, orange juice, 1 c sugar and salt to boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer until cranberries are softened and the mixture looks like jam, about 15 minutes (because of high altitude it took more like 30 minutes for mine to become jammy). Allow the mixture to cool slightly and puree (with blender, food processor, or stick blender--which I used since I don't like to clean either of the others), then press the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve. Chill in refrigerator for 4 hours or more.

In an electric mixer, beat 3 cups cream to stiff peaks. Gently fold into cooled cranberry mixture until no streaks remain. Fold remaining raspberries into fool mixture. Spoon mixture into goblets or dessert bowls.

Mix remaining 1 c cream with 2 T sugar and beat to stiff peaks. Dollop cream onto fools and serve.

The fools can be prepared in advance and remain in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours. 

Note:

Because our household is small I didn't mix this all together at once. The cranberry mixture can sit in the refrigerator for several days. At serving time I beat cream to equal the amount of cranberry mix per person, mixed it together, and stirred in berries to taste. I'm sure this recipe can be halved as well.

Chicken and Sweet Potato Tin Foil Dinner

As a teen aged girl I attended church-sponsored camps most summers (I attended a couple as an adult leader, too). One of my favorite things about camp was eating at least one tin foil dinner consisting of a hamburger patty, and sliced potatoes, carrots and onions. Pretty simple fare, really, but my parents never cooked them in the hundreds of camp fires my growing-up family built. In later years when we lived in a location that allowed back yard fires, my own family enjoyed them as our traditional New Year's Eve dinner. These we made a bit more complex adding herbs such as thyme and/or rosemary as well as a splash of beer. I recently tried a foil-baked dinner, cooked in the oven, which uses sweet potatoes and chicken as well as other flavorful additions.


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Chicken and Sweet Potato Tin Foil Dinner


Adapted from The Make-Ahead Cook and Cook's Country Magazine
Serves 4

To make sure the chicken cooks evenly, buy breasts of the same size. My butcher offers only enormous pieces of meat, so I chose to use two chicken tenders per foil pack.

5 T olive oil
6 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 T grated fresh ginger
1/4 teas red pepper flakes
3/4-1 pound sweet potato, approximately, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
4-8 radishes, trimmed and quartered
2 celery ribs, quartered lengthwise and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 large red onion, sliced 1/2 inch thick, layers separated
3/4 teas table salt
pepper to taste
4 6-oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed (or use equivalent amount tenders)
2 T rice vinegar
2 T minced fresh cilantro, optional

Place oil, garlic, ginger, and pepper flakes in a small bowl and microwave until garlic beings to brown. In a large bowl combine sweet potato slices, radishes, celery, onion, salt and the garlic oil mix.

Spray the centers of 4 20-inch long pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil (I used regular strength) with vegetable oil spray. 

Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with 1/8 teas additional salt and season with pepper.

Place one sheet of foil on the counter and arrange approximately 1/8 (or so) of sweet potato slices in 2 rows. Lay 1 chicken breast or 2 chicken tenders on the sweet potato slices. Place 1/4 of remaining vegetables around the chicken. If you have remaining sweet potatoes place them on top of the chicken. Repeat with remaining 3 sheets of foil. If you have additional oil mix drizzle it on top. Bring the sides of the foil together and crimp tightly, folding the foil over a couple of times. You want to leave some head space in the packs. Crimp the remaining two sides, again leaving as much space as possible while tightly closing the foil.

Refrigerate the packs for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Adjust oven rack to the lowest position and preheat to 475F. Arrange the packs on a rimmed baking sheet and cook until chicken registers 160 degrees, 20-25 minutes. To check temperature the book recommends poking a hole with an instant read thermometer which will release steam. (Authors also recommend using a second 20 inch piece of foil to wrap over existing pack if the chicken isn't cooked. I can't bring myself to waste that much foil, so I just carefully opened one foil pack, watching for steam, and checked the temperature. With care the foil can be crimped a second time.) Let chicken rest for 3 minutes in foil pack.

Transfer the food to individual dinner places, carefully opening the foil. Drizzle the vinegar over the chicken and vegetables and sprinkle with cilantro. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Almond Joy Rice Krispy Treats

Now, here's a rice crispy treat for grown-ups. See here for another option.



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Almond Joy Rice Crispy Treats


Source: The America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook

1 c sweetened, shredded coconut
1 c sliced or slivered almonds
1/2 c semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (whichever you prefer)
3 T unsalted butter
10 oz marshmallows
1/2 teas vanilla extract
1/4 teas salt
5 c toasted rice crispy cereal

Prepare your pan by coating with cooking spray. A 9x13 pan results in 1-inch-thick treats, and 8x8 yields 2-inch-thick treats. I used an 8x8 in the picture above, but found they were too thick to eat easily. Something in between might be perfect.

Toast coconut and almonds in a large skillet over medium heat until they start to brown and they become fragrant. Shake the pan occasionally. Start checking at 4 or 5 minutes--total time will depend on your stove.

Melt butter in Dutch oven over low heat. Add marshmallows, vanilla, and salt and cook, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth, about 6 minutes. Off heat, stir in cereal, toasted coconut, toasted almonds, and chocolate chips until incorporated. Scrape mixture into prepared pan and press into even layer using greased spatula. Let cool at room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Store in an airtight container, if there are any left to save for later!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Raspberry Corn Muffins

This will likely be the last raspberry recipe until next year. We feel fortunate to have enjoyed such abundance.


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Raspberry Corn Muffins


Source: food52
Yield: 14-18 muffins


1 1/2 c flour (all purpose or substitute white wheat for half)
1 c granulated sugar
3/4 c cornmeal
1 T baking powder (or a scant T at high altitudes)
3/4 teas salt
2 eggs
1/2 c unsalted butter, melted
1/2 c milk
1/2 sour cream
1 pint fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 350F and prepare muffin tins with paper liners, butter, or cooking spray. In a large bowl mix dry ingredients. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, butter, and milk. Stir into dry ingredients and mix well for about 1 minute. Stir in sour cream until mostly incorporated. Gently fold in the raspberries.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 c full. Bake for 20-25 minutes (depending on your oven, it took about 17 minutes today). Test with a toothpick, making sure it comes out clean. Remove from oven; after 5 minutes place on cooling rack. Eat while warm or at room temperature.




Thursday, October 23, 2014

Zucchini Ribbons and Almond Pesto Salad

With some strategic placement of old sheets and assorted other row covers, I was able to keep below freezing temperatures from totally wiping out my zucchini plants. Unlike many who may be tired of zucchini production by now, I'm still happy to have a harvest since I didn't plant my seeds until August (in a successful attempt to thwart squash bugs). Here is one more zucchini recipe to enjoy this growing season as well as those in the future.


 

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Zucchini Ribbons and Almond Pesto Salad


Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
Serves 4

1/2 c almonds, toasted and cooled
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
pinch red pepper flakes
2 T lemon juice
1/4 teas salt
1/3 c olive oil
2 pds medium zucchini, trimmed (longer squash are better)

Grind the almonds, Parmesan, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a food processor until they are finely chopped. Add the lemon juice, salt and olive oil and pulse a few times, until combined. Pour the dressing in the bottom of a large salad bowl, and turn the bowl so the dressing rolls up and around the sides of the bowl.

Using a vegetable peeler (a Y-peeler or a mandolin work best, but any peeler will do) slice the zucchini into ribbons about 1/16 of an inch thick. Work from the top to bottom of each zucchini. Place the ribbons in the dressing-coated bowl.

Toss the ribbons gently with your hands, attempting to coat the zucchini as evenly as possible. Serve at room temperature. The longer the salad sits out, the more relaxed the ribbons will be. I think this is better when the ribbons are on the crisp side.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Fruit Crisp

Before fruit season is completely over, here's a delicious crisp. I love the cardamom in it. The source is lost in the sands of time, but I'm glad the recipe itself isn't!




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Fruit Crisp


Yields a 9x13 pan of crisp, but the recipe is easily halved and baked in an 8x8 pan

8-9 c sliced, peeled cooking apples, pears, peaches (or frozen unsweetened peach slices), or apricots
4-6 T granulated sugar
1 c regular rolled oats
1 c all-purpose flour
1 c packed brown sugar
1 teas cinnamon
1/2 teas ground cardamom
1/2 c butter
1 c nuts of your choice (walnuts are a good bet)

Preheat oven to 375F. Place fruit in a 9x13 baking dish. Stir in the granulated sugar.

Combine the oats, brown sugar, flour, and spices. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in nuts. Sprinkle topping over filling.

Bake crisp for approximately 40 minutes or until fruit is tender and topping is golden. Serve with vanilla ice cream.