Thursday, April 26, 2012

Crunchy Granola (Bars)

The Menu:
Crunchy Granola Bars

The Original Recipe:
I have been searching for that nice crunchy granola for awhile now. I have one recipe that I like (Maple Raisin Granola), but it calls for pure maple syrup, and I do not always have that on had. My friend made this recipe, and I just happened to stop by her house that day. Her house smelled amazing! She used coconut oil instead of the vegetable oil (I used canola when I made it). It gave it this nice coconut taste. I couldn't stop eating it. I didn't make it into bars (she didn't either), but instead just kept mixing it up while it cooked. I added chopped nuts, and the last 5 minutes I added dried cranberries to it. Take it out, cool, and then mix again. I have eaten this by the handful when I walk by or I have also eaten it as cereal with some milk. No matter how you eat it (topped with yougurt?) it is delicious and crunchy. This is not your average floppy, mushy, chewy granola recipe. This is hard and crunchy at its best.

Crunchy Granola Bars (America’s Test Kitchen)

7 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup vegetable oil (or coconut oil)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole almonds, pecans, walnuts or peanuts (I used almonds)
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (optional)

1. Adjust oven rack to the middle of the oven and set the temperature to 375 degrees.

2. Line an 18 x 13 inch rimmed baking pan with aluminum foil.

3. Combine the oats, oil and salt in a large bowl and mix until the oats are evenly coated. Transfer the mixture to the baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until pale gold, 20-25 minutes. Remove the oats and lower the oven temp to 300 degrees.

4. Place the nuts in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Or just chop coarsely with a big sharp knife (watch your fingers!).

5. Combine the honey and brown sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and cinnamon (if using).

6. Combine the oats, nuts, and honey mixture in a large bowl and stir with a large rubber spatula until the oats are thoroughly coated with the honey mixture. Spray the baking sheet (still with foil sling) with non-stick spray then transfer the granola mixture to the prepared baking sheet and spread in an even layer. Spray a large metal spatula (like the ones used for cake frosting) or a square dish with non-stick spray and firmly press the mixture into the pan. Make a flat, tight, and even layer. Bake until golden, about 35-40 minutes.

7. Cool in the baking sheet, on a wire rack, for 15 minutes before cutting into bars. I used a pastry scraper to cut which was great…no dealing with a knife handle hitting the rim of the baking sheet. Cut the bars all the way through (about 2 inches by 3 inches is a good size) and then allow the granola bars to completely cool. Do not wait longer than 15 minutes before cutting the bars. They harden up significantly as they cool. Any longer and you’ll have a very hard time cutting thru them.

The bars can be stored, covered for up to 2 weeks.

Salmon with Lemon Couscous

The Original Recipe:
This left something to be desired. I don't know if it was just us, or what, but we didn't care for it much. I had this leftover butter/seasoning from the Italian Shrimp Bake I had made a few days prior. I had a good bit of it leftover, and I didn't want to throw it out, so I searched for a way to use it. I mean, this was good and we ate it, but the couscous needed a lot of extra flavoring added. It was so bland. I added lemon pepper seasoning, salt, dill, turmeric,  garlic powder, and onion powder to try and give it some more taste (aside from the fresh lemon that I did use). The fish was good. I love fish. All fish. I used the butter/lemons from that Shrimp Bake on top of it, then I doused it with the dill to bake. So, I am posting this because it might tickle someone else's fancy more than it did ours. If so, then I am glad I shared it with you! :)
Salmon with Lemon Couscous via
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
·         1 lemon
·         1 Tbsp. olive oil
·         1 onion, chopped
·         1 cup frozen baby peas
·         1-3/4 cups water
·         1-1/4 cups plain couscous
·         1 lb. salmon fillets
·         1 Tbsp. olive oil
·         1/2 tsp. salt
·         1/8 tsp. black pepper
·         1 tsp. dried dill weed
Preheat oven to broil. Squeeze lemon juice from lemons and grate 1 tsp. zest; set aside. In heavy skillet, saute onion in olive oil until tender. Stir in peas, lemon juice and water and bring to a boil. Stir in couscous, cover, remove pan from heat, and let stand for 5 minutes.
Brush salmon fillets with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and place, skin side down, on broiler pan. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and dill. Broil for 8-10 minutes per inch of thickness, 6" from heat source. (Or, if using frozen prepared salmon fillets, bake or broil as directed on package.)
Serve salmon on couscous; sprinkle with lemon zest. Serves 3-4 

Ranch Rice with Green Beans and Bacon

The Menu:
Ranch Rice with Green Beans and Bacon

The Original Recipe:
You cannot go wrong with Ranch and Bacon added to any dish. My kids went nuts over this delicious side dish!

Ranch Rice with Green Beans and Bacon

 Instant White Rice (you can use what you want and how much you want, here.)
1/2 package Ranch seasoning (dressing) mix
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (or on a lazy day, Real Bacon Bits work)
1 cup French Style green beans

In pot, add Ranch seasoning mix along with rice and water (according to package), cook rice according to package. Add bacon and green beans and fluff with fork. That's it! That's all there is to it. 

Shrimp and Orzo Skillet

The Menu:
Shrimp and Orzo Skillet

The Original Recipe:
I kind of just made this up on my own one day. It was delicious. Of course, I love shrimp and anything that is like Alfredo sauce with garlic. It was delicious.

Shrimp with Creamy Orzo and Feta Cheese
2 tbls. butter, divided
 8 oz. orzo
Chicken stock
2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (some feta is salty, so you can use Asiago or Parm. cheese instead)
2 tablespoons Chopped fresh Basil
1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled
1/4 cup dry white wine
8 oz. heavy cream

Heat one tablespoon butter in pot, add orzo, toast until lightly toasted. Add chicken stock and simmer until orzo is done (follow directions on pkg. of orzo). Add Basil; stir.

 Meanwhile, sauté garlic, onion, and butter in pan, add shrimp and cook until almost pink about 3 minutes, add cream and wine, heat through about 2 minutes. Add cooked orzo, and feta, stir to combine.

Plate, add feta on top to serve.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sopapilla Cheesecake

The Menu:
Sopapilla Cheesecake

The Original Recipe:
This is comfort food at it's best! Warning: You will have to make this to share with company or you will sit and eat it bite by bite all by yourself. I only used 1 1/2 8oz. pkg. of cream cheese and 3/4 cup of sugar. I think you could add less if you add a jam or some fruit. I also added a jar of my home made peach jam from last summer on top of the cream cheese mixture. YUM!

Sopapilla Cheesecake via

-2 cans pillsbury butter crescent rolls
-2 (8oz) packages cream cheese (softened)
-1 cup sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1/4 cup butter (melted)
-Cinnamon & sugar

Unroll and spread 1 can crescent rolls on bottom of un-greased pan. Combine softened cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Spread mixture over crescent rolls. Unroll and spread remaining crescent rolls over mixture. Spread melted butter over the top and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

**Edit 8.20.11: to save some calories (and in mulah! oh, the puns are endless...), I have found that I can actually cut the recipe down to 2 cans of crescent roll dough. Just spread the dough a bit thinner and you can still cover a 9x13 pan. I also use Neufchâtel in place of cream cheese (they're right next to each other on your grocer's shelf). It's 1/3 less fat (and a higher protein content) and you can't tell the difference one bit! There's no way you can pass this recipe as healthy, but this at least helps. :)

**Edit 2.2.12: I've been receiving a lot of questions about this recipe, so I thought I'd update with an FAQs section. Let me know if I don't answer your questions here!

  • Does this need to be refrigerated? Yes, I do refrigerate it unless I'm going to be serving it soon. I prefer to serve it at room temperature, but I would never leave it out overnight or anything. Cream cheese is still dairy and I wouldn't want to risk this going bad!
  • I'm not in the U.S.; can this be made using puff pastry? I haven't made this with puff pastry, but I'd say give it a whirl and report back! It's still dough, cream cheese and sugar, right? While the texture would be a bit different, I can't imagine it tasting bad. :)
  • What size pan? The amounts above call for a 9x13 pan. I have halved the recipe before and filled an 8x8.
  • Do you press the perforations together? If I'm using the regular crescent roll dough, I do. I've seen lots of suggestions to lay out a piece of cling wrap and roll the dough out there, making it easier to flip over onto the cream cheese. Or, you could skip this step and buy the sheets--they should be in the same place as the rest of the cans of dough.
  • How much cinnamon sugar on top? My mixture is 1 part cinnamon to 3 parts sugar. As for how much, however much I need to cover the top to my liking. It's really up to you!
  • Is this better served warm or cold? See above, but I like it at room temperature! You don't want the cream cheese mixture to be runny (and it will run if it's too warm), but you don't want it cold either. Well, I don't...but this is up to you! 

Monday, April 02, 2012

Italian Shrimp Bake

The Menu:
Italian Shrimp Bake

The Original Recipe:
I found this on Pinterest. We love shrimp, but I typically boil it with some Cajun seasonings and then we dip it in butter and/or cocktail sauce. So, this was a nice change for us. This shrimp was delicious. I only used 1/2 a packet of Italian seasoning, though. I think next time I will make my own for on top instead. This baked up fast and I saved the butter/lemon mixture at the end to use on some fish that I want to grill up soon.

 (There was no name for this on Pinterest)
Melt a stick of butter in the pan. Slice one lemon and layer it on top of the butter. Put down fresh shrimp, then sprinkle one pack of dried Italian seasoning. Put in the oven and bake at 350 for 15 min.

 The above recipe is how the recipe was written on Pinterest. There was no name, no amounts, and no link to the picture, so here is what I did.

Italian Shrimp Bake

2 packages, uncooked,  peel and eat shrimp (31-40 count)
1 stick butter
2 lemons, washed and sliced thin
1 packet Italian Dressing and Seasoning Mix

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Make sure shrimp is thawed out, if you bought them frozen.  Lay sliced lemons down in 13x9 casserole dish. Peel shrimp, if desierd. Place uncooked shrimp on top, spreading evenly. Pour butter over top of shrimp. Sprinkle Italian seasoning all over shrimp. Bake uncovered 15 minutes. You could even broil for a few minutes to sort of caramelize the Italian dressing on top. No more than 2 minutes.

Crunchy Onion Cheeseburger

The Menu:
Crunchy Onion Cheeseburger

The Original Recipe:
I found this in the internet. I have had it in my "to try" file for awhile now. It is a nice 60 degrees and sunny day, today. I decided to grill out. These burgers were great. I served them on plain buns with some barbecue sauce, which just hit the spot. I decided not to take a picture though since it looked like any other hamburger. I could see these served with tomato, lettuce and mayonaise, too. They were very good and juicey.

Crunchy Onion Cheeseburger


2 lbs. ground beef
2 cups (4 oz.) FRENCH'S Cheddar or Original French Fried Onions
3 tbsp. FRENCH'S Classic Worcestershire Sauce
3/4 tsp. garlic powder

8 slices American cheese

MIX beef, 1 cup French Fried Onions, Worcestershire and garlic powder. Shape into 6 burgers.

GRILL burgers about 10 min. until cooked through in center.

TOP each with 1 slice cheese. Cook 1 min. until cheese melts.

SERVE burgers on rolls with lettuce and tomatoes, if desired. Top each burger with remaining French Fried Onions.