Monday, February 27, 2012

Knorr Classic Spinach Dip with Greek Yogurt

The original version of this dip is one of my all-time favorite dips ever.  It is irresistible.  I usually only let myself eat it a few times a year, because let's face it, it's not very good for you.  Luckily I found this recipe.  I seriously think this version with Greek yogurt tastes JUST LIKE the regular version.  I promise you will not miss the sour cream.  It is so good.

I have been experimenting with plain, non-fat yogurt A LOT lately.  I have been using it in place of sour cream in things like enchiladas, banana bread, Lemon Poppy Seed Muffinsmy go-to cake mix recipeBanana Cream Pie CupcakesBanana Streusel Bundt CakeGooey (with less) butter cakeGrilled Pimento Sandwich and so on and so on.  So far, I have loved it in every single thing I have tried it in, but especially in cakes.  Just think of how many calories you can save.  Have you ever read the back of the sour cream container?  Well don't, because it might scare you.

I have tried both regular non-fat plain yogurt and Greek non-fat plain yogurt.  The regular kind is cheaper, but it seems to be a little more runnier and the Greek kind is a little thicker and seems less watery.  The regular kind has worked fine for me in cakes, but as far as this dip, I would make sure to get the Greek kind.  
Classic Spinach Dip with Greek Yogurt
adapted from: Knorr
(Printable Recipe)

1 pkg. (10 oz.) fresh spinach, washed
     dried and chopped
16 oz. non-fat plain Greek Yogurt
1 c. light Mayonnaise
1 pkg. Knorr Vegetable recipe mix
1 can (8 oz.) water chestnuts, drained
     and finely chopped, opt.
3 green onions, chopped, opt.

Combine all ingredients in medium bowl.  Chill for at least an hour.  Serve with your favorite dippers (vegetables, crackers or torn bread).  Makes 4 cups of dip.

Jenn's Notes: My favorite way to eat this is with torn pieces of French bread.  All Greek yogurt is not fat-free.  I accidentally bought one that was not, but it still had less than half the amount of fat as sour cream.  

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Coconut Red Curry Sauce and Noodles

Have you guys ever watched Worst Cooks in America?  I had never watched it before, but I had seen previews that Bobby Flay was now on it and I love Bobby Flay.  So, I watched it for the first time the other night.  I was seriously Laughing Out Loud!  I couldn't decide if the people really have no clue what they are doing or if they pretend a little for the show?  Bobby was a lot nicer than Anne and seemed to get a kick out of his team a lot more than Anne did with hers.  Maybe it is because she has been on the show for all the prior seasons, so it is a little old to her and she seemed to get a little more annoyed with her team.  Bobby even joked that he wants to quit all his other jobs and just do this one full time.  

This recipe is one of the dishes they made on the show.  Bobby showed his team how to make it and then they had to re-create it.  It looked delicious and I had been dying to try curry.  I ran to the store and got all of the stuff to make this the very next day.
I had no idea what to expect, but I really liked it and it was so easy.  The red curry paste smelled almost like marinara sauce to me?  It added a light spiciness to the dish.  The coconut milk just added a light coconut flavor.  Have you ever had Hawaiian Haystacks with coconut on it?  The coconut flavor reminded me of that.  All the flavors worked perfectly together and I would make this again.  I really want to add some kind of meat to this (not tofu) and I was wondering what meat would work?  Any ideas?
Coconut Red Curry Sauce and Noodles
1 Tbl. canola oil
1/2 c. mushrooms, chopped
1 (one-inch) piece fresh ginger, grated
1/4 medium onion, finely diced
2 Tbl. red curry paste  
1 (15 oz.) can unsweetened coconut milk, stirred
1 c. napa cabbage, chiffonade
2 medium carrots, julienned
1/2 Tbl. honey
3 scallions, chopped
juice of 1/2 a fresh lime
chopped fresh cilantro
salt and black pepper
1 Lb. noodles (I used fettucini), cooked

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook the mushrooms, ginger and onion until soft, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the red curry paste and cook 1 minute.  Whisk in the coconut milk and then add the cabbage, carrots and cook 5 minutes more (I went 10-15 minutes, so my carrots would be softer).  Remove from the heat and stir in the honey, scallions, lime juice and cilantro.  Season with salt and pepper.  Toss over the noodles.  Serves 4.  

Jenn's Notes: This was pretty different than anything I have made before, but I'm glad I tried it, because I liked it.  I made the recipe exactly as written above.  Next time, I want to try lite coconut milk and see if it tastes as good.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pioneer Woman's Berry Butter

This berry butter is delicious!  It is the perfect way to add a little extra love to your regular old pancakes or french toast.  It would even be great on a muffin, a slice of bread or a biscuit and so on and so on. 

You can use whatever berry you like.  If you hate the seeds, make sure to pick a berry without them.  I used blackberries and they have seeds, but it didn't bother me.  If you are going to top your pancakes with butter anyway, you might as well add some fresh flavor with some berries. 
adapted from: Pioneer Woman

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. any berries (blackberries, raspberries, etc. . .)

Whip 2 sticks of butter with whisk attachment.  Switch to the paddle and add berries.  Turn on low for 5 seconds, just long enough for the berries to begin to mix in and break up (I mixed mine a little longer and that is why my butter is pink)!  Turn the butter out onto a long sheet of plastic wrap set over a piece of foil.  Fold over the plastic wrap and form butter into a cylinder.  Continue rolling up, making sure to seal it very tightly.  wrap foil around and twist edges.  Freeze for at least 30 minutes, butter should be very firm.   Remove from freezer and slice.  Serve as desired.

Jenn's Notes: I find it works best to set a few slices of berry butter on top of your pancakes, after you flip them, while they are still on the griddle.  That way it gets warm and starts to melt.  If you top your pancakes after they have come off the griddle, the butter doesn't melt as well.  I love to serve mine with the berry butter and with maple syrup.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Great Harvest Honey Whole Wheat Bread Copycat

When I was in highschool, there were a few different foods that I lived on.

Bread was one of them.  There were two different bread companies around, one of those was Great Harvest.  You could go there and get a free sample of bread, which happened to be a GIANT slice of bread.  Every single bread was delicious.  One of my favorites was the raspberry swirl (which I still need to find a copycat version for - if anyone has one - let me know)!  A free slice of bread was the perfect lunch for a highschooler, because that meant more gas money for cruising around town.  Eventually, they started charging 25 cents for a slice.

I have been eating a lot of wheat bread lately.  I had been making my go-to bread machine wheat bread, but then I found this Great Harvest copycat  recipe a few months ago.  I am not going to lie to you - I like this new recipe better!  My other recipe is still delicious and I still make it a few times a month, but this new recipe is AMAZING!  There is no oil or butter and no dough enhancers, but for some reason it stays fresh twice as long as my other recipe.  It is so tasty, super hearty, very moist and it is 100% whole wheat.  It might just be the perfect wheat bread (in my opinion)!

Serve with Coconut Oil Honey "Butter"
Great Harvest Whole Wheat Bread Copycat

1 1/2 Tbl. instant yeast
2 c. warm water
1/3 c. honey
3 - 4 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 - 1/2 c. any add-ins (oats, sunflower seeds, 
       ground flax seeds, etc.)

Combine yeast, water and honey in the bowl of a stand mixer; let sit for 5 minutes or until frothy and bubbly.  Add 1 1/2 cups of flour, any add-ins and salt and mix until combined.  Add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until you get a soft dough.  The dough should barely pull away from the sides of the bowl and it will still be a little sticky.  Using the dough hook, knead for 4 minutes on low, cover and let rise until doubled.  Punch down dough (spray hands with cooking spray) and put in a greased loaf pan.  Let rise again until doubled.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove loaf and cool completely.   

*If you use freshly ground wheat flour, you might need to add more like 5- 5 1/2 cups of flour.

Jenn's Notes: This bread is delicious.  I think it tastes best when made in my mixer, but I have also tried it in the bread machine and it will work, but it will be a little more chewy.  I usually add 1/2 cup oats and sometimes I will add a few tablespoons of sunflower seeds.  This makes one large loaf.   

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Orange - Almond Biscotti

I was walking down the aisles at Costco a few weeks ago and I wasn't even paying attention to the samples, when one of the ladies said to me, "this goes really good with hot drinks"

I looked over at her and down at the label and it was biscotti.  I have ALWAYS wondered what biscotti tasted like and I finally had a chance to find out.  I grabbed a sample and ate it as I continued walking down the aisle.  I absolutely loved it!  

I couldn't stop thinking about how good it was the entire night.  That just so happened to be the same trip when I picked up a copy of this cookbook.  I was flipping through it and said  . . . please, please have a recipe for biscotti.  

It did! And it was so easy to make!

I have already made it twice in the past few weeks and I will probably make another batch this weekend.  I am seriously hooked.  I absolutely love this version and I can't wait to try out more versions.  I didn't even dip it in anything, I loved it plain, but I do think it would be delicious dipped in milk, coffee or hot chocolate. 

I have since searched for different biscotti recipes and I have found some with butter and some without butter.  What is better?  Well, according to Cook's, the addition of a small amount of butter produces a richer, more cookie-like texture.  They wanted a crunchy, but not tooth-cracking-biscuit full of flavor and they found that the type and quantity of fat dramatically affected the taste, texture and the shelf life of the biscotti.  They also found that biscotti recipes made with whole eggs and no additional yolks got even better with time and remained very crisp.  

What they found must be true, because this stuff is amazing.  It is crunchy, but still has a cookie-like texture.  

I am forever in debt to the Costco Lady who introduced me to biscotti! Ha Ha!
1.  Make the dough and form it into a rectangle 

2.  Bake until it just begins to crack on top, about 35 minutes

3.  Let cool for 10 minutes and then cut into slices

4.  Lay cut side up and bake another 15 minutes

Orange-Almond Biscotti
2 c. (10 oz.) all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
4 Tbl. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. (7 oz.) sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 c. whole almonds with skins,                             
    toasted, cooled and coarsely chopped
2 Tbl. grated orange zest
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt together in small bowl.  Using a stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter and sugar together at medium high speed until light and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and add eggs, one at a time, then add almonds, orange zest, vanilla and almond extract until combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.  Stir in flour mixture until just combined.  

2.  Halve dough and turn each portion onto prepared baking sheet.  Using floured hands (I just sprayed my hands with cooking spray), quickly stretch each portion of dough into rough, 13x2-inch loaf, placing them about 3 inches apart (I just made one large loaf).  Pat each loaf to smooth it.  Bake until loaves are golden and just beginning to crack on top, about 35 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. 

3.  Let loaves cool for 10 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.  Cut each loaf diagonally into 3/8-inch slices with serrated knife.  Lay slices cut side up about 1/2-inch apart on baking sheet and return them to the oven.  Bake until crisp and golden brown on both sides, about 15 minutes, turning over each cookie halfway through baking.  Immediately transfer biscotti from baking sheet to wire rack and let cool completely.  

*To toast almonds: Place in preheated 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes or until very lightly toasted, stirring occasionally.  They can burn very easily, so watch closely.  

Jenn's Notes: The first time I only made a half a batch and I was wishing I had made a whole batch.  So, trust me when I say - make the entire batch or even two batches!  Cook's says this will last, stored in an air-tight container for up to a month, but both of my batches were gone within a few days! Yum.  Orange and almond are a perfect combination and do not skip the fresh orange zest - it adds so much flavor!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mediterranean Turkey Panini

What do you love most about paninis? 

 I love when you bite into it and first get a warm crispy crust, followed by ooey, gooey, melted cheese and then you get the texture of the meat and finish with all of the amazing flavors blended together.  Truly one of my favorite things to eat. 

 I have made this version a few times and it is delicious!    
Mediterranean Turkey Panini
adapted from: Taste of Home Magazine
(Printable Recipe)

marinara sauce or spaghetti sauce
ciabatta rolls
crumbled Feta cheese
marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
tomato slices, opt.
sliced smoked deli turkey
sliced Cheddar cheese

Spread 1/4 cup marinara on the cut sides of one ciabatta roll.  Top bottom half with 2 Tablespoons of crumbled Feta cheese, 2-3 Tablespoons chopped marinated artichoke hearts, tomato slices, sliced deli turkey and Cheddar cheese.  Replace top.  Cook on a panini maker or indoor grill for 4-5 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Serve with warmed marinara.  Repeat.  

Jenn's Notes: Add as much of each ingredient as desired.  I spray the outside of the bread with butter spray and cook on the George Foreman. Delicious.  

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Old-Fashioned Blueberry Muffins

Even though I have a Favorite Blueberry Muffin, I still like to try new recipes.  

Ever since I discovered how easy it was to make homemade jam with blueberries instead of having to add chunks, I have been hooked.  I took that same idea and did that with these muffins.  I gotta say that these are right up there with my favorite muffins.  I loved the flavor, the texture and I loved that they tasted good and stayed moist for several days.  I am craving these muffins right now and I really wish I was eating one, so I figured typing this post would distract me, but now it is only making me crave them more!  I might just have to put down the computer and go make these?  Do I have all of the ingredients . . . . .?

. . . . Anyway, these are one of my new favorites.  I knew they would be, since they come from Cook's Illustrated.  They explain that whisking the sugar in with melted butter will create a more delicate texture than creaming the butter and sugar and they use frozen blueberries, so these muffins could be enjoyed all year long (and believe me they will be)!
Old-Fashioned Blueberry Muffins
2 c. (10 oz.) all-purpose flour
1 Tbl. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1 c. (7 oz.) sugar
4 Tbl. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/4 c. sour cream
6 oz. (1 1/2 cups) frozen blueberries, preferably wild

1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 12-cup muffin tin with vegetable oil spray.  Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl until combined.  Whisk egg in second medium bowl until well-combined and light-colored, about 20 seconds.  Add sugar and whisk vigorously until thick and homogeneous, about 30 seconds.  Add melted butter in 2 or 3 steps, whisking to combine after each addition.  Add sour cream in 2 steps, whisking until just combined.  Add blueberries to dry ingredients and gently toss to combine.  

Add dry ingredients to sour cream mixture and carefully fold with rubber spatula until batter comes together and berries are evenly distributed, 25-30 seconds (small spots of flour will remain and batter will be thick).  Do not overmix.  Divide batter evenly between muffin cups.  Sprinkle cinnamon/sugar mixture over the top of each muffin (optional).  Bake until muffins are golden brown and toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out with few crumbs attached, 25-30 minutes, rotating tin halfway through baking.  Invert muffins onto wire rack, stand muffins upright and let cool for 5 minutes.  Serve.  Yield: 12 muffins. 

Or, if you are like me and can't stand chunky berries, make blueberry jam and swirl it into the muffin batter instead of adding whole berries.

Blueberry Jam:
6 oz. (1 1/2 cups) frozen blueberries
1 1/2 tsp. sugar

Bring blueberries and sugar to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, mashing the berries with a spoon several times and stirring frequently, until the berries have broken down and the mixture is thickened and reduced, about 6 minutes.  Cool to room temperature.  

Jenn's Notes:  I swirled in blueberry jam instead of adding whole blueberries.  Be careful not to overmix while you are swirling in the jam.  I loved the addition of the cinnamon and sugar mixture on the top - it not only adds some great flavor, but it makes for a slightly crisp top. So good.   

Linked up at Weekend Potluck!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Banana Oatmeal Cookies with Vanilla Frosting

Do you always make banana bread with your over ripe bananas?  

You should switch things up a bit and make these cookies!

They were so good!

Both kids and adults will love these.

I found these cookies over at Chef-In-Training and she got this recipe from her Grandmother, so that tells you this is a tried-and-true recipe.  Grandma's recipes are always the BEST.  

I made some plain ones, some frosted ones and some with chocolate chips.  I absolutely loved both the plain ones and the ones with frosting, but I didn't care too much for the chocolate chip ones.  So, stick to the original recipe and I know these will become a new family favorite.

Banana Cookies
adapted from: Chef-In-Training 

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 c. shortening
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 egg
1 3/4 c. quick oats

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Sift together dry ingredients; cut in shortening.  After shortening is completely cut in, add bananas, egg and oats.  Stir together until combined.  Spoon drops onto a cookie sheet and bake 8-10 minutes.  

3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1-3 Tbl. milk
2 tsp. vanilla
4 c. powdered sugar
pinch of salt

Whip butter until fluffy.  Gradually add the powdered sugar.  Add enough milk to reach desired consistency.  Add the vanilla and salt and mix until combined.  Spread over cooled cookies. 

Jenn's Notes: If you don't want the frosting, I thought these were delicious plain.  I loved the flavor and the texture of these.  I think I got around 36 cookies from a full batch.  I baked mine for 11-12 minutes and they were perfect.  I have not tried this, but some people have said they used applesauce instead of the shortening and they turned out great.        

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Pioneer Woman's Pantry Pasta

The Pioneer Woman made this on her Food Network show a few weeks ago.  I made it the next day.  I really did pull every ingredient out of my pantry/fridge, except for the artichokes, but I really wanted to add those, so I didn't mind purchasing one ingredient.  The best thing about this dish is that you can change up any ingredient with what you have on hand and it will still turn out delicious. 

I added sausage to this pasta, because I had some in my freezer.  Have you ever looked at the ingredients on the back of the sausage (the big link kind)?  I looked at the back of a popular brand and it had about a paragraph full of ingredients that I couldn't even pronounce?  Then, I looked at the back of a brand that is made locally and it seriously had maybe five ingredients, all of which I could pronounce - so I went with that brand.
Pantry Pasta
adapted from: The Pioneer Woman

1/2 onion, diced
2 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, with juice
1/3 c. chicken broth
1/3 c. olives, chopped
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
8 oz. pasta, cooked
2-3 Tbl. pesto
1/2 c. Feta cheese
3 Tbl. pine nuts

Heat olive oil in a large skillet; add onion and saute a few minutes.  Add the diced tomatoes, chicken stock, olives, artichoke hearts and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.  Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and stir to combine with the sauce.  Mix in the pesto.  Toss in the Feta and top with the pine nuts.

Jenn's Notes:  I added 2 large sausage links and cooked the onion in the grease instead of adding olive oil.  I used some pesto that I had in my freezer that I made last Summer.  I also added some seasonings like Italian, Rosemary and Thyme.  This made more than two servings (more like 3 or 4).  I thought this was delicious and I will be making it again. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super Easy Microwave Caramels - The Real Deal!

These caramels are the real thing!  They are not too good to be true!  Homemade caramel is not just for the holidays anymore.  

They are made in the microwave!

They are done in 6 minutes!

No thermometer is needed!

They are rich and creamy and melt in your mouth!

I was so skeptical about this recipe and I thought there was no way possible that these would work, but THEY DID!  I was shocked at how easy they were to make and how delicious they tasted.  You no longer have to be scared about making homemade caramel thanks to this recipe. 

I can't wait to try homemade turtles, caramel pretzels, caramel brownies and so on and so on.  I will never buy store-bought caramels ever again.   
Super Easy Microwave Caramels
5 Tbl. butter
1/2 c. light corn syrup
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
4 oz. sweetened condensed milk (about 1/4 c. + 2 Tbl.)
*It has been suggested to me to use 1/2 cup of sweetened condensed milk, which is 2 Tablespoons more than I have used.  I am going to try that next time I make these, but until then, you will have to decide which measurement you use.*

**Note: I have learned that the wattage of your microwave will greatly effect the outcome of these caramels.  I used a 950 watt microwave and cooked for 6 minutes and ended up with amazing soft caramels.  If you have a higher wattage microwave, you will want to cook less or you will end up with hard caramels.  Or if you have a lower wattage microwave, you will want to cook a little longer. **

Put all ingredients in a large, microwave safe, bowl.  Microwave for 6 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes.  Spray an 8''x8'' dish with cooking spray and pour mixture in.  Let cool and cut.  Wrap in wax paper.  

Jenn's Notes: Seriously AMAZING!  Since cans of sweetened condensed milk only come in 14 oz., I measured 4 oz. using my kitchen scale and it ended up being about 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons.  I poured my caramel into an 8''x6'' dish and we ate one row out of it the first night, then when I woke up the next day, it was completely filled in again, like I didn't even eat any.  So, eventually it will spread (it takes quite awhile for this to happen).  If you individually wrap them and are planning on taking them somewhere, I would keep them in the fridge and bring to room temperature just before serving.  They will hold their shape for several hours, before they start to flatten.    

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Breadsticks and Cinnamon Sticks

It's not too late to add these to your menu tomorrow for the big Football Game!
I bet a lot of you are planning to make pizza, but you can't eat pizza without some regular breadsticks and dessert breadsticks to serve on the side.  These are easy and they make a lot, so it will feed a lot of people.  Plus you can use the same dough for both the regular and the dessert ones (and you can even use the dough for your pizza too)! 

While I was in Junior High and Highschool there was a pizza place around called Pizza Pipeline.  They had the BEST EVER cinnamon sticks.  Those are what started my cinnamon sticks obsession.  No other pizza place around even comes close.  I would go there and order a bag of cinnamon sticks and eat that for lunch or dinner (dinner of champions)!  They came with a container of vanilla frosting to dip them in.  I don't even know what their pizza tasted like, because I always ordered the regular breadsticks or the cinnamon sticks.  I was so sad when they closed down.

When I saw the picture of these breadsticks, they instantly reminded me of Pizza Pipeline's, because that is exactly what they looked like.  Long, fat and twisted!  These were delicious!  The recipe was only for regular breadsticks, but of course I had to adapt it to make cinnamon ones.  I can't eat pizza without cinnamon sticks! These are slightly more labor intensive than my Cinnastix Recipe, since you have to twist each one rather than just bake the whole thing.  If you made me choose, I would pick my other recipe, but they really are both amazing and you can't go wrong with either one. The regular ones were yummy too, but you know me and my sweet tooth, so of course I'm gonna talk about the sweet ones! 
Delicious Breadsticks and Cinnamon Sticks

3 c. warm water
2 Tbl. yeast
1/4 c. sugar
7 c. all-purpose flour (more or less)
2 tsp. salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and sugar; let set for a few minutes until frothy and bubbly.  If it doesn't get frothy, start over.  Combine the flour and salt and gradually mix into the yeast mixture.  Add enough flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and stays in a ball.  Allow to mix, using the dough hook, for about 5 minutes.  Divide the dough according to what you are making with it (breadsticks, cinnamon sticks or pizza - I divided it in half and used half for regular and half for cinnamon sticks).  Very lightly flour your work surface and roll out each dough ball into a large rectangle.  Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with desired toppings.  Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into long strips.  Take each strip and twist tightly or loosely (I did about 3 or 4 twists) - whichever you prefer into a long strip, the length of the sheet pan.  Place twisted dough pieces onto a lightly greased cookie sheet.  Let rise for 15 minutes or so before baking.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  Once out of the oven, brush with butter, if desired.  Full batch will yield around 20 large breadsticks.   
Dough recipe adapted from: Deals to Meals     

Garlic Topping:
garlic powder
italian seasoning
dried parsley flakes

Marinara, for dipping

Combine above seasonings, according to desired taste.  Sprinkle over dough that has been brushed with melted butter.  

Cinnamon/Sugar Topping:
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

Combine above ingredients and sprinkle over dough that has been brushed with melted butter.

Vanilla Frosting:
2 Tbl. butter, softened
1 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt

Using a hand mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese.  Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and salt.  Mix until smooth and combined.  You can either spread this over the slightly cooled cinnamon sticks or serve it on the side for dipping.

Jenn's Notes: I made a half a batch of the dough and used exactly 3 1/2 cups of flour.  I made half regular and half cinnamon and got 10 breadsticks total.  If you have major frosting lovers, like me, then you might want to make a little extra frosting.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Banana's Foster Oatmeal

Ever since I first tried Paula Deen's oatmeal recipe and learned of all the health benefits from eating oatmeal, I have been trying to eat it a few times a month.  When I found this recipe in my new Cook's Illustrated Cookbook, I knew it would be the perfect way to jazz up some regular oatmeal.  I will not eat oatmeal unless I have sliced bananas in it, so a banana's foster version was right up my alley.  Yeah, it has a little butter and brown sugar in it, but I usually top my oatmeal with brown sugar anyway.    

I thought it was very yummy and I absolutely loved the addition of the pecans.  I think this would be a huge hit with kids (minus the rum, of course).
adapted from: Paula Deen
3 1/2 c. water
1/8 tsp. salt
2 c. old fashioned oats (not instant or quick cooking)

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil and add salt.  Stir in the oats and simmer until thickened, about 6-8 minutes.  Spoon into bowls and top with desired toppings (brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, etc . . .).  Yield: 2 adult servings.  

Banana's Foster Topping:
adapted from: Cook's Illustrated
1 Tbl. butter
1 Tbl. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. dark rum (I added water and 1/2 tsp. rum extract)
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 c. pecans, toasted and chopped
pinch of allspice (I used cinnamon)

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat until melted; stir in brown sugar and cook until bubbling.  Off heat, stir in rum; return skillet to heat and simmer mixture until reduced and syrupy, about 1 minute.  Stir in mashed banana, pecans and allspice.  Serve over individual bowls of hot oatmeal.  

Jenn's Notes: I doubled the topping recipe, except I still only used 1 mashed banana. I love the flavor of rum extract, but you could always add vanilla instead.  This was a great way to serve oatmeal.    

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