Sunday, February 27, 2011

Black Raspberry Oatmeal Bars

I've been thinking fondly of my favorite bar from college.

It was crisp, sweet, and filled with gooey raspberry goodness.

Wait- what did you think I was talking about?

The coffee shop in my college library serves up the most delicious raspberry bar cookies.  They were always such a nice treat during those long nights of Facebook studying.  (Love you Mom!)  This recipe is a perfect replica of those beloved bars, and I've made them more than any other recipe in my stash.

Based on Allrecipes

1 pkg yellow cake mix
2 1/2 cups quick cooking oats, divided
1 stick of butter, melted
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 10 oz container seedless black raspberry preserves
1 tsp water
1 tsp lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 375 and grease a 9X13 pan.

2. In a large bowl, mix the cake mix, 2 cups of the oats, butter, applesauce, and vanilla. Add the remaining oats a little at a time until the mixture just starts to form big clumps. (Discard the rest.)

3. In a separate bowl, mix the preserves, water, and lemon juice. Press 1/2 the crust dough in the pan. Slather on the preserve mixture, keeping away from the very edges so the fruit doesn't burn. Sprinkle remaining crust mixture on top.

4. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the top crust is lightly browned.

Jam Hands
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Monday, February 21, 2011

Sweet and Savory Sugar Snap Peas

If you've never had sugar snap peas before, you are really missing out.  They're kind of like the snow pea's sweeter, crunchier big brother.  I created this Asian-inspired side dish to accompany tonight's pork chops.  They were delicious!  Mr. Ommy Noms is usually "eh" about veggies, but he was all over this dish.

An Ommy Noms Original

1/2 pound sugar snap peas, ends trimmed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp dark brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
Dash red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Add sugar snap peas and sauté until crisp-tender, approximately 5 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, combine soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and seasonings in a small bowl.  Swirl to mix.  

3.  Remove peas from heat, add soy sauce mixture, and toss to coat.
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Seared Pork Chops with Sage

These pork chops were quick and easy after a long (read: looooooong) day of work.  Pork isn't my favorite protein, but variety is the spice of life, right?

An Ommy Noms Original

1 tbsp olive oil
2 pork chops
Rubbed sage
Salt and pepper

1.  Pat pork chops dry and season with sage, salt, and pepper to taste.  Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat until shimmering.  Cook 4-5 minutes per side.
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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Green Bean Salad with Pecans

Mr. Ommy Noms is a HUGE fan of green beans.  If green beans are on the menu, you can bet he'll order them.  I went on a quest to find a new way to put green beans on his plate and came across an interesting Ellie Krieger recipe.  I had never seen green beans in a salad before and figured it was worth a shot.  I made several changes to suit our tastes and the end result was very good.  The mister thought it was outstanding.  Figures!  :-)

Based on Ellie Krieger

1/2 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 shallot, finely diced
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp vinegar (red wine or white)
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
Dash garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  Bring a pot of water with a steamer basket to a boil.  Add green beans and steam for about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl.  Add shallot and pecans.  Stir to combine.

2.  In a small bowl, combine oil, vinegar, honey, and mustard.  Pour over green bean mixture and toss to combine.  Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Serve warm or at room temperature.
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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Shrimp Fried Rice

Armed with a pot of leftover rice, I tried my hand at shrimp fried rice tonight.  The results were impressive!  It was loaded with veggies and didn't leave a greasy film in your mouth.  (Yuck!)  Mr. Ommy Noms even declared tonight's dish the best fried rice he's ever eaten.  (And he's eaten a LOT of takeout!)

Disclaimer:  The sesame oil adds really great flavor to the dish.  If you're not familiar with sesame oil, be advised that it is quite strong and a little goes a long way.  The 1/2 teaspoon was perfect for us, but you may want to use a little less if it's your first time cooking with sesame oil.

Fun fact:  My former roommate once cooked a stir-fry entirely in sesame oil.  We ate at Pizza Hut that night.

Heavily adapted from Allrecipes


1 lb shrimp
2 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
1/2 medium onion, very finely diced
1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups cold, cooked rice
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp sesame oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 green onions, finely sliced


1.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Add shrimp and cook for 2 minutes, or until shrimp are almost cooked through.  Remove from heat and drain.  Rinse shrimp with cold water to stop the cooking process.*  Peel and cut into small chunks. 

2.  Add 1 tbsp oil to a wok or skillet and heat over medium heat until oil is shimmering but not smoking.  Add onion and cook until tender, stirring frequently.  Add peas and carrots and stir-fry until heated through, about 2 minutes.  Add shrimp and stir-fry 1 minute.  Add eggs and stir-fry until cooked through.  Remove mixture to a plate and set aside.

3.  Wipe out wok or skillet with a paper towel.  Add remaining oil.  Heat oil until shimmering.  Add rice.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat to medium low.  Return shrimp mixture to the skillet, stirring to combine with the rice.  Add soy sauce, sesame oil, and minced garlic and stir to combine.

4.  Garnish each serving with sliced green onion.

*Instead of boiling the shrimp, you can choose to stir-fry it along with the onion.
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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Crunchy Honey Chicken

This dish was the bee's knees!  The sauce had a unique flavor- a nice balance of sweet and savory. I predict this will show up on the meal plan quite frequently.

As seen on How Sweet It Is

1lb. Boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders
2 Egg whites
1/3C. Cornstarch (or flour – for dredging)
1C. Broccoli florets
1/2 Red pepper, thinly sliced
3/4C. Sugar snap peas
1 clove garlic, minced
3T. Olive oil
1T. Soy sauce
1/4C. Honey
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare and slice all veggies – feel free to add whatever you would like. In 2 separate bowls, add the egg whites (lightly beaten) and the cornstarch.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add veggies with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and saute for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add in soy sauce and garlic and stir so veggies are coated, about 60 seconds. Remove from skillet and set aside in a bowl.

Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces and season with salt and pepper. Heat the same skillet (or you can use a different one, I just use the same to make it easier) over medium-high heat and add remaining olive oil. Dip chicken pieces in egg whites and then lightly dredge in cornstarch. Add to the skillet and let brown for 2-3 minutes, then flip. Continue with remaining chicken pieces, and do so in batches if needed.

Once chicken is cooked, add veggies back in the skillet. Add honey and thoroughly mix to combine. Taste and season with salt, pepper, additional honey or soy sauce. Serve with rice.
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Red Chili Chicken and Rice with Black Beans

I am a big fan of Mexican cuisine, thanks to a four-year stint living in San Antonio.  I could eat it literally every day of my life.  Enchiladas, tamales, tacos- I love it all!  Unfortunately, it would take a lot more than my three-day-a-week gym schedule to support a diet like that.  This dish was rich with Mexican flavor, but without all the fat.  My only alteration was to add a diced poblano pepper to this dish, which gave the flavor a little more depth.

I served it with Texas-Texas salsa, my favorite salsa of all time!

Adapted from Christine's Cuisine, originally from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 Tbsp. ancho chili powder, divided
1 poblano pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup long-grain rice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups chicken broth
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup green onions, chopped
salsa, for serving

1. Heat the oil in large heavy pot over medium-high heat.

2. Season the chicken breast with salt and sprinkle with half of the chili powder.  Place the chicken in the hot oil and brown, 2-3 minutes.  Remove to a plate, leaving behind as much oil as possible.

3. Add the poblano, onion and rice to the pot.  Stir for several minutes, until the rice turns from translucent to opaque.

4. Add the garlic and the remaining chili powder to the pot.  Cook for 1 minute, stirring, then add the chicken broth and salt to taste.  Stir well.

5. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer on medium-low heat.  Cover and cook for 10 minutes.

6. Add the chicken to the pot along with the beans.  Recover the pot and allow to cook 12 minutes longer.

7. Sprinkle the green onions on top of the chicken, beans and rice.  '

8. Test a grain of rice – if the rice has the correct texture, replace the cover, remove the pot from the heat and let stand 5-10 minutes.  If the rice is not completely cooked yet, cook for 5 minutes longer before covering to let stand.

9. Fluff the mixture with a fork and serve with salsa.
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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Bavarian Bretzel Rolls

It's a pretzel.
It's a sandwich bun.
It will blow your mind!

Several years ago, I toured Germany and Austria with my college choir.  One morning, my host family served lightly buttered bretzel rolls with ham for breakfast.  I was hooked!  These delicious bretzel rolls were easy to make and had me reminiscing about my trip in no time.  You can serve these with your favorite sandwich toppings or plain with a scrape of butter. Delish!


1 1/3 cups warm water
2 tablespoons warm milk
1 packet active dry yeast
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
4 cups flour
Sea salt
2 quarts cold water
1/2 cup baking soda

1. Combine 1/3 cup warm water with yeast and let stand until foamy. Add the remaining warm water, milk, sugar, and melted butter. Swirl to dissolve the sugar.

2. Add flour and mix on medium-low until dough forms a firm, pliable ball. Add more flour if necessary.

3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured table and knead for 2 minutes. Roll into a 2 foot long log and cut into 12 even pieces. Cover dough with plastic and a damp cloth and let sit for 10 minutes.

Pat dough into rolls or form knots and arrange on a lightly floured surface about an inch apart and cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Let the pretzels rest for an additional 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425°. Lightly oil 2 baking sheets.

In a large stockpot, bring the cold water to a rolling boil and add baking soda. Drop two rolls into the boiling water and boil for no more then 30 seconds, turning once. Carefully remove with tongs or slotted spoon and hold above pot and let drain. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Repeat with the remaining rolls.

Arrange rolls on the oiled baking sheets and bake on the upper and middle racks of the oven for about 8-10 minutes, or until browned all over; shift pans from top to bottom and back to front halfway through, for even baking.

Let rolls cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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Friday, February 4, 2011

All Dressed Up and sNOwhere to go!

Work was cancelled today because of the snow.  (The snow that never showed up, that is!)  I'm bummed that we haven't seen any of the white stuff, but it hasn't kept me from enjoying my unexpected three-day weekend!  I'll probably do some baking later on, but here are some pictures to enjoy until then!

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