Cookies or Bars?

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars

Being in the kitchen is always fun for me! I enjoy trying to be creative when it comes to whipping up new recipes, and seeing several different ingredients come together to make something complete!  Last night,  I had a hankering to make something scrumptious to bring into work; however, I encountered a dilemma.  To bake something classic as chocolate chip cookies, or maybe go the healthy route with an oat based bar….  We’ve all heard of the phrase, ‘have your cake and eat it too’ so why not apply that to this scenario?  Why not combine the two recipes to create an effortless and sweet treat?!

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup Whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups Old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips

Recipe:

  • Combine flour, oats, baking soda, and salt; set aside
  • Whisk eggs; add sugar, butter and vanilla
  • Slowly add dry ingredients to wet mixture; still until thoroughly combined.
  • Stir in chocolate chips
  • Spread evenly in a nonstick baking sheet (or in a coated baking sheet with cooking spray)
  • Bake for 16-18 minutes at 350 degrees, or until toothpick comes out clean!

Better with Butter

Brown Butter

Is the truth behind what Paula Dean says actually true?  Is everything honestly better with butter?  Thinking about what the benefits of butter, it seems to be such an ideal ingredient.  It creates a smooth taste in baked goods, enhances flavor making our savory dishes more creamy, and integrates other herbs and spices to help bind to the main ingredient.  Once heated, butter can even release a nutty flavor, that we all know as a brown butter sauce!

With recently moving to Germany,  I’ve been exploring  all the new flavors and different foods surrounding me.  As a result, creating new dishes in the kitchen has not been my first priority (reference date of last post!) and my lack of eagerness to stock the kitchen has contributed to my motivation.  However, I’ve discovered that on Sundays in Germany, there is an actual law that forbids most businesses to be open!  To ensure that I don’t go into Sunday starvation mode, I attempted to make a dish with bare minimal ingredients.  As a result, I present to you…

Brown Butter Tagliatelle

Ingredients:

-1 Cup Fresh tagliatelle pasta

-2 Tablespoons of butter

-1/8 Cup fresh prosciutto; chopped

-Salt and Pepper to taste

Recipe:

-Boil the fresh pasta until al dente.  With fresh pasta it should only take 2-3 minutes to cook.

-In a saucepan over med-high heat, add butter.  Stir butter once it starts to bubble, about 3 mins.

-To the saucepan add chipped prosciutto first, then cooked pasta.

-Stirring all ingredients together, and mix with salt and pepper to your liking!

French for Italian!

French Bread Loaf Raw

 

I’d like to know at least ONE person that doesn’t enjoy freshly baked warm bread with a crust that has an nice crunch, but still ever so pillow-y soft inside… Anyone?!  I challenge you to find me this person, because I don’t think he/she exists!  If you are reading my posts in order, you will notice that the last two posts prior to this one has a theme.  Well, I have to admit.. it was from the same dinner!  And this one isn’t any different!  I made this lovely french loaf to compliment my rustic Italian in-home dining experience.

The great thing is, although a bit of an arm workout (this is a pro, people! Not a con!)   there were minimal ingredients, and it turned out beautifully!  Complete your Italian dinner by making some homemade French bread tonight!

Above is the before baking picture.  Below fresh out of the oven before cutting!

French Bread Loaf

 

French Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups Flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Dry yeast
  •  1 1/2 cups Water, warm

Recipe:

  • Combine all ingredients until well mixed.  I used a KitchenAid mixer.
  • Once all combined, if too dry, add a bit of water so it can form a cohesive ball of dough.
  • Take out the dough and roll on floured-surface, ensuring the dough will not stick
  • Kneed, roll and form the dough of ball until it is no longer sticky, but instead has a smooth texture
  • Place in a large bowl that is lightly oiled, and loosely cover with a kitchen towel on top of the bowl
  • Place bowl of dough somewhere warm to rest for 1 hour
  • After the dough as rested, the dough should have doubled in size.
  • Roll out dough into a long log shape, and pinch the ends of the log folding under for rounded ends
  • Cut angled slits on the top of the log and place on a nonstick cookie sheet
  • Insert cookie sheet into the oven at 450 degrees
  • Prior to closing the oven door, pour 1/2 cup of water directly on the oven floor, creating steam. Shut the oven door!
  • Bake at 25 minutes

 

More than just Thanksgiving’s main attraction

Spaghetti

“Turkey…it’s what’s for dinner!”  Okay, okay! So the famous American slogan for a beef campaign did not say this exact line in commercials, but maybe the should start?? Ground turkey is an absolute great substitute for ground beef when trying to trying to keep it on the leaner side.  However, I feel like turkey is only focused on as the star of dinner during Thanksgiving.  Why not give this bird an opportunity to please our palettes on more than just 1 day a year?!  Sure, we might throw it on sandwiches all the time, but let’s add some real flavor to this and make turkey a Sunday night feast-worthy!

 Turkey Spaghetti Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Ground Turkey
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1/2 cup Panko
  • 2/3 cup Parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, shredded
  • 1/4 cup Minced, dry onions
  • 1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Cracked pepper

Recipe

  • Combine all ingredients, except the turkey, in a large mixing bowl
  • Add turkey, and mix well with hands
  • Once well combined, form meatballs into rounds.  For mine, I formed them into 2 inch rounds, since I was focusing on them being a main attraction
  • In a large pan, heat enough olive oil to coat the entire surface of the pan.
  • Once the oil is heated, add meatballs into the pan at medium-high heat and create a nice sear on all sides.  Cover with lid in between turning meatballs to sear
  • Once all the sides are seared, add spaghetti sauce and cover
  • Let sauce and meatballs simmer on medium-low for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the meatballs
  • Serve over delicious pasta, homemade pasta if you dare :)

Less fillers = More filling

Pasta

The other night when I was planning on making spaghetti, I noticed that I didn’t have any noodles.  “Ah, time to add this to the grocery list.”  But wait, why not make my own?  I make lasagna noodles from scratch, why not pasta noodles in other forms?  So I decided to live up to the challenge make some pasta!

I channeled my “inner-grandma” and envisioned an elderly women in sunny Tuscany, wearing an apron, and perhaps wearing a loose bandanna on her head.  In her tiny, but adorably rustic kitchen, she is rolling out pasta, preparing for family dinner… Where do I get my imagination?! I digress.. haha!

Anyways, as you can see from the picture below, it’s quite easy!  Two parts eggs to one part flour! Not only was it easy to make with ingredients I already had, but it was filling!  Surprisingly more filling than store-bought noodles!  To elaborate on this, I can normally eat a MOUNTAIN of pasta drenched in sauce (maybe you didn’t need to know that I can eat enough for a small family.. hehe…).  With this homemade pasta, I could barely finish 1 cup worth of cooked pasta! Given, this was hand cut, and not as thin as regular spaghetti, but my mountain metaphor applies to all pastas :)

Making Pasta

Homemade Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Flour
  • 4 Eggs

Recipe:

  • On a clean surface, round a pile of flour. 
  • Create a hole in the middle of the flour with walls tall enough to contain eggs
  • Crack the eggs into the hole
  • Begin whisking the eggs with a fork and slowly incorporating the flour starting with the walls.
  • Once this becomes formed dough, use your hands to kneed the dough and incorporate the remaining flour.
  • Dough should not be sticking to your hands; add sprinkles of flour if this happens
  • Dough should also not be too dry, where pieces looked “cracked.”  If this happens, wet your hands and work the dough to incorporate just a bit of moisture.
  • Roll out your dough to ideally as thin as possible; it may be easier to start separating the dough in pieces instead of trying to roll the whole dough ball out.
  • Slice up the dough into whatever shape pasta you’d like; I used a pizza cutter to slice into strips.
  • Cook pasta in boiling salted water for 4 minutes.  Toss in olive oil to keep separated.

Breakfast or Dessert?

Choco-Nut Mousse

 

Breakfast, lunch and dinner.. the 3 core meals of a day!  As I get the opportunity to experiment more, I notice that some dishes can be categorized in more than just one meal of the day.  We’ve all heard of the term breakfast for dinner.  And in fact, when I was a non-breakfast type of person, I would often opt for over-indulgent dinners as my first meal of the day.  But what about dessert, can a dish be more than just dessert?  Well, yes it can!  I recently whipped up this sweet treat to satisfy my sweet tooth (a rare occurrence).  I definitely think it could be eaten for breakfast, served on top of a bowl of oatmeal, or devoured by itself!

Choco-nut Mousse

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground flax seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons Sunflower seed butter (or any nut butters)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Honey
  • A few Dark chocolate chip,s to taste

Recipe:

  • Mix the first 5 ingredients together
  • Chill in the refrigerator for at least 15 mins
  • Serve with a few chocolate chips sprinkled on top

Time to Deconstruct

Breakfast with Organic Egg

I recently discovered that someone at my work raises chickens!  I was amazed to learn this, as I am definitely a city gal, thinking chickens are only found on farms.  But, I played 20 questions with this individual (obviously he could tell my curiosity was peaked), I learned that he often found himself in a predicament of an abundance of organic eggs.  The next day he brought me a dozen farm-fresh eggs, and I was eager to try these immediately!  Without trying to over complicate the egg, I put together a breakfast scramble with leftover scraps in my fridge, and served the sunny side up egg on top, ensuring the yoke was deliciously runny!

Deconstructed Scramble

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz cooked steak (or whatever leftover meat you have)
  • 1/4 cup of sauteed mushrooms (also a part of my leftover scraps)
  • 1/2 Red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/8 Red onion, chopped
  • 3 cups spinach
  • 1 Farm fresh egg

Recipe:

  • In a pan coated with cooking spray, cook onions and bell pepper over med-high heat for 3 mins.
  • Add spinach and cook until almost wilted
  • Lastly, add the cooked steak and mushrooms to just heat up
  • Place this mixture on a plate
  • Crack the fresh egg over the pan, and cook until whites are firm but yoke is still runny
  • Add the egg on top of the plated mixture and enjoy!